The USS Iowa is part of a fleet of over 50 ships that have been moored (and slowly disintegrating) for decades in Suisun Bay. Photo: Telstar Logistics
SUISUN CITY (CBS13) ― More than seventy ships that once served our country are now just rusting away, polluting Northern California waterways. Everyone agrees that’s a problem, but is the plan to dismantle them dead in the water?
Even if it isn’t it’s costing taxpayers five million dollars a year to moor them there. Who’s accountable for the ghost fleet of Suisun Bay, and what are they doing about the problem?
They’re grey giants, an important part of our nation’s naval history, critical to the country’s defense as far back as World War Two. Now, more than 50 are considered obsolete and named on a list of vessels to be dismantled and sold for scrap.
Some of them have been rusting away for decades. This storage fleet was established just after World War II and is now managed by the National Maritime Administration, also called MARAD.
MARAD’s on the hot seat because the water around these ships is polluted with toxic metals like lead, zinc and copper. A 2007 environmental study found close to 20 tons of the toxins. Experts believe much of it comes from paint flaking off the fleet and say it’s spreading.
“Even down in channels in Alameda and San Francisco,” says Saul Bloom of Arc Ecology, an environmental group studying the fleet. He says the pollutants are even “up in the Delta, that’s how serious the problem is.”