00:40 GMT +326 March 2017
    The Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise rests at the pier as it is gutted before being official decommissioned at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, May 8, 2013, during the Department of Defense's tour deemed Navy 101

    US Navy Struggles to Dispose of First Nuclear Aircraft Carrier

    © AFP 2017/ JIM WATSON
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    Decommissioning the USS Enterprise after 55 years of operation will not include commercial recycling, as was previously planned. The service has yet to pin down an appropriate plan to dismantle America’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

    The Navy is scrapping previous plans to put non-nuclear elements of the retired carrier into commercial recycling programs. The Navy retired the ship on February 3, and moved to cancel a request for a proposal to conduct a commercial recycling program, according to a statement. 

    “The Navy has identified that it requires more information to determine the approach for the disposal of CVN 65 [the USS Enterprise], including the reactor plans,” according to Navy spokesman William Couch. The next approach has not been identified, but will be, according to Couch, “more technically executable, environmentally responsible,” and “an effective utilization of Navy resources.”

    In the meantime, the carrier will stay at the the Newport News shipbuilding yard in Virginia until August 2017. After the carrier completes “inactivation availability,” the Enterprise is intended to enter another storage facility. The Navy has not disclosed its plans for temporary or permanent storage of the legacy vessel. 

    There are a few options the service has regarding what can be done with the eight reactors on the Enterprise, according to Navy Sea Systems Command. It can choose to dismantle the reactors altogether, or search for ways that the power generators could be repurposed. 

    Alternatively, the Navy may simply postpone the decision of what to do with the reactors. This option would include locking up the Enterprise in storage for a “limited number of years.” There are ports in Puget Sound, as well as Bremerton, Washington, where the Enterprise could be moored as part of an intermediate storage option. Since 2012, Navy officials have grappled with how to appropriately deconstruct the historic ship. After five years there has been little progress. Sending the ship to Puget Sound, for example, would interfere with ongoing shipbuilding projects, the Virginian-Pilot reported. The Navy had solicited offers from contractors to commercially repurpose certain components of the ship but even this strategy has been abandoned. 

    The key aspects to decommissioning the vessel are the cost and the environmental impact. “Given the complexities of the issues involved in recycling CVN 65, the Navy remains committed to a fully open and public process for conducting the first-ever disposal of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,” Couch said. 

    The Navy plans to meet with community groups to “ensure the Navy has the opportunity to understand public concerns with the alternatives.” 


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    • richatstructure
      Simple. Just sink it off the coast of Fukushima. Can't make it any worse. /sarc
    • American Socialist
      if no one noticed.. the Navy would have just disposed of it in a landfill.
      they filed plans for recycling for good PR and to convince the public the Navy is a law abiding, environmental friendly agency.... NOT! they didn't think anyone would have noticed the cancellation and change of plans.
    • avatar
      Remove the nuclear reactor and add a conventional propulsion system. Modify the interior for better living spaces (including hanger bay), and remove the tower and assemble a smaller one. Lock the aircraft elevators systems. Make the ship into an ocean research vessel, plus have the NAVY team up with the FAA and make the C-130 its prime aircraft. The Enterprise can be converted into a more peaceful ship, meaning it can be use to bridge nations for better relations, like with China and Russian. Catamaran and trimaran aircraft carriers *** flight deck ships with longer runways *** can be the future peace bridging ships of tomorrow.

      Note: light weight concrete floats, like adding foam into a soda can, so down below deck spaces can be filled with light weight concrete (I have always wondered about that): Oil rig platform columns/base foundation --- ????.

      Note 2: Nano Flowcell is a small company that came out with a power system that uses the salt water to power its vehicle. So maybe them down below decks can be use to setup that type of a battery system. And I have had my eye on salt water battery system as well.
    • support
      Thanks for your excellent and noble idea, Outlander88, but unfortunately steel is not forgiving and fatigues over time just like people only worse. People age in increments while steel waits until the optimum opportunity to fracture and crack so that ti can do the most damage lol!

      This works in many ways but mostly determining steel's fatigue rate comes down to the behaviour of the carbon component of steel which actually migrats over time out of steel and into the atmosphere with age while still bonded to molecules of iron and what are known as "doping" components like molybdenum, manganese. etc. Th is known as solw-acting decarburization.

      This all happens in addition to oxidative processes which are a function of entrapped sulfur from the manufacturing process forming over time sulfurica acid which in turn facilitates the oxidation process of iron components.

      While a ship's hull can be berthed at a dock for many more decades after its service life on the high seas eventually even that hull must go.

      Seeing as this vessel was constructed long before asbestos regulations were passed, I believe the asbestos content issues are the fly in the ointment. I also think that is the issue respecting re-purposing the nuclear thus essentialy steam power plant on board too. While the asbestos on board was encased and sealed when the Enterprise was in service, tearing this vessel down for re-purposing will be a profoundly expensive proposition.

      The ABS (American Bureau of Ships) and the IMO (international Maritime Organisation) will never re-certify this hull for seagoing re-purposing in either event. The vessel is too old and is essentiallt the world's largest floating nuclear asbestos sandwich.

      Russia had a similar problem in the 1990's. I wonder how they dealt with it. This is a problem for which plasma gasification was designed though never on this scale before but there are megatonnes of nuclear waste which also need to be disposed of worldwide so maybe a plasma gasification unit this size could pay for itself fairly rapidly.

      This is something new to play with using my ten-key papertape calculator & reference books over the coming weekend. Thank you, Sputnik News!
    • avatar
      Truth be known the metals and material the had planned to put into the recycling stream are to highly contaminated with radiation....kind of takes the incentive out of it if the people you want to sell to are dead before they can sell it!
    • avatar
      ViTranin reply torichatstructure(Show commentHide comment)
      richatstructure, Off California ... as said cannot make it any worse
    • avatar
      double bonus
      Sell it to the North Koreans for $1 and let them deal with it.
      The DPRK is offering 200,000 - 5,000,000 won for Warships;
      that is worth the equivalent of 70 - 1,750 kg of Gold Bullion.
    • avatar
      How would the Navy handle nuke carriers sunk or damaged in action?
    • avatar
      Jackovin reply toAmerican Socialist(Show commentHide comment)
      American Socialist, US military is exempt from EPA regulations.
    • avatar
      and what of the others to follow...? :)
    • avatar
      Turn it into prison of some sort perhaps for sentenced inmates awaiting the death penalty brings to mind the pirate call "walk the plank me hearty".
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