Foss tug to tow aircraft carrier to Texas for dismantling

The oceangoing tug Corbin Foss is preparing for an especially challenging journey expected to start at the end of the month.

The 150’x40’x20’ vessel on its first trip through the Straits of Magellan will tow the USS Constellation 16,000 nautical miles from Bremerton, Wash., to breakers in Brownsville, Texas.

Powered by two ALCO 16-251F diesels that produce 4,100 hp each at 900 rpm, the tug will make the140-day trip moving the 61,000-dwt tow at about 6 knots, said Drew Arenth, Foss Maritime’s manager of business development and planning. A sister tug, the Lauren Foss, earlier this year brought the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal from Philadelphia to All Star Metals in Brownsville.

Arenth said the Constellation trip was “an exciting opportunity for us” and perceived as an honor especially since a lot of Foss’ crews have military backgrounds. The Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier was commissioned in 1961 and decommissioned in 2003.

Corbin Foss’ eight-person crew will be switched out at Punta Arenas, Chile. And after delivering the ship, the tug will stay and work in the Gulf for about six months, said Arenth, who just spent a few days walking through the carrier and getting the rigging set up. In addition to the rigging, another key part of the preparation is fueling. So they’re working closely with contacts in South America to see what’s best along the route — fueling underway or docking.

The Navy awarded the recycling contract in June to International Shipbreaking Ltd., of Brownsville, which will be paid $3 million for the work. “The Navy continues to own the ship during the dismantling process,” the service said. “The contractor takes ownership of the scrap metal as it is produced and sells the scrap to offset its cost of operations.”

Bob Berry, vice president of International Shipbreaking, said the Constellation job will take about two years and yield about 60,000 tons of material. “The majority of our ferrous scrap goes into the U.S. market,” he said, but “there’s really no telling where it’s going to go.”

ESCO Marine, also of Brownsville, will scrap the carrier USS Saratoga.

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