Navy to scrap aircraft carrier

Navy to scrap aircraft carrier

Texas-based Esco Marine wins dismantling and recycling contract.


The U.S. Navy (USN) has awarded a contract to Esco Marine, based in Brownsville, Texas, to tow, dismantle and recycle the decommissioned aircraft carrier the Saratoga. The contract was signed May 8, 2014. Under the contract, Esco has agreed to pay 1 cent for the aircraft carrier. The price reflects the net price proposed by Esco Marine, which considered the estimated proceeds from the sale of the scrap metal to be generated from dismantling.

The USN says it is not a sales contract but rather a procurement contract and the cost represents the lowest price the Navy could possibly have paid the contractor for the towing and dismantling of the Saratoga. The Navy continues to own the ship during the dismantling process. The contractor takes ownership of the scrap metal as it is produced and sells the scrap to offset its costs of operations.

The sale of the Saratoga is the second of three contracts for conventional aircraft carrier dismantling. All Star Metals of Brownsville was awarded the first contract Oct. 22, 2013, which included the towing and dismantling of former USS Forrestal.

A third contract award is pending to International Shipbreaking Ltd. of Brownsville to include the towing and dismantling of former USS Constellation once that company receives its facility security clearance.

After the initial award of one carrier to each successful offerer, the Navy has the capability of scrapping additional conventionally powered aircraft carriers over a five-year period under delivery orders competed between the three contractors.

Esco Marine will develop its final plan for towing of Saratoga from its current berth in Newport, Rhode Island, to Esco's facility in Brownsville for approval by the USN. The ship is expected to depart Newport this summer.

The USS Saratoga was decommissioned Sept. 30, 1994, after more than 38 years of service. For 12 years, until April 2010, the ship was available for donation to a state or nonprofit organization for public display as a museum or memorial. However, no viable applications were received, and the vessel was redesignated for disposal.