CSTR Working to Save Ships to Reefs in the U.S.
California Ships to Reefs (CSTR) is the successor organization to that which reefed Yukon. We are currently seeking, because no U.S. ships are available, HMCS Annapolis, to be reefed in the San Diego Underwater Recreation Area (SDURA) near Yukon. It is ironic that the last military vessel reefed in California waters, and very likely the next to be reefed here, served a foreign nation, albeit one of our allies.
In 2012, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) changed its policy which discontinued the donation of ships for reefing off the Nation’s coasts. The reason given for this policy change, which was done with no public notice and no hearings of any kind, was that vessels built prior to 1985 contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
CSTR has recently become aware that the Ticonderoga class of missile cruisers may soon be decommissioned. The “flight 2” ships of this class were built after 1985 without PCBs and are powered by gas turbine (jet) engines, eliminating the vast majority of toxic concerns occasioned by black oil or diesel power plants. There are 19 flight 2 ships, with five (5) currently home ported in San Diego. They are:
USS Lake Champlain CG 57 USS Princeton CG 59
USS Chancellorsville CG 62 USS Cowpens CG 63
USS Cape St. George CG 71
While we understand there is a movement in Congress to upgrade these vessels, it is a distinct possibility that one or more, perhaps all five, could be decommissioned sooner rather than later. Regardless of their decommissioning date, they will be among the first U.S .Navy combat vessels built after the PCB era to be decommissioned. Because they are home ported in California, in close proximity to the majority of suitable reefing sites, expenses for relocation would be minimal. Because they are free of the toxic materials of most concern, cleaning them to the standards contained in the EPA’s National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs, which CalEPA has also accepted as the controlling document for ship cleaning, would be easier and less expensive than for other vessels. CSTR is prepared to raise the necessary funds to accomplish these activities, as well as the diverization and actual sinking event(s) for the vessel(s).
Reefed military vessels become thriving habitats augmenting and/or replacing stressed or destroyed natural reefs and, because of their robust construction, can last 100 years or more. They also become important SCUBA diving and fishing tourism attractions, bringing millions of dollars into the port areas near where they are located. HMCS Yukon, successfully reefed in the San Diego Underwater Recreational Area (SDURA) in the year 2000, brings in $6.7 Million dollars annually to the San Diego economy. These tourism dollars translate into additional badly needed tax revenue for the local, state and federal governments. Reefed military vessels also serve as living monuments and memorials to the crews that served in them, and arrangements can be made for the interment of crew members (and their families, if desired) aboard their ships. The vast majority of crew members would prefer that their ships continue to serve as reefs, rather than see them turned into “rebar and razor blades” by scrappers.
Economic and Ecological Studies
CSTR has located and preliminarily surveyed sites (pictured at right, click for a larger version) off San Diego, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica Bay (2), Catalina, Port San Luis and Morro Bay which would be suitable for one or more of the Ticonderoga flight 2 class ships.
CSTR asks all its members, supporters and the general public to write your U.S. Representatives and Senators, along with the California contingent of the House Armed Services Committee telling them to make these changes to U.S. Navy, MARAD and U.S. Coast Guard policies:
1) When the decision is made to decommission and dispose of the Ticonderoga Flight IIs, we want their reefing to be considered equally with scrapping as a method of disposal, as the law mandates, and
2) We want reefing organizations, whether state agencies or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to have a seat at the table for those discussions.
See the links to Congress and a sample letter for your use. We encourage you to put this sample letter into your own words.
To Reef or To Scrap - CSTR Presentation
Marina Del Rey
Port San Luis