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Ship-Submarine Recycling Program

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ship/Submarine Recycling Program (SRP) is the process that the United States Navy uses to dispose of decommissioned nuclear vessels. SRP takes place only at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) in Bremerton, Washington, but the preparations can begin elsewhere.

Program overview

In this image, the superstructure of Virginia has been replaced with containment structures to remove nuclear fuel before entering SRP.
In this image, the superstructure of Virginia has been replaced with containment structures to remove nuclear fuel before entering SRP.

Defueling and decommissioning

Before SRP can begin, the vessel's nuclear fuel must be removed, and defueling usually coincides with decommissioning. Until the fuel is removed, the vessel is referred to as "USS Name," but afterward the "USS" is dropped and it is referred to as "ex-Name." Reusable equipment is removed at the same time as the fuel.[citation needed]

Spent fuel storage

Spent nuclear fuel is shipped by rail to the Naval Reactor Facility in the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), located 42 miles (68 km) northwest of Idaho Falls, Idaho, where it is stored in special canisters.[1]

Hull salvage

At PSNS the SRP proper begins. The salvage workers cut the submarine into three or four pieces: the aft section, the reactor compartment, the missile compartment if one exists, and the forward section. Missile compartments are dismantled according to the provisions of the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty.

Until 1991, the forward and aft sections of the submarines were rejoined and placed in floating storage. Various proposals for disposal of those hulls were considered, including sinking them at sea, but none proved economically practical. Some submarines built prior to the 1978 banning of polychlorinated biphenyl products (PCBs) had the chemicals on board, which are considered hazardous materials by the Environmental Protection Agency and United States Coast Guard, requiring their removal. Since then, and to help reduce costs, the remaining submarine sections are recycled, returning reusable materials to production. In the process of submarine recycling, all hazardous and toxic wastes are identified and removed, reusable equipment is removed and put into inventory. Scrap metals and all other materials are sold to private companies or reused. The overall process is not profitable, but does provide some cost relief.[2] Disposal of submarines by the SRP costs the Navy US$25–50 million per submarine.[citation needed]

Reactor vessel disposal

Once the de-fueled reactor compartment is removed, it is sealed at both ends and shipped by barge and multiple-wheel high-capacity trailers to the Department of Energy's Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, where they are currently, as of 2016, kept in open dry storage[3] and slated to be eventually buried.[4][5] Russian submarine reactor compartments are stored in similar fashion near Murmansk.[6][7]The burial trenches have been evaluated to be secure for at least 600 years before the first pinhole penetration of some lead containment areas of the reactor compartment packages occurs, and several thousand years before leakage becomes possible.[8]

Prior disposal methods

In 1959 the US Navy removed a nuclear reactor from the submarine USS Seawolf and replaced it with a new type. The removed reactor was scuttled in the Atlantic Ocean, 200 km (108 nmi) east of Delaware, at a depth of 2,700 m (8,858 ft).[9] In 1972, the London Dumping Convention restricted ocean disposal of radioactive waste and in 1993, ocean disposal of radioactive waste was completely banned. The US Navy began a study on scrapping nuclear submarines; two years later shallow land burial of reactor compartments was selected as the most suitable option.

In 1990, USS Scamp was the first US nuclear-powered submarine to be scrapped.[10]

Future salvage work

By the end of 2005, 195 nuclear submarines had been ordered or built in the US (including the NR-1 Deep Submergence Craft and Virginia, but none of the later Virginia class). The last of the regular Sturgeon attack boats, L. Mendel Rivers, was decommissioned in 2001, and Parche, a highly modified Sturgeon, was decommissioned in 2004. The last of the initial "41 for Freedom" fleet ballistic missile (FBM) submarines, Kamehameha, was decommissioned in 2002. Decommissioning of the Los Angeles boats began in 1995 with Baton Rouge. Additionally, a handful of nuclear-powered cruisers have entered the program, and their dismantling is ongoing. The first aircraft carrier due for decommissioning that would enter the SRP is planned to be Enterprise, which was withdrawn in 2013.[11][12] Unlike the disposal of other nuclear powered surface ships, all of which have been recycled at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, the Navy is looking at other, commercial or private sector options for Enterprise in an effort to reduce both the cost of the work and the time taken to dismantle such a large vessel, as well as negating the difficulty of towing the hulk all the way from Newport News, where it is stored, to Puget Sound.[13]

In December 2020, it was announced that a further nine Los Angeles-class attack submarines, two Ohio class guided missile submarines, and the aircraft carrier Nimitz would be decommissioned and enter the recycling program by 2026.[14] Hulls waiting or already processed by the recycling program are listed below.

