06 December 2011

Mare Island firm to clean up ships, but loses latest bids to recycle them:

These days, Mare Island has ships coming and going and, sometimes, staying.

As Allied Defense Recycling continues to bid unsuccessfully on contracts to recycle worn out Suisun Bay Reserve "mothball" Fleet ships, Vallejo officials are seeking ways to work around an unwelcome 70-year-old vessel.

This week the U.S. Maritime Administration, the reserve fleet's administrator, awarded four contracts to break up mothballed ships moored off Benicia's shores.

The most recent round of bids resulted in the sales of the ships to the highest bidders, who will in turn sell off the scrap metal for profit. With many of the earlier recycling contracts, the government paid companies to dismantle the vessels due to the extensive chemical cleanup required.

The Tulare and Pigeon were awarded to International Shipbreaking Ltd. for about $1.1 million and $383,000 respectively, the Pyro to Southern Recycling LLC for nearly $1.6 million and the Mispillion to Esco Marine for more than $1.8 million, according to federal contracts.

Mare Island shipyard Allied Defense Recycling's bids were not the highest, but the company did secure four contracts to clean the vessels before they're towed out of state. The recent awards mark the third major round of ship recycling bids that Allied Defense Recycling has not secured in the past 13 months.

"We're continuously increasing our bids, however, the competition is doing the same thing," said Jay Anast, company business operations/managing director. "We're close enough to continue to be hopeful."

Anast declined to reveal how close his company came to matching its competitors.

Allied Defense Recycling will be paid a total of a little more than $1.7 million to scrub the hulls of the four vessels of loose paint and marine growth before the ships depart for final dismantling elsewhere. The first ship will arrive for cleaning mid-December, with the last scheduled to leave in February, Anast said.

The company, in other news, also began using the relatively new Mare Island Railroad service to cart away ships' ballast material off-site, he said. The material is used to control the ship's floating levels.

"We hope to utilize it for other purposes in the future," Anast said.

Elsewhere on Mare Island's shoreline, the extended tenure of the SS Pacific Star -- the ex-Artship -- will mean the city must move to win a major state grant. The ship's owner is the subject of a lawsuit resulting in the recent auctioning off of the ship for $1 to ship recycler Esco Marine. The sale, however, was blocked by a U.S. district judge in Sacramento this week after the ship's owner, International Maritime Security Alliance, made an 11th-hour bankruptcy filing.

During the protracted legal battle, Vallejo is faced with a narrowing period to begin building a new ferry maintenance facility -- at the same location as the Pacific Star. A chunk of the project's funding -- more than $4 million -- comes from a state grant due to expire at the end of the year.

Vallejo Public Works Director David Kleinschmidt said that the city is seeking a six-month extension on the grant from the California Transportation Commission.

The ship's removal "definitely continues to complicate our ability" to build the facility, Kleinschmidt said.

In the meantime, the city has received contractor bids on the projects this week, which will be assessed and ultimately brought before the Vallejo City Council for approval, Kleinschmidt said.

Source: Time Herald. By Jessica A. York (jyork@timesheraldonline.com). 03 December 2011


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