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First Two Suisun Bay Ships to be Dismantled at the Former Mare Island Naval Shipyard

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  • Pacific Merchant Marine Council
    Members and Friends, I first learned of this at the CALMITSAC meeting November 3 and reported it November 4,
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 9, 2010
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      Members and Friends,
      I first learned of this at the CALMITSAC meeting November 3 and reported it November 4, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PMMC-NLUS/message/838. Referenced was the Bay Crossings article reproduced near the bottom of this message.
      MARAD is moving forward on removing the ships from its Suisun Reserve Fleet. But what about the USS IOWA (BB 61)?
      Speaking of MARAD, I am pleased to announce that another member of the Maritime Administration has come on board our Pacific Merchant Marine Council - James E. Caponiti, Assistant Administrator. He too was at the NLUS National Convention in Jacksonville and we had an all too brief time to chat. He did accept my invitation to affiliate with our council and for that I am grateful. Welcome aboard James!
      Please read about his career at the bottom of this post.
      Heave Ho,


      The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration today announced that it has awarded two contracts for a total of $3.1 million to Allied Defense Recycling of Petaluma, California, to clean and recycle two Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet ships, the SS Solon Turman and the SS President. The two ships are scheduled to be towed from Suisun Bay to the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard facility in for recycling in December.

      “The Obama Administration is running full-speed ahead in its commitment to cleaning up the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These contracts will help the local economy while advancing our mission of maintaining the Fleet in a safe and environmentally-sound manner.”

      In October 2009, the Obama Administration called for expedited cleanup of the fleet site and improved protection of the unique marine environment and surrounding bayside communities, setting a goal of removing 57 ships by September 30, 2017. Eleven ships were removed in the past year, surpassing the planned schedule of removing 10 ships in 2010.

      “This is further evidence of our commitment to clean up Suisun Bay,” said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. “The Mare Island recycling facility will bolster our efforts to remove obsolete ships and reduce environmental risks to the Bay.”

      MARAD currently cleans the hulls of obsolete ships before towing them nearly 5,000 miles through the Panama Canal to recycling facilities on the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic coasts. Allied Defense Recycling, using the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard, will recycle the ships avoiding the lengthy tow to ship recyclers in other areas.

      The Maritime Administration promotes the development and maintenance of an adequate, well-balanced, United States merchant marine fleet, sufficient to carry the Nation's domestic waterborne commerce and a substantial portion of its waterborne foreign commerce, and capable of service as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency. The Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet is one of three anchorages maintained by the Maritime Administration for national defense and national emergency purposes. For additional information about the Maritime Administration, visit www.marad.dot.gov.

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      Firm Wants to Dismantle ‘Ghost Fleet’ Locally at Proposed Mare Island Facility

      Petaluma-based Allied Defense Recycling (ADR) has announced ambitious plans for 16-plus acres of the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo.

      Plans for the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo include establishing a full-service marine-related facility on 16.6 acres. The facility will be operated by Allied Defense Recycling. Services will include maintenance, repair and dismantling of large ships. The facility will be the first of its kind on the West Coast. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission



      Petaluma-based Allied Defense Recycling (ADR) has announced ambitious plans for 16-plus acres of the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo. Those plans include blowing the dust off two long-dormant Navy dry docks, dredging a section of the Mare Island Strait to allow large vessels to reach those dry docks, and establishing the West Coast’s first large-ship-dismantling facility.


      With all eight of the necessary permits and approvals in its back pocket, ADR is waiting for a thumbs-up from the federal government. The project’s future, however, hinges on the awarding of a federal ship-dismantling contract from the Maritime Administration (MARAD), the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that oversees waterborne transportation.


      “The next step is for MARAD to confirm ADR as a qualified bidder and issue the bids,” said ADR’s attorney, Oakland-based Rena Rickles.


      Retired federal vessels must now be sent to a facility in Brownsville, Texas, for dismantling. According to ADR and its supporters, the proposed “West Coast option” is greener, more efficient and will save millions of taxpayer dollars.


