The Navy is trying to figure out how to dispose of the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
The Navy plans to decide by late 2022 how to dispose of the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and likely will turn to the private sector for help, documents show.
The former USS Enterprise, now rusted and gutted, sits pier-side at Huntington Ingalls Newport News shipyard, where it was built and launched amid great fanfare more than 50 years ago.
It remains to be seen whether HII will be involved in disposal of the Big E. The Navy has scheduled a public meeting June 18 in Newport News to hear comments on different options as it develops an environmental impact statement.
The ship’s fate has been an open question for a few years.
Since the early 1990s, the end of the line for aging nuclear warships has been Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash. But that yard has handled older cruisers and submarines.
Disposing of Enterprise is a first-of-its-kind job, and the Navy has re-examined its traditional Pacific Northwest strategy with eye toward cutting costs and saving time.
The alternatives currently on the table:
- Dismantle Enterprise at a commercial ship-breaker except for the naval reactor compartments. Those would go to Puget Sound for processing and disposal. The compartments would be divided into eight packages — one for each nuclear reactor — and shipped to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford site in eastern Washington, the longstanding facility for disposal of naval reactor compartments.
- The same process as the first, except the naval reactor compartments would be divided into four heavier packages, not eight smaller ones
- Dismantle Enterprise at a commercial ship-breaker, then cut apart the eight reactor plants into segments and package them into several hundred small containers for storage at an established DOE site or a licensed commercial waste facility.
- Keep the Enterprise intact and mothball it. That would require “periodic maintenance …read more
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