One of the U.S. largest public shipyards is planning to expand its workforce by 715 in an effort to keep up with worker attrition and looming ship repair workload, according to a Thursday announcement from the shipyard.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine is plussing up its technical workforce — positions including engineers, pipefitters, ship wrights and welders — following hiring freezes brought on by 2013 Washington budget battles and the subsequent shutdown.
“The shipyard’s hiring plan is based on attrition and increased workload challenges,” said yard commander Capt. William Greene in a statement.
“Taking into account planned attrition, we will grow our workforce from approximately 4,700 to 5,200 civilian employees. The success of this plan is critical to our ability to execute our workload over the next few years and is a top priority for the shipyard.”
The shutdown prevented all of the Navy’s four public yards from hiring workers for nine months, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) head Vice Adm. William Hilarides told USNI News last month.
“In  the sequester and the shutdown resulted in me not being able to hire in my public shipyards for almost nine months. I lose about 1,000 people a year across the four yards due to attrition, and so during those nine months, we went down a thousand but we were in an increasing requirement,” he said at the time.
Hilarides anticipated NAVSEA would spend 2015 correcting the manning levels at the four yards and catch up to the maintenance backlog by 2018.
“I hope to do it sooner. I certainly get plenty of input from the Fleet commanders to do it faster than that, but until we’re manned to the job I’m going to keep having trouble with the schedules to meet,” Hilarides said at the time.