Home » Budget Industry » GAO Report on Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Disposal


GAO Report on Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Disposal

The following is the Aug. 2, 2018 Government Accountability Office Report, Aircraft Carrier Dismantlement and Disposal.

From the Report:

The Navy is assessing two options to dismantle and dispose of its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier—ex-USS Enterprise (also known as CVN 65). CVN 65 dismantlement and disposal will set precedents for processes and oversight that may inform future aircraft carrier dismantlement decisions.

The Navy could rely on its extensive regulatory experience for the naval shipyard option. However, the Navy’s ability to effectively evaluate the full commercial option is hampered by a disagreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which oversees the commercial nuclear industry. Naval Reactors officials assert that NRC’s regulatory authority should apply to the full commercial option. NRC disagrees with this position. Coordination between the two agencies to identify the applicable regulatory authority and craft a regulatory plan would help ensure accountability, solidify cost estimates, and facilitate a CVN 65 decision.

The budget documentation and reporting that the Navy typically uses for ship dismantlement and disposal projects will not enable adequate oversight of CVN 65—a multi-year project with a cost that may exceed $1 billion. The documents that support Navy budget requests for dismantlement and disposal funding do not provide data that decision makers can readily use to track dismantlement costs against an established baseline or to evaluate funding plans for future years. Further, the Navy has no reporting requirements to support accountability for CVN 65 activities. Large defense acquisition programs generally are required to submit more detailed budget information and report on cost, schedule, and performance. These practices could be adapted for CVN 65 to provide information that will facilitate oversight commensurate with the scale of the effort.

  • Kypros

    A billion and a half to dispose of a ship? Wow!

    • NavySubNuke

      If we are lucky….
      I have no idea what the cost breakdown is between the nuclear side and the rest of the ship but dismantling and cleaning up those 8! reactors will not be a simple or easy task. By the time she was de-comming there were quite a few stories about the level of surface contamination in some of her spaces. None of it bad enough to be actually hazardous to health — but cleaning it up to meet disposal standards is a very different issue.

      • muzzleloader

        I was at the deactivation ceremony in 2012, and there was talk then about the contamination in the spaces adjacent to the reactors.
        The 8 reactors need to be disposed of properly ( the yucca mountains)?
        As for the ship itself, I share your sentiments. How about sinking the hull in 30,000 feet of water?
        I’m sure the environmentalists would scream bloody murder, but the cost savings would be epic.

        • RunningBear

          “I was at the deactivation ceremony in 2012, and there was talk then
          about the contamination in the spaces adjacent to the reactors.”

          So the commercial/ environmental value of the other 3/4’s of 93,000 tons of metal systems is to be wasted, because??

          • muzzleloader

            The scrap value of the hull would be around $80 million, which be would grossly outweighed by the estimated $ 1 billion of scrapping the ship. Perhaps a limited salvage could be done, such as the island structure, the aircraft elevators, the flight deck steel, and scuttle the rest?

          • Rocco

            Yeah the scrap yard makes out big time & the Navy or the taxpayers get nothing back!!

          • tiger

            Value? The Navy has dozens of ships scrap. The recycle value is low.

          • Donald Carey

            The current oversupply of steel production is already causing problems and a trade war.

        • publius_maximus_III

          Off the coast of Japan: the Godzilla option.

          • Rocco

            Lol

      • Rocco

        There was actually another blog on this over the weekend that broke it down.

        • NavySubNuke

          Dang – wish you could post the link. Do you remember the name?

          • Rocco

            I believe the Navy times

    • publius_maximus_III

      Many commercial nuclear power plants will need to be retired soon, and that won’t be cheap either.

