JUNE 17, 2013—Old Navy ships don’t die, they are reborn as girders, washing machines or razor blades. That could be the future for the decommissioned Cimarron Class fleet oiler USS Merrimack, which served in the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet during its 30-plus-year career. The ship is set to be scrapped at Louisiana ship recycler, Southern Recycling.
The decommissioned USS Merrimack docked at Southern Recycling's Amelia, LA, facility
Built back in 1981 by Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, the 700 foot-long ship is docked at Southern Recycling’s Amelia, LA, facility, waiting to be cut into “chunks” for recycling. Until it was decommissioned in December 1998, the USS Merrimack was used to refuel underway Navy ships. After it was decommissioned, the oiler was transferred to the U.S. Maritime Administration and became part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
Now the USS Merrimack has been sold by MarAd to Southern Recycling for scrapping, which should take four to five months to complete. Ships such as the Merrimack contain both ferrous and non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, copper and lead. Southern Recycling can then sell the scrap metal on the domestic and international markets.
Awaiting a similar fate at the Amelia facility was the 43-year-old tug Coastal Sun, which was built by Gulfport Shipbuilding, Orange, TX.
Owned by EMR, one of the world’s largest metal recyclers, Southern Recycling has waterfront facilities in New Orleans, Amelia, Morgan City, and Calcasieu, LA, and Brownsville, TX, with derrick cranes capable of lifting huge sections of steel weighing up to 350 tons.
Besides vessels, Southern Recycling also handles the scrapping of decommissioned offshore platforms. This is a growing market, which by some estimates has a value between $30 billion to $40 billion. Under the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s idle iron policy released in October 2010, platforms and offshore structures must be removed no later than 5 years after they become idle. A report by the Bureau of Safety, Environment and Enforcement estimates at least 359 of the 2,996 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are expected to be decommissioned by the end of 2013.