The US Navy Has Sold Two War-Veteran Aircraft Carriers for Pennies

No, we're not exaggerating.
Ameya Paleja
USS Kitty Hawk at sea.Navsource/Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Navy has concluded the sale of two aircraft carriers, USS Kitty Hawk and USS John F.Kennedy to a Texas-based shipbreaking company for a cent each, USA Today reported.

Made out of high-grade metal, ships are a great resource for recycling. From tug boats to military-grade vessels, ships are broken down to their individual parts after they are decommissioned. However, breaking them down is not that easy due to their size and older ships contain dangerous compounds like mercury,  asbestos, and at times radioactive material. Globally, ship breaking and recycling is a massive and specialized industry. 

Breaking a decommissioned ship requires it to be ferried from the port of decommissioning to a ship-breaking facility which is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. Since the owner of the ship is responsible for eventual recycling as well, companies and the U.S. Navy usually pay good money to ship-breaking companies to get the job done.

In the case of these veteran warships, the ship-breaking company is expected to make decent profits from the scrap steel, iron, and non-ferrous metals on the ship, USA Today reported, and therefore, the U.S. Navy did not shell out anything except for a nominal fee of one cent. The contract was awarded to Brownsville, Texas-based International Shipbreaking Limited (ISL).

According to its website, the company has the capacity to break and recycle 30,000 tons of ships every year and in the past has served the Royal Australian Navy apart from commercial ship owners and the U.S. Navy.  The ISL has previously broken down carriers such as USS Constellation, USS Independence, and USS Ranger for the U.S. Navy, a local news media site reported. 

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According to Business Insider, both these ships were pressed into service in the 1960s. While the USS Kitty Hawk served in the Vietnam War, USS John F. Kennedy was in action during the Gulf War of 1991. While the former was decommissioned in 2017, the latter was decommissioned way back in 2009 but has remained in the naval yards, ever since.

The company will now begin the process to arrange for the towing of these aircraft carriers, which could reach Brownsville in the next 10-18 weeks. The company might also arrange for an arrival ceremony and invite veterans who served on the ship for a final glance at the ship. However, an on-deck visit is not permitted as per the signed contract, the local media company reported. 

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