In a press conference on Friday, October 12, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet is getting smaller and the government is using some of the money it earns by selling the obsolete vessels to fund maritime education.
LaHood was in Solano County last week to swear in the new president of the California Maritime Academy, Rear Admiral Thomas Cropper and to tour the mothball fleet anchored off Benicia in Suisun Bay.
In 2010 the Department of Transportation committed to removing 28 ships from the fleet by the end of September 2012. To date, 36 ships have been removed with another three ships slated to leave the fleet before the end of the year.
“Three years ago, the Department of Transportation promised to get rid of the ships that posed a threat to the environment, and I am proud to announce today that we are delivering on that promise, said LaHood in a release. “Removing these vessels restores the beauty of the bay and support area jobs connected with the removal and recycling of the ships.”
Five of the remaining ships anchored off Benicia will remain in the reserve fleet. The other 21 ships will be sold for scrap. High world prices for steel have created a market for the vessels.
“This is a win-win for California and for the nation,” said LaHood at the press conference. “We’ve put to work recycling these ships and cleaning up the bay and we’ve made improvements that will benefit generations to come.”
“Additionally, some of the money the government earns recycling these ships goes to support our state maritime academies including support for Cal Maritime in Vallejo,” said LaHood who noted that $5.5 million has been sent to the academies this year from proceeds of the ship sales.
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