      • Secundius

        In 1997, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) started using “DUCrete” (Depleted Uranium Concrete) to Shield Spent Fuel Rods and “Other” Nuclear Waste. And Lead Shielding for Nuclear Reactors was Augmented with a DUAGG (Depleted Uranium Aggregate) “UO2”. By adding UO2 (i.e. depleted Uranium Oxide) into HY80 Steel in constructing Nuclear Reactor Containment Vessels. Were existing are already in place, UO2 can be “Sintered” around existing Nuclear Reactors as an extra layer of shielding…

    • tiger

      And that is one. We have a whole Nimitz class hitting retirement.

      • Secundius

        DUAGG (Depleted Uranium AGGregate) or “Sintering” with “Depleted Uranium Oxide”. Which uses Old Stock Depleted Uranium in Powder form (i.e. Oxide), which cost ~$5-Dollars per pound (Cheap). But costs ~$1.5-Dollars per Square Millimeter to apply (Expensive). Or surround the Containment Vessel in a DUCrete (Portland Cement/Depleted Uranium Oxide covering). Either way, Expensive as He||…

  • NavySubNuke

    I have to wonder how much of that cost is purely because of the nuclear aspects and how much is the rest of the ship.
    Could we tear out all 8 reactors and the associated equipment and then just sinkex the rest? How much would that actually save?

    • Rocco

      If it wasn’t for the reactors the Navy would just have it scrapped like all others past for a lousy 1¢!!!!
      It’s not that the planning for her schedule to be scrapped wasn’t coming , because the Navy doesn’t want to deal with it!! So what’s the deal when the Nimitz class falls in the same situation?

      • NavySubNuke

        The last few have been more than a penny — the trouble is the environmentalists started clamping down on how these ships are recycled so it isn’t nearly as profitable as it used to be.
        Nimitz and her sisters shouldn’t be “as” bad since they only have 2 reactors and they don’t have quite the same level of issues with them — but they will still be expensive I am sure.
        But just think about all the hungry/lonely fish just waiting to turn these into reefs once they have been decommed and the reactors pulled.

        • vetww2

          Don’t forget all the hungry/lonely shipyard owners waiting to turn this into a financial bonanza.

          • NavySubNuke

            Please – there are so many ships that need to be built or repaired over the next few years the last thing any of the shipyards want is to be saddled with this. Once they get a look at what needs to be done to cut up and scrap her they are going to be begging the navy to send it ANYWHERE else!

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Too bad this magnificent ship could not be preserved as a museum. It was a groundbreaker, and had a tremendous service record.

    • Rocco

      She’s too big! Would cost too much plus components on the ship are still even though outdated not for the public to see or touch. I know this personally!!

      • Chesapeakeguy

        No arguments. But I still think that it’s too bad preserving her isn’t a doable option.

        • Rocco

          I hear you!! Agreed besides the cost to run & man it would be crazy. There are no basin’s to put her that’s accessable to the public. I ran into this situation with the Forrestal on where it could go & who would host her. However CV-6 Enterprise should of been saved!!

    • If sunk in diver-accessible waters, I would be glad to start a diver museum and tour and charge for the attraction. This would be the biggest and best scuba-diver destination in the world, I think.

      • Rocco

        You have any idea what it takes to decom & clean a carrier up just to sink it??

      • muzzleloader

        There is already a diver accessible carrier.
        The USS Saratoga (CV-3) at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

        • Hugh

          But don’t want the opposition snooping on carrier designs from the past 60 or so years……

        • Donald Carey

          Not exactly a weekend diver’s location, try again after you look at an atlas.

          • muzzleloader

            I know where the Marshalls are, and you would be surprised at how many divers do make the trip every year.

          • Secundius

            Approximately 250 Drivers visit the Atoll each year, but costs ~$12,000.00 USD per person for Two Weeks. And Dives are Restricted to ~10% of the Atomic Blast Sight because of Residual High Levels of Cesium 137 in the dive area…

          • muzzleloader

            Yes, $12,000 is too rich for my pay grade. There is also the USS Oriskany (CV-34) off the coast of Pensacola, quite easier to get to.

