Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Seavey’s Island. Image courtesy of Naval Sea Systems Command

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard pumped over a billion dollars into the regional economy last year, and businesses in southern Maine benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars in the salaries of residents who work at the yard.

A report by the Seacoast Shipyard Association estimated the economic impact of the Kittery shipyard at $1.3 billion, which represents a 37% increase from $948 million the year before. Most of the increase, the group said, can be traced to greater spending on contracts, which rose from $87.3 million in 2020 to $469.4 million last year, reflecting construction of a $1.7 billion dry dock that got underway.

The project will take seven years to complete and will double the size of the shipyard’s existing dry dock, which is used primarily to repair, maintain and modernize Navy submarines.

The Shipyard Association is a group that seeks to foster community support for the continued operation of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and boost its economic impact on southern Maine and New Hampshire. The yard was on a list of military bases and facilities targeting for closing in 2005, but the commission that handled closing decisions ultimately spared it.

The chairman of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission called Portsmouth the country’s “premier public shipyard” and said it was the “gold standard” by which to judge others.

This year’s economic impact report found that employment at the shipyard dipped from 7,639 in 2020 to 7,251 last year. Total payroll also slipped slightly, from $671.9 million in 2020 to $670.7 million in 2021.


The military payroll – $31.9 million for the Navy and $16.9 million for the Coast Guard – fell slightly, but supply purchases were up.

The report found that the majority of shipyard civilian employees – 4,410, with a payroll of $380.7 million – live in Maine. Nearly 3,000 shipyard employees, with a combined pay of $248 million, live in New Hampshire, and 216, with a payroll of $18.6 million, live in Massachusetts.

The report said 328 employees, earning $23.4 million annually, live in states other than Maine, New Hampshire or Massachusetts.

The community with the largest number of civilian shipyard employees, the report said, was Sanford/Springvale, with 499 workers earning a combined $41.5 million.

Rochester, New Hampshire, was second with 478 workers earning $38.2 million, followed by Kittery/Kittery Point, with 438 workers and a payroll of $37.8 million.

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