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This book identifies and evaluates options for the disposal of U.S. Navy and U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) ships. Four options are considered: long-term storage, domestic recycling, overseas recycling, and reefing (i.e., the sinking of ships to build artificial reefs). The authors examined the use of private and public U.S. shipyards, international organizations, and partnerships between U.S. and foreign companies. The study took applicable environmental and worker health and safety regulations into account to arrive at estimates of the costs, benefits, capacities, capabilities, feasibility, and risks associated with each option. It found that the Navy and MARAD should exploit the experience gained in the Navy's ongoing Ship Disposal Program and the recently initiated MARAD program to dispose of poor-condition ships in the inventory. Such a strategy would reduce the current risk of ship sinking or other notable environmental damage. At the same time, this study also found that both agencies should initiate coordinated discussions with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other coastal regulatory authorities to develop standards for reefing that will make it a viable, long-term option for disposing of as many of the 358 ships in the current inactive fleet as possible. The Navy and MARAD should not opt for overseas recycling; such a program would involve many impediments and difficulties. Neither should they opt for long-term storage, which entails high and uncertain costs and only defers, rather than solves, the problem of disposing of the ships.

This research was conducted within RAND's National Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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