U.S. Navy Forced to Sink Its Ships
February 27, 2006
The U.S. Navy is having a hard time getting rid of old ships. So it is going to sink more of them.
For a long time, unneeded ships were "sent to the breakers" (a shipyard that broke the ship up for scrap and reusable parts). However, this is now considered environmentally harmful if done the old fashioned way (as it is still done in countries like India), and too expensive if it is done in an environmentally (and politically) acceptable way. So what's the navy to do with retired ships? It's no longer politically acceptable to allow foreign (and environmentally incorrect) countries do it. For the nonce, the U.S. Navy has been putting old ships "in reserve" (tying them up somewhere until someone can come up with a solution.)
Well, a solution appears to be a hand. Sink the old ships where they can serve as an underwater reef, a place where underwater creatures can set up housekeeping. This is, for the moment, considered environmentally acceptable. And so it comes to pass that the former USS Oriskany will be sunk this Summer, off the coast of Florida. The Oriskany was an aircraft carrier, built in 1950, and retired in 1975. It was in reserve until sent to the breakers in 1995. But two years later, the company that was supposed to break the ship up, backed out of the deal. Thus the ship remained tied up. The Oriskany had experience just waiting around. Construction on the ship began in October, 1945, but was suspended, although nearly complete, in 1947 because, with World War II over, the U.S. had more than enough aircraft carriers. But when the Korean war came along, work was resumed, and within six months, the Orisikany was off to war.
The 32,000 ton Oriskany will be sunk, some 40 kilometers off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, in 212 feet of water. All hatches and doors will be removed, and explosives will breach the hull to sink the "Mighty O." If there are no untoward complications, many more decommissioned U.S. warships will receive the same treatment.