Lists of vessels by type

Aircraft carriers

Ship name (Hull number) Start date Completion date
ex-Enterprise (CVN-65) 3 February 2017

As of February 2021 Enterprise remains stored at Hampton Roads until final disposition plans are decided on by the US Navy.


Ship name (Hull number) Start date Completion date
ex-Long Beach (CGN-9) 1 May 2009[15] Incomplete (note)
ex-Bainbridge (CGN/DLGN-25) 1 October 1997 30 October 1999
ex-Truxtun (CGN/DLGN-35) 1 October 1997 28 April 1999
ex-California (CGN/DLGN-36) 1 October 1998 12 May 2000
ex-South Carolina (CGN/DLGN-37) 1 October 2007[16] 10 May 2010 †
ex-Virginia (CGN-38) 1 October 1999 25 September 2002
ex-Texas (CGN-39) 1 October 1999 30 October 2001
ex-Mississippi (CGN-40) 1 October 2004[15] 5 December 2006[15]
ex-Arkansas (CGN-41) 7 July 1998 1 November 1999

† A dagger after a completion date indicates that portions of the hull were preserved as memorials. See the individual articles for details.

(note) ex-Long Beach has been partially dismantled and remains moored in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in 2018.

Attack submarines

Some of these submarines (the George Washington class) were fleet ballistic missile boats for the vast majority of their careers. However, they were briefly converted to SSNs before decommissioning and arrival at PSNS, and so are listed under that designation here.

