From office equipment and furniture, to single-family homes, the U.S. Government periodically auctions property it no longer needs. In doing so, it makes money from aging Federal assets that can be used to better serve the American people. So what does the Government do with a 450-ft long, 10,000 ton, federally-owned, commercial ship that has reached the end of its operational life? How do you ensure that a vessel that is longer than a football field is disposed of in an environmentally responsible way that also benefits our nation?
The answer is, "You recycle it.” And since 2001, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has worked with domestic steel recyclers to turn more than 200 obsolete ships into steel that can be used again. Valuable metals can also be reclaimed, and oils onboard can be recycled.
Under the National Maritime Heritage Act, proceeds from the sale of ships for recycling are divided among three major program areas:
- Supporting the National Defense Reserve Fleet;
- Preserving maritime heritage assets and history; and
- Supporting merchant mariner training at America's seven maritime academies.
And recently, our nation’s six state maritime academies--Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Great Lakes, and California--and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) all benefited from obsolete ship sales contracts for the past two years of ship disposal activity, receiving a total distribution of $7 million.
The vessels were part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, a group of vessels maintained by the Government on the East, West, and Gulf coasts for national defense and domestic emergencies. When the vessels have outlived their usefulness, they are removed from the fleet. Since 2009, the Maritime Administration has sold 50 obsolete vessels for recycling from the fleet, providing more than $15.9 million in additional funding for our maritime academies.
These funds have supported facility and training ship maintenance, repair and modernization, and the purchase of simulators and training ship fuel, all of which helps our nation’s maritime academies produce well-educated and highly skilled officers who can serve America in the U.S. Merchant Marine, the U.S. Armed Forces, and the nation’s marine transportation system.
Our nation’s merchant mariners have played a key role in our country’s economy and security for over 200 years. DOT is committed to continuing this tradition by investing in the future of maritime transportation while also ensuring responsible disposal of government ships.