Members of the Maine and N.H. Congressional Delegations join Secretary Harker (center) at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. courtesy PNS

Secretary of the Navy visits Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Members of Congressional Delegations join acting Secretary Thomas W. Harker

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker visited Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) April 6. Harker was joined by Maine and New Hampshire Congressional Delegations.

Alongside Shipyard Commander Captain Daniel Ettlich and Nuclear Engineer and Planning Manager Stephen Fahey, Harker toured the Structural Shop learning center, visited with USS Texas (SSN 775) leadership as the submarine undergoes modernization, and was provided an overview of multiple infrastructure and innovation projects currently underway at the shipyard.

“I’m thrilled to see the unified effort at the shipyard to deliver on time and on budget for the Navy,” said Harker, while meeting with members of the Texas project team to discuss the maintenance availability. “The commitment across the board to innovate and seek opportunities to improve our depot level maintenance is critical to the readiness of the fleet.”

During his visit, Harker observed progress of the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP), a 20-year, $21 billion undertaking for refurbishing the nation’s four public shipyards with modernized equipment, improved workflow and upgraded dry docks and facilities. A key project at the shipyard is the consolidated Paint, Blast, and Rubber facility. This $80 million project consolidates operations from nine aging facilities into one modern, centrally located building with optimized configuration and equipment to support increased productivity, quality, and safety. One of the most visible and impactful projects is the $158 million Dry Dock #1 Superflood Basin, which enables submarines to be docked 365 days per year without buoyancy assistance. The Superflood Basin provides opportunities to reduce maintenance duration and cost, increase scheduling flexibility, and reduces risk and improves safety by eliminating the strict dependencies on the Piscataqua River tidal fluctuations.

As the visit progressed, Ettlich elaborated on what the ongoing projects will mean to the shipyard. “SIOP is poised to bring PNS into a new era of productivity. We are all leaning-in with a bias for action and embracing these positive changes happening all across the shipyard,” said Ettlich. “By providing our people with improved facilities and infrastructure, we are poised for mission success.”

“I would like to thank Secretary Harker, as well as our Congressional Delegations, for their continued support of this shipyard and the Seacoast community,” said Ettlich. “The next chapter of Portsmouth’s history is unfolding before us, and I am proud of the infrastructure improvements and ongoing innovation to support our people in their unyielding efforts to provide first-time quality to our customer on schedule and deliver a more capable, lethal, and better-connected submarine fleet.”

The on-time completion of submarine availabilities is critical in the maintenance of today’s fleet and is essential to maintaining maritime superiority and expanding the undersea advantage. PNS, a field activity of NAVSEA, is America’s leader in attack submarine maintenance and modernization.