Ship name (Hull number) Start date Completion date/status
ex-Seawolf (SSN-575) 1 October 1996 30 September 1997
ex-Skate (SSN-578) 14 April 1994 6 March 1995
ex-Swordfish (SSN-579) Unknown 11 September 1995
ex-Sargo (SSN-583) 14 April 1994 5 April 1995
ex-Seadragon (SSN-584) 1 October 1994 18 September 1995
ex-Skipjack (SSN-585) 17 March 1996 1 September 1998
ex-Triton (SSRN-586) 1 October 2007[15] 30 November 2009[17]
ex-Halibut (SSGN-587) 12 July 1993 9 September 1994
ex-Scamp (SSN-588) 1990 9 September 1994 (the first)
ex-Sculpin (SSN-590) 1 October 2000 30 October 2001
ex-Shark (SSN-591) 1 October 1995 28 June 1996
ex-Snook (SSN-592) 1 October 1996 30 June 1997
ex-Permit (SSN-594) 30 September 1991 20 May 1993
ex-Plunger (SSN-595) 5 January 1995 8 March 1996
ex-Barb (SSN-596) Unknown 14 March 1996
ex-Tullibee (SSN-597) 5 January 1995 1 April 1996
ex-George Washington (SSBN/SSN-598) Unknown 30 September 1998†
ex-Patrick Henry (SSBN/SSN-599) 1 October 1996 31 August 1997
ex-Robert E. Lee (SSBN/SSN-601) Unknown 30 September 1991
ex-Pollack (SSN-603) 9 February 1993 17 February 1995
ex-Haddo (SSN-604) Unknown 30 June 1992
ex-Jack (SSN-605) Unknown 30 June 1992
ex-Tinosa (SSN-606) 15 July 1991 26 June 1992
ex-Dace (SSN-607) Unknown 1 January 1997
ex-Ethan Allen (SSBN/SSN-608) Unknown 30 July 1999
ex-Sam Houston (SSBN/SSN-609) 1 March 1991 3 February 1992
ex-Thomas A. Edison (SSBN/SSN-610) 1 October 1996 1 December 1997
ex-John Marshall (SSBN/SSN-611) 22 July 1992 29 March 1993
ex-Guardfish (SSN-612) Unknown 9 July 1992
ex-Flasher (SSN-613) Unknown 11 May 1994
ex-Greenling (SSN-614) 30 September 1993 18 April 1994
ex-Gato (SSN-615) Unknown 1 November 1996
ex-Haddock (SSN-621) 1 October 2000 1 October 2001
ex-Sturgeon (SSN-637) Unknown 11 December 1995 †
ex-Whale (SSN-638) 20 October 1995 1 July 1996
ex-Tautog (SSN-639) 15 March 2003[15] 30 September 2004[15]
ex-Kamehameha (SSBN/SSN-642) 1 October 2001 28 February 2003
ex-James K. Polk (SSBN/SSN-645) 16 February 1999 15 July 2000
ex-Grayling (SSN-646) 18 July 1997 31 March 1998
ex-Pogy (SSN-647) 4 January 1999 12 April 2000
ex-Aspro (SSN-648) 1 October 1999 3 November 2000
ex-Sunfish (SSN-649) Unknown 31 October 1997
ex-Pargo (SSN-650) 1 October 1994 15 October 1996
ex-Queenfish (SSN-651) 1 May 1992 7 April 1993
ex-Puffer (SSN-652) 20 October 1995 12 July 1996
ex-Ray (SSN-653) 15 March 2002 30 July 2003
ex-Sand Lance (SSN-660) 1 April 1998 30 August 1999
ex-Lapon (SSN-661) 15 March 2003[15] 30 November 2004[15]
ex-Gurnard (SSN-662) Unknown 15 October 1996
ex-Hammerhead (SSN-663) Unknown 22 November 1995
ex-Sea Devil (SSN-664) 1 March 1998 7 September 1999
ex-Guitarro (SSN-665) Unknown 18 October 1994
ex-Hawkbill (SSN-666) 1 October 1999 1 December 2000 †
ex-Bergall (SSN-667) Unknown 29 September 1997
Ship name (Hull number) Start date Completion date/status
ex-Spadefish (SSN-668) 1 October 1996 24 October 1997
ex-Seahorse (SSN-669) 1 March 1995 30 September 1996
ex-Finback (SSN-670) Unknown 30 October 1997
ex-Narwhal (SSN-671) 1 October 2001 (museum plans failed; see article)
ex-Pintado (SSN-672) 1 October 1997 27 October 1998
ex-Flying Fish (SSN-673) Unknown 15 October 1996
ex-Trepang (SSN-674) 4 January 1999 7 April 2000
ex-Bluefish (SSN-675) 15 March 2002 1 November 2003
ex-Billfish (SSN-676) Unknown 26 April 2000
ex-Drum (SSN-677) 1 December 2008[16] 20 May 2010
ex-Archerfish (SSN-678) Unknown 6 November 1998
ex-Silversides (SSN-679) 1 October 2000 1 October 2001
ex-William H. Bates (SSN-680) 1 October 2002 30 October 2002
ex-Batfish (SSN-681) Unknown 22 November 2002
ex-Tunny (SSN-682) 1 October 1997 27 October 1998
ex-Parche (SSN-683) 30 September 2004‡[15] 30 November 2006[16]
ex-Cavalla (SSN-684) 1 October 1999 16 November 2000
ex-Glenard P. Lipscomb (SSN-685) Unknown 1 December 1997
ex-L. Mendel Rivers (SSN-686) 29 November 2000 19 July 2002
ex-Richard B. Russell (SSN-687) 1 October 2001 19 September 2002
ex-Los Angeles (SSN-688) February 2011[16] 5 March 2013
ex-Baton Rouge (SSN-689) 13 January 1995 30 September 1997
ex-Philadelphia (SSN-690) 1 September 2019[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Memphis (SSN-691) 14 December 2010[15] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Omaha (SSN-692) 1 October 2009[16] 7 November 2011
ex-Cincinnati (SSN-693) 1 October 2009[16] 22 September 2014[19]
ex-Groton (SSN-694) 1 June 2012[16] 5 May 2014
ex-Birmingham (SSN-695) 1 June 2012[16] 23 September 2015[20]
ex-New York City (SSN-696) 1 June 2011[16] Decommissioned 30 April 1997
ex-Indianapolis (SSN-697) 1 October 2013[16] Recycling begun[18]
ex-Bremerton (SSN-698) 13 February 2014[16] Still operational as of 23 May 2017
ex-Jacksonville (SSN-699) 31 March 2014[16] Still operational as of 23 May 2017
ex-Dallas (SSN-700) 22 May 2017 [18] Arrived PSNS 22 May 2017
ex-La Jolla (SSN-701) refit (training vessel) n/a
ex-Phoenix (SSN-702) 1 June 2013[16] 20 September 2016[21]
ex-Boston (SSN-703) 1 October 2001 19 September 2002 †
ex-Baltimore (SSN-704) 1 June 2013[16] Decommissioned 10 July 1998
ex-City of Corpus Christi (SSN-705) 24 November 2015[16] Being de-fueled/inactivated[18]
ex-Albuquerque (SSN-706) 14 April 2016[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Portsmouth (SSN-707) 1 June 2015[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN-708) 1 June 2018[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709) 30 September 2016[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Augusta (SSN-710) 1 September 2019[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-San Francisco (SSN-711) refit (training vessel) n/a
ex-Atlanta (SSN-712) 1 October 2013[16] Recycling begun[18]
ex-Houston (SSN-713) 21 September 2015[16] Being de-fueled/inactivated[18]
ex-Norfolk (SSN-714) 11 December 2014[22][23] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Buffalo (SSN-715) 26 May 2017 [24] Arrived PSNS 26 May 2017
ex-Salt Lake City (SSN-716) 30 September 2015[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
ex-Honolulu (SSN-718) 1 November 2006[16] 20 October 2008
ex-Miami (SSN-755) 28 March 2014[16] De-fueled, inactivated[18]
Ship name (Hull number) Start date Completion date/status

