Naval Air: June 12, 2003


One of the aircraft carriers returning from action in Iraq is being decommissioned. The USS Constellation (CV-64) has served for 41 years and is one of three non-nuclear carriers in the fleet. The ship launched 1,500 sorties during the Iraq campaign. It will cost $1.9 million for a contractor to perform the specialized tasks required to decommission the ship. This includes installation of propulsion shafting and rudder locking devices, sea valves, temporary power and towing modifications. The contractor will also assist members of the crew in removing equipment and cleaning the ship up for mothballing. The ship will be towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where it will be tied up for possible future use. A small maintenance crew will look after the decommissioned Constellation until it is either reactivated, or broken up for scrap. At the moment, it's cheaper to mothball the ship, as breaking it up would cost nearly $40 million, because of environmental rules implemented during the 1990s. Mothballing costs less than a million dollars a year. It would take up to half a billion dollars, and 6-12 months, to reactivate the Constellation for regular carrier service. It would take less money, and time, to reactivate the ship for something like special operations support.


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