News | Jan. 4, 2016

DLA Disposition Services scraps decommissioned ship

By Jake Joy, Disposition Services

A chapter in Navy and DLA Disposition Services history is ending in a trench dug off New Orleans’ Industrial Canal, less than three miles from the French Quarter.

The remains of the destroyer USS Forrest Sherman litter the sides of the trench, and in mid-December only its half-submerged props and propeller shafts remained in the water. The ship had on June 2 reached New Orleans, where a DLA scrap contractor began tearing the 418-foot, 4,600-ton vessel to pieces. The scrap metal will be sold at auction, with the proceeds returned to the U.S. taxpayers.

Commissioned in 1955, the Forrest Sherman was the namesake lead ship of the first post-WWII destroyer class. She sailed for 30 years before DoD sold her as scrap to a North Carolina firm in the 1990s. That company went bankrupt before it could destroy the vessel, and the U.S. Navy reacquired her. The service prepared to sink the destroyer during an exercise in 2001, but the ship got a stay of execution when a non-profit group petitioned Naval Sea Systems Command for permission to bring the Forrest Sherman to Delaware for use as a floating museum.

But the group’s financing fell through, so in 2011 the ship was removed from museum hold. Before the vessel hit the scrap-auction block yet again, Naval History and Heritage Command personnel boarded her and pulled key items to use in rebuilding the bridge of a Cold War-era ship.

The Forrest Sherman is the first ship scrapped through a DLA contract since the late 1990s. Nine Forrest Sherman-class ships are at the bottom of the sea, and three made the transition to museum status (including the ex-USS Barry, a display ship at the Washington Navy Yard that will also soon be destroyed). Out of all 18 in the class, the Forrest Sherman was the first built and the last to have its ultimate fate decided.