CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Members of Maine and New Hampshire’s congressional delegations, together with a group of community and business leaders, reiterated their support for keeping the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard open.

The delegations on Tuesday met with the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Community Support Group in Washington. The group, which is trying to show community support for the yard, also is scheduled to meet with key Pentagon officials.

The shipyard is considered vulnerable in the Pentagon’s next round of military base closings, part of a continuing drive to eliminate duplicative bases and turn work over to contractors. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld must recommend a list of bases for closure or downsizing to a special commission by mid-May, and the yard’s supporters are fighting to keep Portsmouth off it.

“The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has earned its right to continue its strategically vital mission through the skill and hard work of its employees, the efficiency and creativity of its managers and PNS’s unmatched record for overhauling submarines under budget and ahead of schedule,” members of both states’ congressional delegations said in a joint statement Tuesday.

The yard, located in Kittery, Maine, specializes in maintaining and overhauling nuclear submarines. It is also a major employer in eastern New Hampshire and southern Maine, with peak civilian employment last year of almost 5,000.



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