† A dagger after a completion date indicates that portions of the hull were preserved as memorials. See the individual articles for details.

‡ Date given for ex-Parche is official date used to secure FY2004 funding; work did not begin until 19 October.[15]

La Jolla (SSN-701) is currently undergoing conversion to a moored training ship at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. San Francisco (SSN-711) will be converted after decommissioning.

Ballistic missile submarines

Some of these submarines (the Lafayette class) were fleet ballistic missile boats for the vast majority of their careers. However, they were converted to SSNs for use as moored training platforms and are not currently scheduled for recycling.

Ship name (Hull number) Start date Completion date
See Attack Submarines – (SSBN/SSN-598) n/a n/a
See Attack Submarines – (SSBN/SSN-599) n/a n/a
ex-Theodore Roosevelt (SSBN-600) unknown 24 March 1995
See Attack Submarines – (SSBN/SSN-601) n/a n/a
ex-Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602) unknown 5 May 1994
See Attack Submarines – (SSBN/SSN-608) n/a n/a
See Attack Submarines – (SSBN/SSN-609) n/a n/a
See Attack Submarines – (SSBN/SSN-610) n/a n/a
See Attack Submarines – (SSBN/SSN-611) n/a n/a
ex-Lafayette (SSBN-616) 1 March 1991 25 February 1992
ex-Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617) 23 February 1993 28 February 1994
ex-Thomas Jefferson (SSBN-618) 1 October 1996 6 March 1998†
ex-Andrew Jackson (SSBN-619) unknown 30 August 1999
ex-John Adams (SSBN-620) unknown 12 February 1996
ex-James Monroe (SSBN-622) unknown 10 January 1995
ex-Nathan Hale (SSBN-623) 2 October 1991 5 April 1995
ex-Woodrow Wilson (SSBN-624) 26 September 1997 27 October 1998†
ex-Henry Clay (SSBN-625) unknown 30 September 1997
ex-Daniel Webster (MTS-626) refit (training vessel) n/a
ex-James Madison (SSBN-627) unknown 24 October 1997
ex-Tecumseh (SSBN-628) 15 February 1993 1 April 1994
ex-Daniel Boone (SSBN-629) unknown 4 November 1994
ex-John C. Calhoun (SSBN-630) unknown 18 November 1994
ex-Ulysses S. Grant (SSBN-631) unknown 23 October 1993
ex-Von Steuben (SSBN-632) 1 October 2000 30 October 2001
ex-Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633) unknown 21 October 1994
ex-Stonewall Jackson (SSBN-634) unknown 13 October 1995
ex-Sam Rayburn (MTS-635) refit (training vessel) n/a
ex-Nathanael Greene (SSBN-636) 1 September 1998 20 October 2000
ex-Benjamin Franklin (SSBN-640) unknown 21 August 1995
ex-Simon Bolivar (SSBN-641) 1 October 1994 1 December 1995
ex-George Bancroft (SSBN-643) unknown 30 March 1998†
ex-Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644) 1 October 1995 23 September 1996
ex-George C. Marshall (SSBN-654) unknown 28 February 1994
ex-Henry L. Stimson (SSBN-655) unknown 12 August 1994
ex-George Washington Carver (SSBN-656) unknown 21 March 1994
ex-Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) unknown 1 September 1995
ex-Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN-658) 1 October 1994 22 December 1995
ex-Will Rogers (SSBN-659) 12 April 1993 12 August 1994

