$150M In Funds For Upgrades At Kittery Shipyard At Risk Of Being Diverted To Border Wall

Mar 19, 2019

This October 2015 handout photo provided by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, shows the shipyard base in Kittery, Maine.
Credit Portsmouth Naval Shipyard / via Associated Press

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery could lose more than $150 million in federal funds if President Trump's emergency declaration to fund a southern border wall is allowed to stand.

The money has been allocated for various modernization projects at the shipyard. Richard Smith is president of Portsmouth Federal Employees Metal Trades Council, one of the unions that represent many of the shipyard's workers. He says the loss of funding wouldn't cost jobs, but it would have a cost for the local economy:
 

"A lot of contractors will be coming in here to work on things, they're going to need a place to stop and get their coffee in the morning, gasoline," Smith says. "So by taking that away, it takes away a small chunk of what happens on the outside of these gates."

 

The Department of Defense Monday released a list of military construction projects that have been funded, but lack signed contracts with the Pentagon. Those projects are vulnerable to having their funding diverted toward the southern border wall.

 

"We're in jeopardy of losing our milcons [military contracts] that we've put in for," Smith says. "We're just waiting for signatures on them, of course, but since the wall has become more of importance to the president than our milcons here, that's what puts us in jeopardy of losing the money."

 

Smith says the situation is frustrating for a lot of people at the shipyard. "Working here 20 plus years," he says, "I hate to see us stop on the mission we're on, to make this the best facility that we possibly can for the future generations to work here."