Maritime Administration News Release

News Release #: MARAD 11-09
Date: Sep 17 2009
Contact: Susan Clark
Contact Phone: 202-366-5807

Federal, State Officials Hail Progress at James River Fleet Site

Say Cooperation Made Cleanup Possible

Newport News, Va. - Acting Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine today noted significant progress in moving obsolete ships out of the James River Reserve Fleet, citing cooperation between state and federal officials in helping move the complex process forward.

"Working together effectively has truly lowered the risk of environmental damage here," said Matsuda. He noted that, counting the ship Escape that left the fleet on Tuesday, 84 ships have departed the James River site since January 1, 2001, 80 of which were obsolete and removed for recycling. With the removal of the vessel Escape, only 18 obsolete ships remain today Matsuda added, "This Administration wants to redouble efforts to make all National Defense Reserve Fleet sites the best possible models of environmental management and green practices."

"The progress made here by the Maritime Administration and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality reinforces the Commonwealth's commitment to protecting water quality and fisheries in the James River," said Governor Kaine. "This cooperation between state and federal agencies has greatly reduced the number of ships in the James River Reserve Fleet in an environmentally sound manner."

The average condition of ships that remain in the James River Reserve Fleet is much better than it was even five years ago. The Maritime Administration policy of "worst first" meant that the ships with the worst hull condition and those holding the most oil left the fleet first.

The Maritime Administration keeps ships at three National Defense Reserve Fleet sites: the James River Reserve Fleet in Virginia, the Beaumont Reserve Fleet in Texas, and the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in California. When ships become obsolete, the Maritime Administration arranges for their disposal.