Sad fate for a WW II hospital ship

I was in Baltimore, MD this evening picking up freight at the Locust
Point Marine terminal. Next to the office where we pick up our
paperwork is this HUGE ship tied up to the pier. I'm always
fascinated by ships, so when I had a chance I walked along side. I
thought it looked like a hospital ship. Yup, sure enough. It says
SANCTUARY USS NAVY HOSPITAL SHIP in big letters along the side.
Kind of a sad site, sitting there all by itself. No sounds of
machinery. No lights. Nothing. Just a cold windy night in Baltimore.
I looked up the history of the Sanctuary ... and it's even more sad
than I thought. She was built right at the end of WW II. Served for
a bit and then placed in reserve. She was modernized for Vietnam and
served there admirably for years. Then shuffled around for years
until ultimately sold for scrap. But then the EPA got involved and
halted the sale. Funny, I guess about a year ago the ship broke free
of it's moorings and went adrift in the Baltimore harbor !
So there she sits in limbo. Too bad she couldn't be turned into a
floating museum somewhere.
Here's info on the ship at Wiki
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can't even give them away. like the sad wanderings of the oriskany. (sp) i guess a artificial reef has honor.
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It's been a bone of contention for many years as it has no advocates with any money. The Merchant Marine veterans got behind the SS John W. Brown (one of two surviving "Liberty" ships) and did a great job on it, and Baltimore is home port to one of the two current Navy hospital ships, USNS Comfort. But the Sanctuary has had a rough go of it. They've tried to restore it (no money), use it as a homeless shelter (no money and no interest) and to restore it for drug treatment (no money and no interest.)
Understand that Maryland is a state where either items like this have a "Sugar Daddy" who will take them under their wing like the "Brown" or the Federal Government which steps in via the USPS to maintain them like Fort McHenry. If not, if you don't vote for the local politicians -- and ships and artifacts don't vote -- you're on your own.
Cookie Sewell
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=BDServed for
Thanks for your reply Cookie. Holy cow ... what a bureaucratic mess. I had no idea. Amazing ... I just thought it was a ship in reserve. I didn't know the history of the ship and it's current dilemma until I looked it up. Seems to me that if a company in Greece wants to move it there ... why wouldn't the EPA let it go ? They already paid for the ship AND the moving cost. I understand the environmental concerns with PCB's and asbestos and all ... but Jeez. Sounds to me like way too much political correctness going on here. Don't want to make the environmental wackos angry now do we.
Can you tell me what happened when the ship broke free of it's moorings last year ? Where did the ship drift off to ?
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It tried to escape and they hunted it down!!! I'm from MD too...I don't blame it!
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Not far, it apparently came to no ill end. The latest word here was the Greek sale offer but the EPA has been very suspicious as many ships sold to jobbers wind up on the coasts of India, run aground with guys breaking them up with sledgehammers and cutting torches and little concern for ecological problems like asbestos and heavy metals. I think they want the Greek government to vouchsafe that they will use it as a ship and not resell it on.
Cookie Sewell
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: : Not far, it apparently came to no ill end. The latest word here was : the Greek sale offer but the EPA has been very suspicious as many : ships sold to jobbers wind up on the coasts of India, : And a lovely hellhole that place is, too. Nearest hospital is over 1 hour away. The 'doctor' recommends the cutters 'cut upwind', so they don't breathe any nasties from former chemical carriers, or the residue in the fuel tanks. Yeah, right. Since nobody has any use for the absestos, it is simply ripped out and left lying about, blowing in the breeze, etc.
Ships are driven ashore (it is a huge tidal flat area) at high tide, and once beached, simply shut down and left to the 'care' of the breakers. So, why do people work there? It is work in a province that otherwise has little opportunity for work. : : I think they want the Greek government to vouchsafe that they will use : it as a ship and not resell it on. : So, what do you use an ex-hospital ship for, anyway? I assume she is steam powered, and that means lots of 'black gang' to service her, and conversion to diesel is not a really economical process. So, what do the Greeks want with her? Really?
I can understand the EPA/et. al. being skeptical of the Greek offer (beware Greeks bearing gifts!), especially if the purchase offer is less than the scrap value of the vessel.
It goes without saying that finding a ship breaker in the US or EU is nigh impossible, given the regulations, insurance, etc. There is one in Texas, that last made the headlines for scrapping the last remaining 'Bay' class CVE, most recently decommissioned from the Spanish Navy. An attempt was made to save that vessel as a museum ship tanked.
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Bruce Burden
g a ship breaker in the
The last one they fully scrapped here in Baltimore was the USS Coral Sea and it took over five years. First off they had to make it acceptable to the EPA so out come all of the heavy metals, PCBs, and asbestos, and then they had to comply with all kinds of regulations. I think the company said they barely broke even in the end, and then got fined as somebody found some practice bombs and dumped them in the Patapsco River. They came in to recover them and when it was discovered they were dummies did nothing, but company was fined for not acting promptly up front.
One more reason there are "Ghost Fleets" on the James River and in Washington...
Cookie Sewell
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