Next May, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission will release its list of affected bases. Like the U.S. Navy as a whole and its ships and people, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard—the Navy's oldest publicly owned shipyard—has adapted and transformed to remain competitive in the world. Both as an engineer officer on the USS Hammerhead (SSN-663), where I spent 11 months at the shipyard in the early 1970s, and as a former commander of the Atlantic Submarine Force in the mid-1990s, I am well aware of Portsmouth's extraordinary record.
In response to the U.S. government's need to build specialized warships shortly after the creation of the Navy, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was built in 1800. At the outbreak of the second war with the British, in 1812, Congress tasked Portsmouth to begin construction of a 74-gun ship-of-the-line, the USS Washington. Although completed after hostilities ended, this and subsequent ships-of-the-line demonstrated that the United States was committed to the defense of the nation's maritime trade.