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Calif. may lose shipyard, base

California suffered another blow in the latest round of base closing decisions Friday. The state would lose Long Beach Naval Shipyard and its 4,000 jobs under a recommendation to go to the president next week.

Also on the closing list is the Oakland Army Base, which employs 700 people.

"There's nothing but pain," base closure commission Chairman Alan Dixon said, noting that earlier decisions also had fallen heavily on California.

The commission also is recommending closing Fort McClellan, Ala., the Army's main chemical weapons training center. The training operations would be moved to Missouri.

Friday's votes came as the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission pushed to complete consideration of 177 bases slated for possible closure or realignment. The commission's list goes to the president on July 1.

President Clinton can approve the list or return it to the commission for changes. Congress then must vote up or down on the entire list. In each of the past three rounds, the commission's recommendations stood up to White House and congressional review.

The Long Beach decision came one day after the commission voted to close an air maintenance depot at McClellan Air Force Base, costing the Sacramento, Calif., area about 12,000 jobs. California's two senators, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, said they would urge Clinton to reject the list.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry declined to comment on specific closures but said, "The president is concerned about the decisions being reached by the commission."

When the commission's list is finished, Clinton will review it in light of Defense Secretary William Perry's suggestions, McCurry said.

The recommendation to close the Southern California yard passed by a 6-2 vote. Its closing is expected to save about $1-billion over 20 years.

Commissioners then voted unanimously to keep open its East Coast counterpart, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, one of the nation's oldest military facilities.

It is also the only one in the region capable of servicing nuclear-powered submarines.