      “Right now, the ships are towed to San Francisco, where the exterior paint is removed, then towed 5,000 miles through the Panama Canal to Texas,” Rickles said. “The trip takes 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel. That’s a pretty big greenhouse gas footprint, not to mention expensive.”


      “And the environmental regulations in Texas are a lot more lenient than in California,” said Karen Weiss, one of five permit analysts at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).


      Dismantling federal ships on Mare Island would cost taxpayers about $1 million less per ship than sending them to Brownsville. The ADR facility would not be able to handle the largest vessels, however. Those would still need to be sent to Brownsville for dismantling.


      Living up to California’s green standards

      In order to secure the necessary permits, ADR had to prove that its plan would protect both public health and the environment. To that end, work at the proposed facility would be done entirely in hermetically sealed chambers to prevent the release of lead, asbestos and other toxic materials.  Furthermore, the work would be done in the early morning hours, when winds in the area are lightest. Metal would be shipped off to scrap metal recycling facilities, and toxic materials would be hauled off in sealed containers for processing and disposal.


      The permitting process also involved working with three separate agencies to ensure the protection of those species of fish native to the waters surrounding Mare Island.


      “There are several endangered or threatened species that go through that area,” Weiss said. “There were concerns about the impact that dredging might have on those species, and that the fish might get caught in the dry docks’ uptake valves. Naturally, those concerns had to be addressed before the project could move forward.”


      To ensure that juvenile fish aren’t sucked up by a hydraulic dredge, ADR agreed to use a mechanical dredge for the bulk of the dredging. They also agreed to limit maintenance dredging in the future, and to perform dredging only during daylight hours as salmon tend to spawn at night. ADR also plans to remove a fish migration barrier, to restore a salmon spawning streambed in the nearby Napa River watershed, and to enhance and preserve five acres of adjacent tidal wetland.


      A boost to the local economy

      Rickles estimates that the project would create one hundred permanent union jobs. “Dismantling a big ship is no small fete,” she said. “And that’s not taking into account the ripple effect on Vallejo’s economy, because those employees will be supporting other local businesses.” “The City of Vallejo is excited to see this happen,” added Weiss.


      City officials are also excited about the promise of improved public access on the island. There currently is no public access on or near the site. As part of ADR’s agreement with Vallejo, the company would build a public access area that overlooks the facility, and that can eventually be connected to a proposed new segment of the Bay Trail.


      “It’s a win-win for Vallejo,” said Rickles. “We’re ready to move forward. We’re just waiting to see what MARAD comes back with.”

      James E. Caponiti, Assistant Administrator

      Mr. Caponiti began his Federal career in 1973 at the Cost of Living Council. He joined the Maritime Administration, at that time under the Department of Commerce, in 1974 as an Economist in the Office of Subsidy Administration.

      Mr. Caponiti currently serves as the Assistant Administrator where, as the senior Civil Servant and senior career SES Officer in the Agency, he assists the Maritime Administrator and Deputy Maritime Administrator in the daily management and oversight of the entire range of complex programs administered by the Maritime Administration. In this capacity, he is also principally responsible for the development of Agency strategic planning and policy analysis processes, and he serves as the Agency lead for international relations.

      Mr. Caponiti also serves as the Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Planning Board for Ocean Shipping (PBOS), a position he has held since his election in October 1997. The NATO PBOS is responsible for developing and maintaining plans for civil shipping support to deploy NATO military forces during times of crisis and war.

      Mr. Caponiti was appointed to the Senior Executive Service (SES) in March 1996 as the Maritime Administration's Associate Administrator for National Security where he served until May 2008. In that capacity, he was responsible for promoting and maintaining a U.S. merchant fleet to meet national security requirements. He was also responsible for the acquisition, maintenance, and management of a reserve fleet of vessels to support Department of Defense sealift operations. Prior to his SES appointment, Mr. Caponiti was named Director, Office of Sealift Support, under the new Associate Administrator for National Security, as part of a major reorganization of the Maritime Administration in October 1994. In that capacity, he was responsible for developing and executing programs to maintain and utilize U.S. commercial sealift capability and seafaring personnel.

