Navy needs more time to determine approach for recycling USS Enterprise

By Justin Doubleday / February 27, 2017 at 12:15 PM

The Navy has not yet decided how to conduct the first-ever disposal of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and the service is now considering placing the ship in storage for years and punting the decision to a later date.

“The Navy has decided to cancel the August 2016 request for proposals for the commercial recycling of the non-nuclear portions of ex-USS Enterprise (CVN-65), taking no action at this time,” Navy spokesman William Couch wrote in a Feb. 27 emailed statement. “The Navy has identified that it requires more information to determine the approach for the disposal of CVN-65, including the reactor plants, that is more technically executable, environmentally responsible and is an effective utilization of Navy resources. No decision on a preferred approach has been made to this point.”

Inside the Navy reported earlier this month that the service was considering multiple options for commercially recycling the Enterprise. The Navy had originally planned to dismantle and dispose of the ship at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington state, but officials decided the work would not be an effective use of Puget’s limited resources.

Options now being considered include giving the Enterprise to a commercial company for partial recycling of the non-nuclear components, or for a full recycling, which would include dismantling the eight defueled reactor plants, according to Couch.

He said a third option being considered is placing the Enterprise in “intermediate-term storage for a limited number of years” and deferring a decision on recycling the ship for a later date. Couch said the service is working to identify a storage location.

The service is currently defueling the Enterprise at Newport News Shipbuilding, with the inactivation availability expected to wrap up in August, according to Couch. The ship will then be put into temporary storage until the Navy decides on a plan for its disposal, the spokesman wrote.

The service is drafting an environmental impact statement examining the disposal options for CVN-65 and expects to publish the EIS “as soon as possible,” according to Couch.