Lawmakers demand ‘mothball fleet’ briefing

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., are pressing the Bush Administration for a plan to make sure the “mothball fleet” that’s rusting out there in Suisun Bay isn’t releasing toxic materials into the water.


In a letter sent today to the federal Maritime Administration — which maintains the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet and is responsible for its cleanup — the lawmakers asked for a briefing on the current state of the long-mothballed navy fleet and for an update on specific steps the Administration is taking. Our brethren at the Contra Costa Times revealed last Sunday that the administration received a report in February on possible environmental damage, but it’s unclear whether anything is being done about it.

“The beauty and the utility of the bay are two of our region’s greatest resources,” Tauscher said. “Because of this we need to be vigilant and take every step toward protecting it from present and future environmental hazards. The fact that the have been sitting on this report for months is infuriating. Bay Area citizens have the right to know the environmental impact of the mothball fleet which is why we are putting pressure on the Bush administration to let us know what, if any, plans they have to protect our Bay.”

Said Miller: “We recognize that this is a complicated situation but inaction is not a solution. We intend to keep the pressure on the administration to develop a plan that protects the environment and allows for these ships to be disposed of properly.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • This is a billion dollars problem for sure. The lack of dredging has resulted in the ships sitting on the mud. The political instincts will avoid this issue until a ship sinks and pollutes the bay. This political will only acts in the short term fix resulting from public outcry after the problem has grown long legs for many years to come!

  • PAPA

    Why don’t they turn some of these ships into “Prison” ships? Let me explain…Take the young non-violent offenders and train them to repair and maintain these ships. Teach them a trade they can use once they are through serving their time. There are many many possibilities with this concept. Just a thought.

  • Sean

    Ok,I don’t exactly agree that the ships should be “Disposed of”.

    The navy keeps old ships because it’s much much cheaper to modernize an old ship for a new mission than it is to build a brand new ship for one specific purpose. That’s why alot of surface Warfare ships have multiple mission types.

    As for an environmental concern, Ships come in and out of the bay every minute of the day. i wouldn’t worry too much about these. Undoubtedly they will be used again.

    Perhaps the lawmakers should ask the ships to be donated to charities. I’ve heard of organizations sinking ships so they may be turned into artifical reefs.

    Papa’s Idea was good. alot of those guys could have a future in the Merchant Marines if they had that kind of experience.

    Granted, dredging will be costly, but putting these ships to good use is A fine Idea. I don’t live in the area, so If something happens, would someone be kind enough to give me a heads up?

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