Over the course of 30 years from 1970 to 1999, 178 Navy vessels were sunk via SINKEX (disposal by sinking during military target practice exercises),70 amounting to 8% of all Navy ship disposals during this period. However, under the Bush Administration, from 2000-2008, SINKEX accounted for approximately 70% of all Navy ship disposals. Not only did this form of disposal result in valuable recyclable metals dumped at sea, the Navy also incurred great financial expense to remove some, though not all, hazardous, polluting substances prior to dumping.
The Navy does not publicly share the total cost estimates for sinking vessels via SINKEX.
environmental preparation. For example, the most expensive SINKEX on record was the sinking of the Ex-AMERICA in 2005 at a total
cost of $22 million,71
however the Navy only
reported a total cost of $4 million. The 61,174 ton vessel contained approximately $30 million in recoverable scrap metals, but again the Navy’s accounting methods failed to report any material value losses or opportunity cost should these materials have been recycled rather than dumped. The sinking of AMERICA essentially cost the U.S. taxpayers $52 million, not even accounting for the externalized costs to the environment.
The Navy’s environmental remediation cost estimates from 2005-2008 for vessels slated for SINKEX are listed in Table 4 below. This table provides a limited means of cost comparison between SINKEX and domestic recycling as 3 of the 12 vessels listed were in fact recycled rather than sunk. The FORT FISHER is one such
was sold in
domestic recycling operation in Brownsville,
RAND Report Pg. 17 Navy Plans to Sink America, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7081234/ 70 71
BASEL ACTION NETWORK
Sinking Navy Destroyers
The Spruance Class Destroyer fleet of 31 vessels were equipped to serve the U.S. Navy for a 35 – year service life, most of which would serve through 2019 with proper maintenance and updates, yet the Bush Administration opted to accelerate their retirement and dump 25 of the 31 destroyers at sea as a means of vessel disposal rather than recycling. Only two vessels survive, the PAUL FOSTER and the Ex-ARTHUR RADFORD, with the latter being the 26th Spruance Class Destroyer slated for ocean disposal in Summer 2011. The Ex-ARTHUR RADFORD dumping now falls under the Obama Administration, who appears to be carrying on the outdated ocean dumping policies of past years.
The 25 vessels dumped contained approximately 156,000 tons of recyclable metals, including steel, aluminum and copper amongst others. In today's market, this material would be worth an estimated $155 million and over 1,600 U.S. green recycling jobs, each job lasting approximately one year. The sinking of the Radford will contribute another $6 million of recyclable material to the depths of the sea, and forfeit nearly 228 jobs from the economy at large, in a time when U.S. jobs are scarce at best.
Ex-John Young, a Spruance Class Destroyer sunk in 2004 via SINKEX Image Source: http://ussthorndd988.com/Thornsistership.html
Texas, for a total of $0.02. Recycling this vessel brought significant savings to the Navy when compared to the $400,000 cost estimate for SINKEX.
ISL also purchased two other vessels in May at a total cost of $0.02 each, the Ex-SAIPAN and the Ex-AUSTIN. The Ex-SAIPAN alone will generate 250 green jobs throughout the dismantling process, which will likely last one