The S.S. Pacific Star, formerly the
City, is underway to the for a date with the
scrapper’s torch. While it carries no cargo, the 72-year-old ship is heavily
laden with history. Port of Brownsville
The last surviving American-built passenger/cargo ship, the Pacific Star departed under tow a little over a week ago from
San Francisco Bay,
en route for
ship recycler Esco Marine Inc., where it is expected within 30 days. Brownsville
Originally christened the USS Del Orleans and launched in February 1940 at Sparrow Point, Md., the ship ran between New Orleans and Buenos Aires until being requisitioned by the U.S. government in June 1941. It was delivered to the Navy, which refitted the Del Orleans as an "attack transport" and renamed it the
City — a nickname for . As a troop transport, the ship
took part in nearly every major campaign in the Western Pacific during World
War II, including the invasions of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Peleliu and New Orleans Leyte. In 1945 the Crescent
City was converted into a temporary
hospital ship, remaining at Okinawa until the
end of the war.
Before its decommissioning in
in 1948, the ship was awarded a
Navy Unit Commendation and 10 battle stars for its war service. The San Francisco Crescent City
was transferred to the U.S. Maritime Commission and placed in the National
Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay,
In 1971 the U.S. Maritime Administration (successor to the Maritime Commission) loaned the vessel to the
, which converted
it to a training vessel under a new name: T.S. Golden Bear. As a trainer, the
ship sailed on 28 major ocean cruises more than 24 years before being
decommissioned again — in 1995 — and returned to the reserve fleet. The city of
Academy Oakland, ,
bought the vessel in 1999 and renamed it "Artship" as part of an art
colony project that ultimately failed for lack of funding. The Pacific Star had
been laid up at Calif. since 2004. Mare
In 2007 the ship was purchased by International Data Security Inc., which planned to completely renovate it for conversion into a data center. The plan failed. IDS, which renamed the ship "Pacific Star," filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 6. Esco bought the vessel at a U.S. Marshal’s auction the following day for $1. This is actually the second time Esco has owned the Pacific Star. The first time was in 2004, though the dismantler opted to sell the ship then rather than tow it to
for recycling. Brownsville
Kris Wood, Esco’s vice president, said dismantling the 7,000-gross-ton ship should take about three months. First, asbestos and other hazardous substances have to be removed and dealt with according to environmental regulations, he said. Esco is a government contractor licensed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for such work.
"It’ll get turned into the structural steel that’s in your buildings and the cars that you drive and everything in between," Wood said.
With scrap prices relatively high, Esco and other contractors find themselves paying the government for vessels to salvage — albeit $1 in this case — rather than getting paid to tow them away. That could change when prices fall again. And while Esco is in the business of cutting up old vessels for money, people like Wood are able to appreciate the historical angle — such as the key role the Pacific Star played in the war effort so many decades ago.
"It has definitely had a very interesting life," he said. "It was born in the ‘40s and it has had a full life."
Herald. By Steve Clark. 23 January 2012 Brownsville