          • Donald Carey

            A very tiny fraction of the total, and you know it. Try again.

          • muzzleloader

            Try what again? Do you enjoy being obtuse?

    • tiger

      We can not even support a ship a small as Dewey’s Olympia. The size & cost of a CVN is a non starter anyplace.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Yet we still build and deploy them…

        • tiger

          I’m talking about museum ships…,.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            So am I. We have large carriers (though admittedly nothing as large as the ‘Big E’!) that are operating as museums. We have the Nautilus as a museum. All of the Iowa class BBs are museums. I used the wrong word in “deploy”. I should have said “employ”.

          • tiger

            They exist, but few make big money or have big crowds. Intrepid and Midway and to a lesser degree Missouri do so based on location. The rest just get by.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            But, they do exist! But obviously that won’t happen with CVN-65!

    • vetww2

      Too bad they don’t have the imagination not to scrap the ship.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        I wish there was a away around that. Other nuclear powered ships have been preserved, like the Savannah and the Nautilus. But if it’s gonna take a BILLION and a half just to scrap her, imagine what it would cost to make her safe as a museum.

  • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

    1. Fill/surround nuclear reactors and spaces with concrete.
    2. Concrete should be impregnated with lead and boron chips up to 90 lbs per cy.
    3. Sink ex.

    • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

      Exactly

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    Sink it in the Atlantic at over 10000 feet and let it go. Water is a excellent absorber of nuclear particles, that deep is oxygen depleted so little decay and don’t worry about it. 1 billion? That is insane.

    • Rocco

      Maybe shot sink with her!!

    • tiger

      No….. Building DDG’s for a Billion is Insane.

  • RunningBear

    30 nuclear systems have been (recently/ on going) dismantled on the 688 boats, alone.

    – This (AGAIN!) is not rocket science. –

    Nearly 100 USN nuclear ship systems have been decommissioned over recent history. The rules and regulations cannot justifiably be exclusive for SSN/CGN vs. CVN systems.

    I’m understanding that any extra cost is unjustified and gouging of the taxpayer.
    Career retirement should not be the social plan for wasteful employees on this first nuclear aircraft carrier decommissioning.
    IMO
    🙁

    • vetww2

      You guessed it CORRECTLY.

  • Kypros

    I mean a a billion and a half!!!! Geeze! What would it cost to launch it into space!?

    • Apparently space launch costs are around $10k per pound, so at 100,000 tons, Enterprise should cost roughly $2 trillion to put into space (not including the cost to cut her up into 10-20 ton chunks that will fit onto the current generation of rockets). Of course, this would only put her remains into Earth orbit, not deep space or the sun.

  • RunningBear

    Your guesstimate for that percent of the 93K tons of carrier?
    🙂

  • Chesapeakeguy

    This is another valid reason to consider constructing conventionally powered carriers again.

    • Rocco

      Agreed!! Ain’t gonna happen unfortunately!

    • tiger

      Which means lots of Black gold/ Texas tea to ship around and burn.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Yep. Which is something the Navy does every day, and did for decades with their carriers.

        • tiger

          Not something we wish to continue for 50 years however. Green jobs & energy are the future says the last POTUS.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Maybe, but why then why are all other Navy ships except subs powered by fossil fuels? Why are all aviation assets powered by them? The Navy did just fine with non- nuclear powered carriers for a full generation. The Brits new carriers are oil fired. I guess that last POTUS didn’t get the memo! LOL…

          • Secundius

            Ironically President Donald Trump quipped during the Commissioning of the CVN-78, USS Gerald R. Ford the advantages of using “Clean Burning Coal”. Not knowing that the last Coal Fuel US Naval Ship was launched in 1914 (i.e. BB-35, USS Texas). And had her Coal Bunkers replaced in 1926 to use Fuel Oil instead…

          • Hugh

            I visited the Texas a few weeks ago.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            When did Trump do that? His speech is available on line, as is the written transcript. There is no mention of coal anywhere.

