This is a local story gaining national attention… and rightly so:
They are the two ships no one wanted, almost constantly embroiled in one dispute or another for the past 25 years. The two Navy behemoths have never gone on a mission, were never even completed, yet they cost taxpayers at least $300 million.
Now the vessels, the Benjamin Isherwood and the Henry Eckford, are destined to leave Virginia waters for good and be scrapped at a Texas salvage yard, with no money coming back to the U.S. Treasury.
The Isherwood, stretching more than 660 feet, began its final journey this week, unceremoniously towed Tuesday from its mooring spot in the James River Reserve Fleet, also known as the “ghost fleet,” near Fort Eus-tis in Newport News.
Its destination: International Shipbreaking Limited in Brownsville, Texas, just above the Mexico border. There, the vessel will be cut up, its innards removed and disposed of, and its steel and other metals sold as recycled products.
The Eckford, of equal size, is scheduled to follow next Tuesday, leaving behind fewer than 20 junk ships in the ghost fleet, the smallest number since its inception during World War I.
Once the two Navy oilers have departed, “it will close one of the saddest chapters in American shipbuilding and for that matter, federal fiduciary folly,” wrote Joseph Keefe, a global maritime commentator, this week on the website MaritimeProfessional.com.
You know… I’m somehow reminded of the stimulus bill… where tons of money was spent with lofty ideas as to how it would be used and how there’d be a benefit and yet, in the end, we have nothing to show for it… in fact, in the end, we’re simply in a hole as to monies spent and benefits derived. There ought to be an accounting… for this shipbuilding debacle certainly… but for the boondoggle that was the stimulus bill more importantly. This shipbuilding story may indeed be a local example of federal fiduciary folly but it pales in comparison to the folly that was foisted on America by Obama, Pelosi, Reid and their minions with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Bring on 2012 so that amends can be made and accountability applied.