Scrapping Navy Ships

Looks like the Navy is scrapping a lot more ships recently. If you follow the instagram njshipspotter, he was posting old frigates being taken to scrappers in Brownsville TX. Now it is on to the cruisers…

Just looks like the speed at which they are scrapping is picking up.


Hauled more than a few ships to Brownsville, all were MSC, the “Grey Fleet” or ex-Navy ships.

From the hulks I’ve seen in Suisun Bay and Beaumont while doing hydrographic surveys of their basins for the COE, most were so ancient looking they didn’t appear to be worthwhile candidates for activation


Most of those tows were from James River fleet. Not salvagable. One that sticks out is the"Betelgeuse" which broke loose on a tow in bad weather and landed on OBX. You may find some old post cards from that event. We grabbed it and took it to Brownsville. Not sure whether it was a Liberty or Victory ship. It fought us all the way to Texas. Was not an easy tow from the start. The mosquitos in Texas were bigger than turkeys.


The Betelgeuse (AK 260) was a Victory ship.

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At some point, MARAD and the navy have to own up to their recommendations of replace, remove, or recapitalize their ships. I think it is good they finally get rid of them and the cost to stack them.

A little sad to see the Cape Gibson getting towed to the breakers. Having worked GoM since graduating, I still remember that view out of the bridge while it was parked in Galveston. The hull plating at midships was ridiculously thick, and she had pretty lines compared to modern ships. The officers mess was cool with all the wood work, and the passenger deck was a trip.

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Thanks for the picture, hadn’t seen that one before. I was an AB at the time. One of the locals ran a line to it, put up a little flag and claimed salvage in true OBX pirate history. Took a while to not only settle his/their claim, but get some big (At the time) Moran tugs to pull her off the beach. This picture shows how close the bridles were, impossible to keep her behind us in anything but stellar weather, even then she just wouldn’t stay behind us. Towed her with a Fairbanks Morse 2200 HP direct reversible tug named “Sea Eagle” with a 10 inch nylon hawser. No auto pilot or gyro and single screw with a Kort nozzle. Helluva trip.


I know most go to Brownsville now but some of them go to New Orleans for scrapping. CG Thomas Gates and several frigates have been broken in NOLA the past few years.

I’ve been on several tows to the breakers. The most heart wrenching was actually seeing how fast 25 guys with 12 ft cutting torches could demolish a Victory hull. Back in '83 or so. we tandem towed the APA NAPA and the SEATRAIN GEORGA from James River to Brownsville. We were secured at 1700. The next day we departed at 0900. The only thing left of the NAPA was the double bottoms.

if you use Google Earth (the app), you can hover over the JRRF or Suisun Bay and use the time machine to go back and see how much those respective fleets have shrunk over the years.

I remember driving past Suisun Bay and just marveling at the size of the fleet in the late 60s/early 70s. If only I realized the history that I was seeing at the time. . . .

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A FFG was pulled out of the Philly reserve basin last week, Smith’s Miss Rui was lead tug. Another one off to Brownsville.

I was on at least 5-6 dead ship tows out of the James River Fleet and 2 out of Suisun Bay, all bound for Brownsville. And the Westward Venture (a sister to the El Faro) from Baltimore to B’ville.

When I first started out on tugs in 2003-4 the James River Fleet spanned both sides of the river and had at least 30 ships, I think its down to about a half dozen.

Shoulda seen it in 1974 !