          • Secundius

            When he was being briefed by the African-American Female Petty Officer on the Operation of the EMALS system. He retorted his of using Coal to Fuel US Naval Ships…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Can you offer a link? I know this site doesn’t allow for copying and pasting them, but if you can spell it out, I will appreciate it. The only thing I can find concerning Trump mentioning coal in that time frame is a speech he gave in Phoenix a month after the Ford’s commissioning. If it gives an opportunity to ridicule Trump I would imagine that there would be a gazilion Internet sites with that on them, yet, I can find NONE! Thanks in advance..

          • Secundius

            Exactly how many African-American Female Petty Officer(s) “DID” Donald Trump speak too during the USS Gerald R. Ford commissioning date…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I have no idea. What I DO know is that there isn’t much in the way of links to that supposed story. Thus my asking YOU for a link.

          • W900A

            He was probably referring to coal derived liquid fuel. 2 companies in the US figured out how to make jet fuel and diesel from coal. Even if he wasn’t the concept is not outside of the realm of feasibility. If you can make a coal derived liquid fuel adequate for jet fuel, a marine diesel should be a piece of cake. Now that being said Nuclear is far more practical for very large ships like Aircraft Carriers. Now are Aircraft Carriers still truly viable.. that is a worthwhile discussion. Our acquisition costs and timelines are terrible. I was looking at South Korean and Japanese Navy capabilities the other day and other then CV/CVN, given the size and populations of those countries they are quite formidable. China could be a real problem if they choose to be and we don’t have carrier numbers to really reduce the risk. If we were building 2 billion $ carriers instead of 8 and had the air wings to support them and could have say 8-10 at sea in the Pacific at any time – not in yards and equivilant available for Atlantic and other service you need to have more like 20-24 CV/CVN ships.

          • Secundius

            In 2001, ~0.047% of the Population of the United States was in Military Service. As of January 2018, the number dropped below 0.01%. How are you going to Man Serve 20 to 24 Aircraft Carriers, when we the United States can barely Man Serve 11 in 2018…

          • W900A

            It isn’t that there aren’t enough people, it’s that congress needs to up the authorized manning. We have lots of people we push out over high year tenure that are good people, they just aren’t getting promoted. We have more admirals then we have ships. In the Royal Navy to get a pension you serve 30 years. I retired in 2010. I could still be serving just fine. I fly as a contractor moving people and parts to and from USN ships. I could be doing the same in uniform or could be on a staff. Look at our potential foes. China in particular could become very formidable in just a few years and with some luck. We need more people and more ships and maybe they don’t need to be entirely state of the art but need to be capable and proven. Why EMALS? Was steam not working? Why F-35’s when now days the ordnance is smart and does all the work. A modernized A-6 could carry a lot of modern ordnance, a long ways in bad weather and we should ought to be able to buy them new for 50m each. Our kids don’t feel like there is much calling or honor in serving and too many parents aren’t parenting or coddling them. Also multiple administrations play games with you have to recruit the right group of people to be PC, not necessarily the best and brightest and most capable sticking purely to merit rather then this social engineering baloney. We are in trouble.

          • Secundius

            In November 2017, the US Hse.of Rep. tried to introduce a New Draft Act into Congress. It DIED a Quick Death…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            That’s a good point. In the early 1940s, with a population of something like 140 million people, this country put over 15 million people into military uniforms. That’s not counting the government (Civil Service)apparatus devoted to the war effort, or industry. Today, with a population approximating 315 million, I seriously doubt that we could double our present militarty’s size personnel-wise in a pinch. A big part of that is because of the continuing assault on this country’s institutions within the political and educational systems, but the impact of that is still significant.

          • tiger

            Cylons…. We build a race of combat Andriods. What could go wrong? Lol 🤣

  • RunningBear

    Alarm!, Alarm!, un-educated tree huggers “Unite”!
    “Nukes United”, need not apply!
    Nothing new here, move along.

