U.S. Transportation Secretary visits Suisun Bay in Northern California to celebrate surpassing administration's goal for recycling.
Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary visited Shuisun Bay for the occasion. In 2010, the Department’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) committed to removing 28 ships from the fleet by September 30, 2012. To date, MARAD has removed 36 ships, with three more vessels scheduled for removal by the end of the year.
“Three years ago, the Department of Transportation promised to get rid of the ships that posed a threat to the environment, and I am proud to announce today that we are delivering on that promise,” said Secretary LaHood. “Removing these vessels restores the beauty of the bay and supports area jobs connected with the removal and recycling of the ships.”
At the beginning of the Obama Administration, the Department of Transportation committed to taking a fresh look at the ship disposal program and the impact it had on the environment in the Suisun Bay. The Maritime Administration worked with local officials and environmental groups to revive stalled negotiations.
In October 2009, MARAD developed a plan that allowed it to begin awarding contracts to prioritize removing the most hazardous ships from the bay and improve cleaning methods for the rest. Out of an original fleet of 57, 21 now remain, and they will all be removed by September 30, 2017. In recent years, thanks to a strong scrap steel market, MARAD has sold fifteen vessels for recycling.
As required by the National Maritime Heritage Act, 25 percent of the profit from those transactions is distributed to maritime academies around the country.
The Maritime Administration keeps ships at three National Defense Reserve Fleet sites: the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in California, the James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia and the Beaumont Reserve Fleet in Texas. All three anchorages are maintained by MARAD for national defense and national emergency purposes.