      Earlier during his tenure at the Maritime Administration, Mr. Caponiti held a number of key positions administering promotional support programs to enhance the viability of U.S.-flag vessel operators. In 1982, he was appointed to the position of Chief, Division of Subsidy Analysis, and subsequently served as Chief, Division of Subsidy Rates, and Chief, Division of Ship Operating Costs. In 1993, he was named Director, Office of Ship Operating Assistance. Also, in 1993, Mr. Caponiti was asked to serve on a detail to the Merchant Marine Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he worked closely with the Chairman, Congressman William Lipinski, in developing legislation to revitalize the U.S. Merchant Marine.

      In 1984, Mr. Caponiti received the Maritime Administration's Bronze Medal Award for his outstanding contributions to the Operating-Differential Subsidy Program. In 1996, he received the Department of Transportation’s Silver Medal Award for outstanding dedication and performance in advancing the Administration's merchant marine assistance programs and the Voluntarily Intermodal Sealift Agreement Program. In 2000, Mr. Caponiti received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive. In 2004, Mr. Caponiti received the Secretary of Transportation’s War on Terrorism Award. In 2005, Mr. Caponiti received the Presidential Rank Award of Distinguished Executive.

      During the period from January 2001 to October 2002, Mr. Caponiti served as the Acting Deputy Maritime Administrator for Inland Waterways and Great Lakes.

      Mr. Caponiti holds a B.S. degree from the University of Maryland in Business Administration. He and his wife, Arlene, have a daughter and two sons. They reside in Rockville, Maryland.


    • usaseapower
      Ghost Fleet ships to be scrapped at Mare Island S.F. Chronicle-11/10/10 By Carl Nolte A couple of old ships will be bringing new life to the long-closed Mare
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 10, 2010
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        Ghost Fleet ships to be scrapped at Mare Island

        S.F. Chronicle-11/10/10

        By Carl Nolte

        A couple of old ships will be bringing new life to the long-closed Mare Island shipyard next month when two vessels from the so-called Ghost Fleet at Suisun Bay will be towed to Vallejo to be scrapped.

        The U.S. Maritime Administration announced today that it had awarded a $3.1 million contract to Allied Defense Recycling of Petaluma to scrap the SS President and the SS Solon Turman, two obsolete cargo ships that have been laid up in the Suisun Bay for decades.

        The government has been under pressure to dispose of these and other old ships, which have been anchored in Suisun Bay as a sort of ready reserve.

        However, the ships were never sent back to sea and gradually began to deteriorate, dropping old paint and heavy metals into the water. Environmentalists took the government to court, and last year and government promised to dispose of most of the ships.

        Eleven ships were broken out of the mothballed fleet this year and taken to a San Francisco shipyard, where they were cleaned and made ready for sea. They then were towed nearly 5,000 miles down the coast to Central America and through the Panama Canal to ship-dismantling facilities in Texas or on the Atlantic coast.

        Awarding a contract to scrap the ships in the Mare Island yard is a major change for the Maritime Administration and will mean a blue-collar job bonanza for Vallejo, which lost hundreds of jobs when the former Navy shipyard closed in 1996.

        Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who had a role in persuading the government to get rid of most of the old ships in the reserve fleet, hailed the decision to scrap at least some of the ships at Mare Island. "We've worked diligently with local groups and elected officials so that we create jobs here in Vallejo," he said.

        The two ships will be towed to Mare Island next month. The President, the first to be scrapped, is the former cargo and passenger vessel President Tyler, built in 1960 and operated by American President Lines out of San Francisco. It has been laid up for 31 years.