† A dagger after a completion date indicates that portions of the hull were preserved as memorials. See the individual articles for details.

Because the program is underway, this list is almost certainly incomplete.[25]

Note for ships marked with refit: Sam Rayburn (SSBN-635) was converted into a training platform – Moored Training Ship (MTS-635). Sam Rayburn arrived for conversion on 1 February 1986, and on 29 July 1989 the first moored training ship achieved initial criticality. Modifications included special mooring arrangements including a mechanism to absorb power generated by the main propulsion shaft. Daniel Webster (SSBN-626) was converted to the second Moored Training Ship (MTS-2 / MTS-626) in 1993. The Moored Training Ship Site is located at Naval Weapons Station Charleston in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Sam Rayburn is scheduled to operate as an MTS until 2014 while undergoing shipyard availabilities at four-year intervals.


  1. ^ "End Points for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States". National Academies Press. 2003-06-01. Retrieved 2013-02-11.
  2. ^ Anatoli Diakov, Vadim Korobov and Eugene Miasnikov (1992-10-24). "Nuclear Powered Submarine Inactivation and Disposal in the U.S. and Russia: A Comparative Analysis". Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Retrieved 2013-02-09.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Submarine reactor compartments at Hanford". Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  4. ^ "Trimming the Submarine Fleet".
  5. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps, Hanford, Washington.
  6. ^ Nilsen, Thomas. "Last three reactor compartments soon off the water". The Barents Observer. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Sayda, Murmansk Oblast, Russia". Google Maps.
  8. ^ "Dismantling Nuclear Submarines". U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project. Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  9. ^ Kopte, Susanne (August 1997). Nuclear Submarine Decommissioning and Related Problems (PDF). paper 12. Bonn International Center for Conversion. Retrieved 4 Jul 2020.
  10. ^ "Submarine Centennial Chronology". Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
  11. ^ "Nuclear fuel from Enterprise headed for Idaho". Navy Times. Retrieved 2013-02-11.
  12. ^ "Draft Environmental Assessment on the Disposal of Decommissioned, Defueled, Naval  Reactor Plants from USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), September 2011". Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  13. ^ Lessig, Hugh (June 11, 2019). "Navy looking at commercial options for 'Big E' disposal". Daily Press. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  14. ^ Burgess, Richard. "Navy Plans to Retire 48 Ships During 2022-2026". SeaPower. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Morison, Samuel Loring (December 2006). "U.S. Naval Battle Force Changes". Proceedings of the Naval Institute. 132 (12): 59–60. ISSN 0041-798X.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Morison, Samuel Loring (May 2007). "U.S. Naval Battle Force Changes". Proceedings of the Naval Institute. 133 (5): 111. ISSN 0041-798X.
  17. ^ Morison, Samuel Loring (May 2010). "U.S. Naval Battle Force Changes 1 January 2009 – 31 December 2009". United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 135 (5): 112. 0041-798X.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "USS Dallas completing 36-year-run in Bremerton".
  19. ^ "USS Cincinnati reactor compartment comes to Hanford".
  20. ^ "Defense Logistics Agency > News > Images".
  21. ^ "A nuclear sub in the desert? Parts of the USS Phoenix await permanent home".
  22. ^ "Navy Swaps Dallas, Norfolk Inactivation Dates". US Navy News Service. May 30, 2014.
  23. ^ Copeland, Kevin (11 December 2014). "USS Norfolk Decommissioned". US Navy News Service.
  24. ^ "Submarine USS Buffalo Arrives in Washington for Decommissioning".
  25. ^ "Ships, Both Coasts, Disposed". Retrieved 2013-02-09.
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