Donn de Grand-Pre Col. Donn de Grand-Pre, U. Also served as Commander of Special Troops for the U.
These historic vessels—the Mothball Fleet—served their country in four wars: After a decade of impasse, the ghost fleet is slowly dwindling as the ships are towed out one-by-one for scrapping. About 15 retired ships are already gone; bythe entire fleet will be just a memory. Sneaking on-board required months of planning and coordination, and it involved taking significant risks.
Of course, things did not always go as planned, but despite several close calls, we were successful in all of our attempts to infiltrate the ships while evading round-the-clock security patrols. The mothballed ships once numbered close toand invessels still lined the waters of Suisun Bay.
Although the ships continued to dwindle down over time, approximately 75 remained throughout the s, rusting and leaching toxic heavy metals into the bay as the Bush administration did little to address the crumbling ships.
Retired war ships like the Iowa were laid up in Suisun Bay for decades awaiting their next battle, but the call never came. Instead, they have sat unused and largely forgotten.
But the Iowa will likely see a different fate than its sister ships who await their ultimate demise at a shipbreaker. Vallejo is currently in a heated battle with the port of Los Angeles San Pedro to secure rights to the battleship and turn it into a museum.
Guns on the deck of the USS Iowa. Ticking Environmental Time Bombs The ships have shed more than 20 tons of toxic paint debris that have settled into bay sediments, where they will cause problems long after the ships are gone. Planning As news began to mount that the ships would finally be towed out for scrapping, we knew we had to act fast if we wanted to explore and document them.
We had fantasized for years about getting aboard, but it always seemed too difficult and other sites presented fewer challenges.
In addition, the potential repercussions of trespassing are likely more severe than other locations we explore. One intimidating factor was our inability to find out what the penalties might entail if we did get caught, making it difficult to weigh the risks.
The President, which was towed to Mare Island in March to be scrapped. In May, it was towed out again, this time to Texas, in a swap for its sister ship, the President Lincoln, which was deemed too un-seaworthy to make the voyage to Texas.
But we knew that many inherent risks could be mitigated with enough planning and preparation. Before making our first trip on the water, Stephen scoped out the environs to assess how close we could get to the water on foot, which along with satellite imagery, helped us determine our route.
Later, we made a second visit just to observe the hour security patrols from the safety of the shoreline. We also purchased a scanner to eavesdrop on nearby radio communications and studied tidal patterns, planning our trips accordingly.
Sea Shadow inside the Hughes Mining Barge. We had to overcome numerous obstacles just to get to the ships without even addressing the issues involved in getting on them. To get across the channel, we acquired a small, inflatable raft that was just big enough for the three of us and our gear, along with a small motor powered by a car battery.
A raft seemed ideal several reasons: An inflatable raft does have its disadvantages.
But the primary drawback is that holes are nearly inevitable. On our second trip, we discovered several holes as we readied the boat along the roadside.
Luckily, we found a patch kit at a nearby gas station, and we were back in business. Another time, we discovered leaks on our return trip as we were leaving the ships. In this case, we continuously pumped up the boat while still on the water.
Scouting Mission For our first trip, we decided to play it safe and treat it purely as a scouting mission. We did not bring our cameras or overnight gear, and we approached the ships cautiously.This website provides responsible criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report by senior military, intelligence and government officials.
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