        The Solon Turman, a cargo ship built in 1961 and based on the East Coast, spent 22 years in the reserve fleet.#



        --- In PMMC-NLUS@yahoogroups.com, "Pacific Merchant Marine Council" <pmmc@...> wrote:

        Members and Friends,

        I first learned of this at the CALMITSAC meeting November 3 and reported it November 4, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PMMC-NLUS/message/838. Referenced was the Bay Crossings article reproduced near the bottom of this message.

        MARAD is moving forward on removing the ships from its Suisun Reserve Fleet...
      • usaseapower
        Global Maritime Analysis with Joseph Keefe November 2010
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 19, 2010
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          Marad & Mare Island: Miracle or Mirage?

          Nov 17, 2010, 8:39AM EST
          The West Coast, domestic ship disposal solution that Marad, California and environmental activists have been waiting for might be just around the corner. With the hard part seemingly over, it remains to be seen whether Marad's chosen contractor can deliver.

          This month's U.S. DOT announcement of contracts awarded to Allied Defense Recycling (ADR) to clean and recycle two Reserve Fleet ships seemingly heralds the break that U.S. Maritime Administration officials have long pined for on the U.S. West Coast. According to the November press release, two ships are scheduled to be towed from Suisun Bay to the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard facility for recycling in December. Local politicians praise the awards as the ideal solution to the problem of environmentally-correct disposal of the old, decaying hulls. Beyond this, the costly removal of marine growth from the hulls and subsequent towing of the vessels through the Panama Canal to Texas will also be obviated. As of Wednesday morning, only a few pieces of the puzzle remained to be solved.

          • Ghost Ships: Marad's Nightmare

          The aging, mothballed fleet of so-called "Ghost Ships" has been a thorn in Marad's side for many years, with the matter coming to a particularly hot boil during the tenure of Sean Connaughton as Marad Chief. During that time, numerous vessels were disposed of from both the Hampton Roads and Beaumont fleets, but the state of California [and a Coast Guard policy that addressed invasive species adhered to the vessel's hulls] stymied any Marad efforts to move the ships from Suisun Bay, once and for all. The local policy of not allowing the vessels to be moved until the "toxic" paint had been removed left Marad with few, if any options, on the West Coast.

          Marad, over the years, has taken a lot of heat for what they haven't done with regard to the three Ghost Ship fleets. Leaving aside, for a moment, the headaches of trying to get anything accomplished in a state like California, the Maritime Administration has actually moved more than 130 ships out of its National Defense Reserve Fleet sites since 2001. Marad is also on record as stating that California's obstructionist policy left the Golden State on the sidelines for a prolonged period of time as vessels from Texas and Virginia were rapidly sent out to recycling destinations. Don't forget that California is also the place where they hope to enforce an invasive species standard for active vessels trading with ballast that cannot be measured using existing technology. That the newest proposed solution has gotten this far is therefore a remarkable accomplishment in and of itself.

          More recently, a dozen ships had been scrubbed of invasive species at another local shipyard – at the reported whopping cost of $500,000 to $900,000 per hull – prior to being towed to Texas, more than 5,000 miles distant. The Mare Island solution, just 10 miles from the Suisun Bay fleet, not only provides local work for California labor, but also eliminates the costly step of scamping the hulls for invasive species. You have to wonder why no one has thought of it before. Actually, they have. And for that reason alone, it is worth taking a step back before breaking open the champagne.

          • The Mare Island Concept Takes Shape

          According to MarPro sources, Marad pre-qualified ADR as far back as 2005, but a protest made to the GAO quashed the whole thing. Then, in July of 2008, the Basel Action Network (BAN), an organization focused on `confronting the global environmental injustice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade,' reported on the possibility that the Mare Island site would come to fruition. Actually, the idea is a lot older than that.

