More Ships to Leave Ghost Fleet

Friday, March 24, 2006
Two more ships are leaving the James River, headed for disposal facilities in Virginia and Maryland, in what has become a regular occurrence since the Bush Administration took over management of the nation’s ship disposal program five years ago, the U.S. Maritime Administration announced. The Howard W. Gilmore is scheduled to leave the James River Reserve Fleet at Fort Eustis on Thursday, making it the 50th ship to leave the river since January 1, 2001. It is one of the last World War II-vintage ships still at the fleet, which is good news for the ship disposal program, according to John Jamian, MARAD’s Acting Administrator.

In a news conference at the fleet site today, Jamian said, “Our disposal efforts can keep moving to newer ships, which bring better prices in the scrap steel market. That means better deals for the taxpayers—and means we can sell some of these ships rather than paying to have them recycled.” In fact, the next ship set to leave is a barge, the UEB, sold to North American Ship Recycling of Sparrows Point, MD, for more than $76,000. “Higher world prices for scrap steel, and the fact that the ships we have now are in better shape than the ones we’ve disposed of, means that we can look forward to more sales, and better bargains for the taxpayer,” Jamian added. Jamian called attention to his agency’s success in removing ships from the river, with the support of the President and Congress, and internal resolve. “Two years ago, the Maritime Administrator stood here and promised that MARAD would dispose of 10 high-priority ships in the next year,” said Jamian, referring to former Maritime Administrator William Schubert. “We did it,” Jamian added. MARAD maintains the James River Reserve Fleet at Fort Eustis as a reserve of ships for defense and national emergencies. When ships are no longer considered useful for defense or aid missions, MARAD arranges for their responsible disposal. The presence of deteriorated ships in the fleet has been a point of controversy in the past, and Jamian reminded reporters of promises MARAD had made and kept.

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