image by Ingrid TaylarWhen I moved to the Bay Area for the second time in 2000 and came over the Benicia Bridge, I was struck by the sight of giant ships lined up in a row in the bay. I wondered what that was all about. Come to find out, the area is the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, one of three such sites maintained by the Maritime Administration. The 57 ships in the fleet at Suisun Bay are obsolete World War II-era ships that are rotting away and creating environmental and public health issues.
Luckily, the Obama administration decided to clean up the area and remove the ships for recycling. This process began in October, and according to an email I got from Barbara Boxer this week, an agreement was reached between the Maritime Association and state water regulators to speed up removal of the ships. The 20 most degraded ships will be removed by September 2012, and the rest will be out by 2017.
According to the Maritime Administration, the ships will be cleaned of loose paint and invasive species before they are towed down through the Panama Canal and to recycling facilities on the Gulf Coast and East Coast. It's too bad these rotting ships have to make a journey through the fragile ocean waters before they're disposed of, but at least they are finally being dealt with.