One Person’s Opinion on Base Closure for The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (Part 1)


Friday 13, 2005 is a day that will live in infamy for the Maine/NH seacoast area. As word was announced that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was on the BRAC list of bases to be closed, many were “shocked, in disbelief as disappointment, anger and grim determination were among the emotions Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employees expressed during the yard’s Friday afternoon shift change“.

Jonathan Iverson told employees their Navy yard was one of the 33 bases included on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list.

Should Rumsfeld’s list remain unchanged, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard could close in two to six years.

When I heard the news of the shipyard’s closure being on the list I certainly could not say I was surprised. However, many that I had spoke to prior to the closure announcement seemed to be either in denial or in another world if they thought that only efficiency played a part in such decisions. Having friends and knowing others I was sad for them that they would be out of a job but then I thought to myself. I do not remember any protests or media crusades to save mine and thousands of others jobs when WANG and then IBM were downsized in the 80′s & 90′s. Where was the outrage locally in the seacoast community when Tyco employee either lost their jobs or were given in option to transfer to New Jersey?

Unfortunately this is a part of employment life in the 21st century. Those of us in the private sector have had to deal with it and either forced to find another job in our field, retrain ourselves to other positions or follow the employment to other regions of the country. This also is the task in front of those at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

About 20 dignitaries from two states gathered at Kittery Town Hall on Friday morning for a formal press conference reacting to the news that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list.

Standing before a backdrop of yellow and black “Save Our Shipyard” signs, speaker after speaker took to the podium and demanded to know how this could have happened and what they are going to do about it.

Many of us have already faced this reality. The idea that one can live in the same area and maintain the same job at the same location is insane. That is the only problem I seem to have with the reaction of those that work at the shipyard. Yes, I think its a tough blow that was given to them, but all of us have faces it in the past and did not have the backing of the MSM to do our bidding to save our jobs. I do wish them the best in accomplishing the task of saving their jobs and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, but every one of those 4000 employees must realize it is primarily their responsibility to do so and no one else’s.

More to come …

Posted May 14, 2005 by
Economy, Media, Politics | 4 comments

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  • Comments

    4 Responses to “One Person’s Opinion on Base Closure for The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (Part 1)”

    1. MajorDad1984 on May 14th, 2005 10:10 pm

      My learned primate friends…scared be ye not.

      As far as the BRAC results go, just keep in mind that this is simply the SecDef’s list of proposed bases to be closed or re-aligned. There’s still hope for some on the list.

      As far as the notion that people somehow have a right to have a continued government presence in their communities to truly misguided…and more than a little selfish.

      I’m a government civilian supporting the Army at Fort Hood in Texas. We’re recognized as one of the largest military communities in the world, yet we somehow fell for the stories that we’d be getting 5000-10000 more troops here as a result of the BRAC and the return of forces from Europe.

      I’m currently looking at leaving government service after nearly 25 years…while my job is safe, I would have gladly been downsized out of this slot and moved on without a whimper to the next chapter of my life.

      People need to wake up and smell the coffee. This isn’t 1950 anymore. You don’t work for the same folks for 30-40 years and get a gold watch and a pension at the end…necessarily.

      See you on the high ground!


    2. Jeanette on May 15th, 2005 12:31 pm

      As a native Mainer I know the jobs in that area are not in abundance. Having said that, though, the people of Portsmouth and Kittery need to get out of the mindset of being a one company town. Bangor survived quite nicely once Dow AFB closed, and I’m sure this area will too. I’ll bet the people even get a chance to follow their jobs. Too bad I wasn’t given that opportunity several years ago, but lucky for me I was eligible for retirement and not a minute too soon from the company that employed me.

    3. Tom on May 15th, 2005 9:14 pm


      Life is tough. I have a 5 and 8 year old. When they say, “That’s not fair” I always reply life is not fair. If it were no one in America would be living at the standard we do now.

      So thank God life is not fair, and do all you can to do the most for yourself and others that you can.

      When the politicians start telling you they will make things fair, run away, fast.

    4. Dean Desmarais on August 11th, 2005 12:50 pm

      I just discovered these comments and although they were posted awhile ago, I feel I need to comment.

      As a Portsmouth Naval Shipyard civilian employee with 29+ years of gov’t. service I’m disappointed in the decision to put us on this list. It isn’t because I expected Uncle to keep me employed my whole life, I worked before I came here and I expect to work when I leave, that is the New England work ethic. (there are some exceptions – of coarse). My concern is as a taxpayer, that an efficient cost cutting, money saving shipyard on the leading edge of technology that returns ships to the fleet 3 times faster than the other facilities combined could even be considered for closure. The reason for these closures is to reduce cost and save money, that is exactly what we are doing. Theres a good reason why this shipyard has been here over 200 years. We’ve delivered more than required of us, always given more than 100% and hopefully we’ll be able to continue this tradition for 200 more years. The money we save is turned over to the other yards to help them recover from thier inefficeinces. How much extra will it cost the taxpayers if we aren’t here to bail them out. The naval fleet will be reduced by the increased backlog of work that the other yards can’t complete on schedule. Our national defenses will suffer and so the Nation will suffer. If anyone thinks that this is “non-political”, best get your head out of the sand.


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