Bremerton's mothball fleet will shrink in stature once Kitty Hawk departs
By JULIANNE STANFORD | The Kitsap Sun (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 5, 2018
Bremerton's iconic waterfront collection of hulking, metal mothballed Navy ships will lose another of its prominent members in the next few years when the last remaining aircraft carrier heads off to the scrapyard.
At the end of the October 2017, the Navy announced the decision to scrap the former USS Kitty Hawk after holding the ship in reserve since the carrier was decommissioned in 2009. Although the Navy has not yet announced the date of when the carrier will depart or which company will be awarded the contract to dismantle the ship, Kitty Hawk's departure from the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Bremerton is only a matter of time.
There are currently seven ships, including the Kitty Hawk, that are moored in Bremerton's mothball fleet. The remaining vessels include the former amphibious transport dock ship Dubuque and the guided missile frigates Rodney M. Davis, Ford and Ingraham, all of which are pending disposal, said Naval Sea Systems Spokeswoman Colleen O'Rourke.
Both the Austin-class transport dock ships and the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile cruisers are no longer used by the Navy.
The fast combat support ships USNS Bridge and USNS Rainier, which were last a part of the Navy's civilian-crewed Military Sealift Command's fleet of combat logistics ships, are both being held in reserve at the inactive fleet as a cost-cutting effort.
At one point almost a decade ago, four decommissioned conventionally powered aircraft carriers were simultaneously mothballed in Bremerton, including the decommissioned USS Ranger, USS Constellation, USS Independence and the then-inactive USS Kitty Hawk, which was held in reserve as a retention asset.
Constellation was the first carrier towed away to International Shipbreaking's scrapyard in Brownsville, Texas in August 2014. Ranger departed in March 2015 and Independence left in March 2017.
As of now, there are no other ships that are scheduled to join Bremerton's mothball fleet, but that will most likely change. The Navy annually reviews the ships in its inventory and decides when and where to send decommissioned vessels, O'Rourke said.
Elsewhere along the Bremerton waterfront, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard has a line-up of 16 inactivated submarines awaiting recycling, said PSNS Spokesman J.C. Mathews.
PSNS is the only place the Navy inactivates and defuels nuclear-powered submarines.
As the Navy continues to bring more of the Virginia-class fast-attack submarines into the fleet, the shipyard has been tasked with cycling Los Angeles-class submarines out of service.
Thus far, the shipyard has recycled 11 Los Angeles subs, Mathews said. The shipyard is in the process of recycling the Indianapolis and Atlanta.
At the shipyard's Mooring A, where most vessels pending recycling are stored, awaits the USS Narwhal, Philadelphia, Memphis, Portsmouth, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Hyman G. Rickover, Augusta, Miami, Norfolk, Albuquerque, Houston, City of Corpus Christi and Long Beach.
Elsewhere in the shipyard, the USS Salt Lake City and Naval Research Vessel (NR-1) are also awaiting recycling.
The USS Dallas is the only submarine in the midst of the defueling and inactivation process at the shipyard. Mathews said that process should be completed in May 2018.
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