          Contrary to public reports that suggest that ADR is the only qualified company that has coveted the Mare Island site, at least one other experienced recycler has, in the past, dipped their toes in the water here. Nevertheless, and fast forward (more than two years later) to October of 2010: Marad issued a notice of "Justification and Approval" for other than full and open competition under the commercial item test program. In general terms, the notice solicits Allied Defense Recycling to recycle and dispose of two vessels now situated in the Suisun Bay NRDF. According to the document, "A competitive announcement, with the time to obtain a quote for cleaning, evaluation, selection and award, would jeopardize the opening of the ADR facility….Under its dredging permit, ADR must complete the dredging by December 31, 2010." The disclosure also admits, "…failure to meet the dredging date could result in the demise of the Bay area recycling facility before it opens." No kidding.

          The dollar value of the contract for the disposal services, for reasons unknown, was redacted. Today, and in order for the facility to open as planned, dredging – which reportedly has not commenced – needs to be completed, in addition to a number of other preparatory tasks. And yet, on November 9th, Marad issued a press release (MARAD 19-10) announcing the award of a $3.1 Million Contract to a so far untested "Bay Area Ship Recycler."

          "This is further evidence of our commitment to clean up Suisun Bay," said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. "The Mare Island recycling facility will bolster our efforts to remove obsolete ships and reduce environmental risks to the Bay." Also according to Marad, "Allied Defense Recycling, using the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard, will recycle the ships avoiding the lengthy tow to ship recyclers in other areas." Or, so one would hope.

          • SITREP: November 2010

          On Tuesday, Marad spokeswoman Cheron Wicker confirmed that ADR was indeed working under a December 31st deadline to get the dredging complete. Separately, and also on Tuesday, ADR Managing Director Jay Anast was reached for comment. He told MarPro, "The dredging approvals are in place and we are waiting for the dredging equipment – which is enroute – to arrive on site." He added that the process was on schedule, and barring any unforeseen problems or delays, the dredging would be complete by the end of the year. Following that, he expected to take delivery of the first vessel by the end of January.

          Speaking to MarPro from overseas, Anast remained confident that ADR could accomplish the required tasks at the Mare Island shipyard by the 31 December deadline. He added, "Getting all of the approvals and permitting was the biggest challenge. We believe that the hard part is behind us." He characterized the near unanimous local support from the various planning commissions and boards as "especially gratifying." He put the cost of starting up the new, Mare Island ship disposal service at more than $6 million.

          Critics of the ADR plan at Mare Island cite Marad's secretive approval for "other than full and open competition" and pointed to the unproven track record of ADR in the ship disposal business. But Anast answered those concerns by insisting, "This is a startup company, but the principals have deep ship recycling experience – as many as 30 hulls in the past – and similar qualifications in hazardous material remediation." Anast went on to point out the reduced carbon footprint of the local ADR plan which would eliminate the need to burn 500,000 gallons of fuel to get the hulls to Texas. U.S. taxpayers, he said, would receive relief of up to $3 million reduction in the cost of disposing of each hull.

          It all sounds good. And, from the ADR side of the ledger, it gets even better. Assuming they can competently scrap the first two hulls, the startup firm would presumably then be the sole-source provider on the West Coast and be in position to take on the remaining 45 hulls still in the fleet. ADR Managing Director Jay Anast says that the hard part is behind him, but it is clear (at least to this writer) that the nascent project is not yet out of the woods. That said, he has gotten this far in what is widely regarded as perhaps the most onerous regulatory and political environment known to man.

          I honestly have no idea whether ADR's Mare Island facility will come up to speed and eventually serve as the environmentally-friendly, job-creating, West Coast ship disposal machine that Marad, California and ADR hope that it will be. It would, at the end of the day, be nice to see those ships begin to disappear in a more regular fashion from Suisun Bay. And, the clock is ticking. It remains to be whether this latest effort represents the "Miracle at Mare Island" or perhaps, "Marad's Mirage." Stay tuned. – MR

          * * * * *

          Joseph Keefe is the lead commentator of MaritimeProfessional.com. You can also read his work in MarineNews and The Maritime Reporter magazines. MaritimeProfessional.com is the largest business networking site devoted to the marine industry. Each day thousands of industry professionals around the world log on to network, connect, and communicate.

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