The US Navy has closed the sale of two aircraft carriers, USS Kitty Hawk and USS John F. Kennedy to a Texas-based shipbreaking company for one cent each, USA Today reported.
Made from high quality metal, ships are a great resource for recycling. From tugs to military grade ships, ships are broken down into their individual parts after decommissioning. However, breaking them down is not that easy due to their size and older ships contain dangerous compounds like mercury, asbestos and sometimes radioactive material. Globally, shipbreaking and recycling is a massive and specialized industry.
The breakage of a decommissioned vessel requires it to be transported from the decommissioning port to a dismantling facility, which is a time consuming and resource intensive process. Since the shipowner is also responsible for any recycling, companies and the U.S. Navy typically pay shipbreaking companies a lot of money to do the job.
In the case of these veteran warships, the shipbreaking company should make a decent profit from the scrap metal. steel, iron and non-ferrous metals on the ship, USA Today reported, and therefore the US Navy paid nothing except for a small fee of a cent. The contract was awarded to International Shipbreaking Limited (ISL), based in Brownsville, Texas.
According to its website, the company has the capacity to break up and recycle 30,000 tons of ships each year and, in the past, has served the Royal Australian Navy outside of commercial shipowners and the US Navy. ISL has already broken down carriers such as USS Constellation, USS Independence and USS Ranger for the US Navy, a local news site reported.
According to Business Insider, these two ships were commissioned in the 1960s. While the USS Kitty Hawk served in the Vietnam War, the USS John F. Kennedy was in action during the 1991 Gulf War. While the former was decommissioned in 2017, the latter was decommissioned in 2009 but has remained in the shipyards ever since.
The company will now begin the process to arrange for the towing of these aircraft carriers, which could reach Brownsville within the next 10 to 18 weeks. The company could also hold an arrival ceremony and invite veterans who served on the ship for a final look at the ship. However, a visit to the bridge is not allowed according to the signed contract, the local media company reported.