- Two large Navy ships, that have never been used, are headed for the scrap yard even though they are almost completely finished and ready for duty.
- Work began on the USNS Benjamin Isherwood and the USNS Henry Eckford in 1985 at the Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Company and were intended to carry fuel to the Navy's ships around the world.
- When the company defaulted on their Navy contract in 1989, the 600 foot ships were sent to Florida for completion. At the length of two football fields, these were not insignificant ships.
- The ships were eventually moved to the James River Navy yard and have sat there at 95% and 84% complete the past 18 years.
- A British company considered buying the ships and completing their build out for sale to a NATO country.
- However, since the ships are single hulled and double hulls are required for today's fuel carriers, the British company decided not to complete the construction and instead, settled on a $10 million contract and taxpayer expense to scrap the ships altogether.
- This week the ships are being towed to Texas to be cut up for scrap iron and scrap steel for recycling.
Thus, after spending $300 million to begin building the ships, almost finishing their construction, getting absolutely no use out of them, and paying to tow the ships from port to port, the taxpayers will get hit with one last insult and be charged $10 million to destroy the never used ship.
- Who is responsible for ordering the construction of these ships but never getting any use out of them? In the private market, if a business person was to incur that big of a screw up they would be out of a job.
- Was there nowhere in the world that these ships could have been sold in order for taxpayers to get some money back rather than incurring another $10 million cost to have them destroyed? Even though the could not be used to haul fuel, was there no company in the world who would not want a sturdy Navy ship to ship other goods in its hold that was not fuel related?
- There must be a Chinese shipping company who could use a new ship or two, especially since China's exports in the first half of 2011 was a record level of $874 billion, 20% higher than in 2010 (The Week, July 22, 2011). Thus, not only should the people responsible for building $300 million worth of ships be fired, the people who could not get anything in return by selling the ships should also be fired.
- This is a classic example of Step 34 from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government." Step 34 would remove politicians from any Congressional committee that does not do its committee job to at least to minimum standards. Whatever Congressional committee or subcommittee members were responsible for flushing $310 million of taxpayer wealth down the drain need to be removed from their committee or subcommittee posts.
- The article contains a quote from Joseph Keefe from www.maritimeprofessinal.com who stated that the scrapping the ships will "close one of the saddest chapters in American shipbuilding history and for that matter, Federal fiduciary folly." In other words, what a waste of taxpayer money. Very well said, Mr. Keefe.
Another scary aspect of this story is the thought that this may not be an isolated incident. What other $300 million wastes are hanging around the Pentagon closets? With Pentagon resources deployed in three war zones, dozens of foreign countries, and probably most of the fifty states, I find it hard to believe that this is the only wasted money in the Pentagon budget. Eliminating this type of despicable behavior would reduce the Pentagon budget without further endangering the defense of the United States.
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