Saluting Portsmouth shipyard

Friday, February 24, 2012


US Representative

Imagine working in a space so small, there’s barely enough room to turn around. Imagine moving through passageways barely wide enough to accommodate you, with pipes and electrical wires protruding above your head. Now imagine living in those same cramped, crowded conditions for weeks on end, far below the ocean’s surface.

No, it’s not a scene from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” That is what life is like every day for the 134 officers and men who serve aboard the USS San Juan (SSN-751). I had the honor of touring this remarkable submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard a few weeks ago. You can’t fully appreciate the dedication and commitment of a submarine’s crew until you have seen for yourself the extremely tight conditions in which they work, eat and sleep for weeks at a time. It’s truly inspiring to see their dedication to serving their country in conditions that most of us would charitably describe as “difficult.”

The San Juan is currently wrapping up an important round of maintenance work and system upgrades at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Seeing that work in progress was yet another reminder of the important tasks performed there every day.

Whether you live on the Seacoast or far inland, it’s good to keep in mind just how important Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is to New Hampshire’s economy. For example, The Seacoast Shipyard Association reports Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employs more than 5,100 New Hampshire civilian workers.

Let me repeat something I recently told a news reporter: I always have been, and always will be, firmly committed to keeping the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard open. If anyone in Washington even suggests the possibility of closing it, they had better be prepared to deal with me, for I’m ready to fight with all my strength to keep it operating.

The professionalism I saw everywhere during my visit to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard reflected the pride and dedication displayed every day by thousands of men and women in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. I told you a few weeks ago about my recent visit to American troops serving in Afghanistan. As I talked with soldiers who are serving at Camp Eggers in Kabul and Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, you could easily see how focused they are on accomplishing their mission.

That same “can do” spirit is evident everywhere the American uniform is worn, both at home and abroad.Whether it is an Army patrol on a dusty road in Afghanistan, a Coast Guard patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, a Navy patrol off the Philippines or a hundred other places in between, you can find our service men and women carrying out the tasks that are assigned to them, and doing it well. And because they do, you and I are able to go about our daily lives in peace and security.

I am dedicated to making sure our military has the tools it needs to do to its job, and to remain the world’s premier force for freedom.

As I toured the San Juan, I was especially impressed by her state of readiness. The crew is prepared and ready to respond to any situation that arises at a moment’s notice. We need to marshal that same spirit of determination and focus as we make sure the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard continues to play a leading role in our nation’s defense, and that it remains vehicle for economic prosperity, too, for many generations to come.

I look forward to reporting back to you in two weeks on the latest developments in Washington. In the meantime, if I can be of service to you, or if you want to share your thoughts, suggestions or concerns with me, please contact me. Until next time, please know that I am always on your side and am actively fighting for New Hampshire’s interests in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta represents New Hampshire District 1 in Washington D.C. His column, “Frankly Speaking” can be read in the Merrimack Journal and Bedford Journal twice a month. He can be contacted in Washington at 1223 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515 or by phone at 1-202-225-5456. His New Hampshire office is at 33 Lowell St., Manchester, NH 03101 or 641-9536. Guinta can also be reached via email by visiting https://guinta.house.gov/contact-me. You can also follow what he’s doing 24/7 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rep frankguinta and on Twitter at @RepFrankGuinta.

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