DOJ Feds Will Remove 52 Obsolete Ships from Suisun Bay

The federal government is in the process of removing the remaining 52 ships that currently sit in Suisun Bay as part of an agreement with environmental groups that was filed in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation (DOT) said recently.

DOT’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) has already begun removing obsolete ships from Suisun Bay for recycling, including four ships that have been removed since November 2009 and a fifth that was removed on March 31.

The agreement outlines MARAD’s commitment to remove 20 of the ships that are in the poorest condition prior to Sept. 30, 2012. Before their removal, these ships will be sent to a local dry-dock for cleaning that involves removing marine growth from the underwater hull and removing flaking paint from areas above the water. All other ships at the site will be cleaned of flaking paint within two years and removed from the fleet by Sept. 30, 2017.

Additionally, MARAD will clean the horizontal surfaces of the ships every 90 days to prevent peeling paint from dropping into the water, inspect the ships on a monthly and quarterly basis and collect water runoff samples for testing. No new ships with excess flaking will be admitted to the site.

“The Department of Justice is pleased to have negotiated a resolution of this matter that is good for the environment and a demonstration of effective state and federal cooperation,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “All the parties are to be commended for developing a comprehensive program for the management of the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.”

“We are following through on our commitment to clean and maintain these vessels in an environmentally sound manner, said David Matsuda, acting administrator of the Maritime Administration, the agency tasked with managing the fleet. “We are moving expeditiously to remove the worst-polluting ships first and diligently moving to clean the rest.”

The Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet Site serves as a reserve of ships for national defense and national emergency purposes. MARAD’s two other fleet storage sites are in James River, Va. and Beaumont, Texas.