The federal government will resume disposing of ships from the James River Reserve Fleet, Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton announced
. The announcement follows a February 2007 decision by the agency to suspend ship disposal until regulatory discrepancies among federal and various state agencies had been resolved.
“Fast and favorable action by the Commonwealth of Virginia allows us to move forward with disposing of these vessels in an environmentally sensitive manner,” said Connaughton.
Connaughton also announced that his agency expects to make contract announcements for three ships soon, and to have the first ship move out from the James River within a month. He added that while the Maritime Administration
has reached an agreement with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the agency is still working to reach similar agreements for the fleets in Beaumont, Texas, and Suisun Bay, California.
Representative JoAnn Davis, who represents the Newport News area where the James River fleet is anchored, said, "It is vital that we continue to remove these ships from Virginia waters
, and I am pleased that MARAD has lifted the moratorium in Virginia. I look forward to continuing to work with Administrator Connaughton on this important environmental effort."
The regulatory discrepancies dealt with a process known as scamping, which is used to clean the hulls of ships, and which lessens the chance that invasive species may be taken to another ecosystem. Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality clarified its position in a letter to the Maritime Administration, saying that ships currently in the James River may be scamped in Virginia waters.