Bay Area Firm To Recycle 2 Mothballed Ships In Suisun Bay

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The battleship USS Iowa at left, is anchored with other ships in the "ghost fleet" at the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in Benicia. (AP)

The battleship USS Iowa at left, is anchored with other ships in the “ghost fleet” at the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in Benicia. (AP)

SUISUN BAY (KCBS) – A Bay Area company has been awarded an $8 million contract to clean and recycle two Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet ships.

The decision was announced by the U.S. Maritime Administration on Tuesday. It is expected to generate many new blue-collar jobs in Vallejo.

KCBS’ Bob Butler Reports:

The ships that will be scrapped on Mare Island—the SS President and the SS Solon Turman—are among dozens of mostly obsolete military vessels in Suisun Bay slated to be destroyed as part of a settlement with environmental groups. Critics said the ships had been polluting the waterway for decades.

Allied Defense Recycling of Petaluma had been working for ten years to secure the contract.

The company’s managing director, Jay Anast, said he is hoping to get started on the project within days.

“We are supposed to start dredging next week,” he said. “If that actually begins, we’ll be done with dredging by about mid-December and hopefully, the first ship will arrive at Mare Island by the end of January.”

Anast said once they do get started with the project, they will be looking to hire local residents.

“Once we become fully operational, we anticipate a minimum of 120 jobs,” said Anast. “We’re going through the Union of Operating Engineers and they have a mandate to hire locally. So hopefully, we’ll get a lot of Vallejo residents.”

Before the contract was awarded, mothball ships that were recycled had to be towed 5,000 miles through the Panama Canal to recycling facilities on the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic coasts.

The SS President and SS Solon Turman are expected to be towed to Mare Island next month.

In October 2009, the Obama Administration called for the expedited cleanup of the fleet site, setting a goal of removing 57 ships by September of 2017.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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