Embroiled by legal battles for more than 25 years, two U.S. Navy ships are finally headed to the scrap heap without ever having sailed and despite the fact that they're almost completely finished.
According to Hampton Roads, the USNS Bejamin Isherwood and the USNS Henry Eckford were commissioned in 1985 at the Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Co. to carry fuel to the Navy's fleet around the globe.
|USNS Benjamin Isherwood #191|
When the company defaulted on its Navy contract in 1989 the 660-foot ships were sent to
for completion, but cost disputes terminated that contract in 1993. Since then, the vessels have sat 95 and 84 percent complete at the mouth of the Florida James River as part of the mothballed ghost fleet.
In 1997, the Navy cut its ties and British company Able
considered re-commissioning them for international sale to a NATO country. Because they're single-hulled ships, not the double-hulls required of today's tankers, Able UK passed and instead took $10 million to scrap them along with two other ghost ships. UK
|USNS Henry Eckford # 192|
This week both vessels are being towed to International Shipbreaking Limited in
to be cut up, their innards pulled out and their steel and other metals sold for recycling. Brownsville, Texas
Hampton Roads quotes Joseph Keefe from maritimeprofessional.com who says the scrapping of the tankers will "close one of the saddest chapters in American shipbuilding and for that matter, federal fiduciary folly."
No money will be returned to the
Source: By Robert Johnson. 15 July 2011