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Millions for Never-Used Ships. Wednesday Waste?

This post was originally published on the Public Notice: Bankrupting America Blog.

A seemingly never ending saga involving broken contracts and hundreds of millions of dollars will come to a close as two former Navy oil tankers are transferred from James River, VA to their final resting place: a recycling facility in Texas.

As reported by The Virginian-Pilot, the Benjamin Isherwood and Henry Eckford ships will be scrapped following 25 years of political wrangling and construction limbo. This comes after $300 million was spent in the first attempt to build the ships, in 1985.

Sadly, these ships were never finished and, after many deals to salvage the ships failed, they will unfortunately never be used.

Since 1993, they have languished in the James River at 95 and 84 percent completion, respectively. At a cost of millions, ownership switched from the Navy, to the US Maritime Administration (MARAD), and now to the private company Able UK.

The English shipyard took control of the Isherwood and Eckford this past June, but quickly concluded that plans to complete the vessels were futile due to their obsolete single-hull design.

Now they are en route to International Shipbreaking Limited in Brownsville, Texas as part of an undisclosed scrap deal that leaves taxpayers with nothing to show for two and half decades of bureaucratic neglect.

Perhaps Joseph Keefe, lead commentator at Maritime Professionaldescribed the Washington oil tanker snafu best, as “one of the saddest chapters in American shipbuilding and for that matter, federal fiduciary folly.”

While $300 million is not equal to our $14.3 trillion debt, each taxpayer dollar saved is another step in the right direction.

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