Battle Creek, Mich., March 5, 2020 —
The Navy has partnered with Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services on Puget Sound scrap removal that could potentially save millions in coming years.
For three decades, Washington’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility has produced an average 16 million pounds of scrap annually, according to Thomas McPike, the shipyard’s Ships Recycling Off-Hull assistant project superintendent. The bulk of that came from demilitarization and deconstruction of eight nuclear surface ships, more than 120 nuclear submarines and shipyard facilities. McPike said an average submarine recycling effort takes a year and typically involves cutting a vessel into pieces loaded onto trucks or railcars.
“This required a lot of personnel, indoor processing facilities - we are no longer allowed to use propane/acetylene torches to cut the big pieces into little pieces without capturing the smoke - and in-yard transportation,” McPike said, noting that the effort was labor intensive, with a lot of personnel touch points that could steer resources away from active vessel maintenance. “The shipyard’s focus is upgrading and maintaining the current active Navy fleet.”
Enter DLA Disposition Services, whose entire focus is on offering property disposal solutions that allow the armed services to focus on lethality. As DOD’s resident expert in demilitarization, Disposition Services offers Demilitarization as Condition Of Sale (DCoS) contracts with commercial scrap vendors around the globe that enable it to efficiently rid military customers of their on-site demilitarization-required property and bypass the man hours, equipment and training needed for meeting stringent demilitarization regulations.
“The cost to downsize submarines and structures manually without using the DCoS program would entail a ‘level of effort’ cost of at least $3.3 million and higher per barge,” said Capt. Mark Harris, the director of supply and logistics at the shipyard. “Submarine recycling is a very involved process where the entire submarine is reduced from an operational vessel to salvageable pieces. It is manually intensive labor, involving the use of heavy tools and equipment to break apart the submarine and large structures both internally and externally.”
The contract initially calls for barge transport of about nine million pounds of nuclear submarine pieces and shipyard facilities scrap to a firm in Tacoma where DLA personnel provide oversight of any required demilitarization. If the contractor, shipyard and DLA agree that the performance level has met collective expectations, there are options for adding on additional years of support.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that this is going to go flawlessly,” said DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon, who traveled to the installation in February for a firsthand look at scrap generation progress there and said the Navy leadership he visited with seemed ‘ecstatic’ at the service they were receiving through the barge removal concept.
“It’s allowing them to free up space, save valuable human resources and put their people to work on craftsman- and artisan-level projects instead of spending time managing oversized pieces of scrap or finding ways to cut them small enough fit into a truck,” Cannon said. “They feel they’re going to save millions for work they would have paid employees to do – work that our DCoS contractor will now do, but is also going to be paying us for the privilege of doing, based on the scrap they’ve generated. … For now, the Navy seems to be extremely satisfied with our operation, partnership and level of support.”