Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, on Seavey Island in Kittery, continues to have a major economic impact on the region and in local communities, where employees who work there live. The shipyard’s dry dock system is currently undergoing a modernization. Tammy Wells photo

KITTERY – Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, a fixture on Seavey Island in Kittery since 1800, had a big economic impact on the region in 2021, an impact measured at $1.3 billion.

That is up considerably from the $947 million impact in 2020, though the number of employees has slipped from 7.639 to 7,257 in 2021, according to Seacoast Shipyard Association, which released its annual economic figures on Sept. 8.

The shipyard association was formed several years ago by individuals, businesses and communities dedicated to making sure the shipyard continued its existence. The purpose, members say, has always been to protect PNS from closure, and the organization focuses on support for the shipyard, lobbies on its behalf, and has expanded its role to address issues impacting the shipyard’s visibility, workload, employee welfare and more.

Most of the workers – more than 4,400 – hail from Maine, and most of them live in York County. In all, the payroll for Maine workers was $380 million in 2021, up from 2020, when 4,600 workers were paid $364 million.

While Sanford and Kittery hold first and second place on the 2021 list of communities where workers live, with 499 and 438 shipyard employees respectively, 186 Biddeford residents work at the Navy yard, and brought home $15.6 million in wages; 127 Saco residents earned a $10.7 million payroll, and Old Orchard Beach had 23 shipyard employees who were paid $1.9 million in 2021.

There were 108 Kennebunk shipyard employees who were paid $9.8 million in 2021; 65 Arundel residents were paid $5.8 million for their work at the shipyard, and eight who live in Kennebunkport were paid $623,000.


The total civilian payroll was $670 million and total military payroll was $48.7 million. The yard bought $133 million in goods and services in 2021, and its contracted public works entity was paid $469 million.

PNS, which maintains and overhauls Los Angeles and Virginia class submarines, was threatened by possible closure in the mid-2000s when it was placed on the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission list, but was removed, following a review. The realignment and closure commission voted to preserve Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and its chairman Anthony Principi, called the facility “the gold standard.”

In May, the Los Angeles class submarine USS Cheyenne was the first to enter an overhauled Dry Dock 1, the initial part of a seven-year, $1.7 billion modernization, according to Naval News.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is continuing to hire and is currently accepting resumes for its trade apprentice program. An interview event is taking place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16 at York County Community College in Wells. Those who bring a resume can be interviewed on the spot, according to the shipyard, which is offering sign-on bonuses of up to $5,000 for many positions. For more information on the interview event, apprentice program and other employment opportunities, visit https://www.facebook.com/PortsmouthNavalShipyard.

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