    This is a much used and proven military program of reducing nuclear submarines and cruisers to scrap. Even in our commercial/ industrial world, radiation contaminated materials are disposed of (per programs) on a regular basis.

    “once-upon-a-time” Certified Radiation Safety Officer
    😀 😀

    • publius_maximus_III

      Streaking Naked ex-CRSO: is there any difference between a rem and a millirem?

    • tiger

      If you call endless temp storage, disposal…… We need a long term store site.

      • W900A

        Yay thanks to Obama shutting down the Yucca Mountain program again we don’t have one.

  • NavySubNuke

    LOL. You can make up whatever lies you want about what I supposedly admitted and you can question my dolphins all you like old man I really could care less about the claims of an ignorant old fool like you.
    At the end of the day one of us is still proudly serving in the US Navy and the other is an ignorant old man who accuses anyone who disagrees with him of being a paid russian troll.
    You really are an entertaining piece of gutter trash though.

    • Rocco

      He is a landdill!!

  • Michael D. Woods

    Is this the Enterprise commanded by James T. Kirk or the one commanded by Jean-Luc Picard? Either way, just launch it into the sun. OK, it isn’t one of those. But the “sink it in the Marianas Trench” idea is a terrestrial equivalent.

    • Rocco

      Stupid comments!! It’s us taxpayers that have to pay for this!! & All the following carriers here on because they are all Nukes!!

      • Michael D. Woods

        It was intended to be stupid. Have you no sense of humor?

        • Rocco

          No not when I I have to pay ridiculous money!!

      • publius_maximus_III

        PRO: They only have to pull in to the gas pumps one time in their 50-year service life.

        CON: When it comes time to send them off to the junk yard, whoa baby. Can’t just pull the wheels off and put them up on blocks.

        • Rocco

          Agreed!! You can pay me now or pay me when I’m Dead!!

      • tiger

        Which is why step one is not where to scrap, but opening Yucca Mountain to storage of long tern waste.

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    Why not use it for target practice and just sink it?

    • tiger

      Uh, 8 nuc reactors and gear need to go.

  • publius_maximus_III

    How about a hybrid option, half Navy and half commercial, Plan C?

    First bring CVN-65 to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and pull all the hot stuff, shipped 200 miles in-state to the Hanford Nuclear Site for long-term storage until Yucca Mountain is available, if ever. Then tow the remaining hull to a commercial shipyard to be turned into razor blades. As for the squabbling bureaucrats in the NRC and DOE, let #45 wade in and make the swamp creatures play nice.

    • vetww2

      The reactors, in their present state, unrefueled, could be made into first class electric generators by just enclosing them in full spherical shielding. Ref. “Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.” Old Government report.

    • tiger

      Bingo!!! Before any step one, we need Yucca Mountain opened.

      • Secundius

        Yucca Mountain is in the process of being Reactivated. Approximately $120-Million USD has been Allocated to the Modernization of the Facility, by the US. Hse.of Rep. in May 2018 by a 340 to 72 Vote. It’s not known when the Modernization will be completed…

        • tiger

          Thank God, Harry Reid is gone!!!!!!! He has held this up for 20 years with Nimby.

  • Kypros

    Thanks!

  • grokme

    Tow it westward and let the North Koreans capture it.

  • vetww2

    WOW,
    I just wasted over an hour reading 5 minutes worth of real data. There were some facts like the hull could be extended in life if some piping, hull and shielding components which are slightly to heavily dangerous could be removed and replaced. I thought more study would be called for to not only refuel but completely replace the powerplant. The overall upgrade of the ship is not addressed, Items like an electric catapult. hydraulic track A/C handling and weaponizing are ignored. Nowhere is there a cogent analysis of why to decomission it, except calendar age. Maybe because I am 91 i’m too sesitive on that point.

    i