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Two US navy aircraft carrier ships are sold for scrap metal at 1 cent each

The Independent logo The Independent 07/10/2021 Justin Vallejo
USS Kitty Hawk entering the port of Busan in 2005 - EPA © EPA

USS Kitty Hawk entering the port of Busan in 2005

- EPA

See a penny, pick it up, and anyone could afford the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk or the USS John F Kennedy. The veteran warships of the Vietnam and Gulf wars were sold to a scrap metal dealer in Texas for one cent each.

While seemingly a bargain for the company, International Shipbreaking Limited, it’s actually the navy getting the better end of the deal.

Usually, the navy pays the scrap metal dealer to haul away the giant ships, but International Shipbreaking Limited senior manager Chris Green told the Brownsville Herald it was financially viable to take the two aircraft carriers with essentially no payment.

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The navy previously paid ISL to have the company tow and dismantle the decommissioned vessels, including the USS Constellation and USS Independence. The USS Ranger was dismantled for essentially nothing, Mr Green added.

A spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, Alan Baribeau, confirmed in a statement that the navy would not have to pay for the two ships to be towed, scrapped and salvaged.

"The contract values reflect that the contracted company will benefit from the subsequent sale of scrap steel, iron, and non-ferrous metal ores," Mr Baribeau told USA Today.

Both the Kitty Hawk, nicknamed the "Battle Cat", and the JFK were launched in the 1960s, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command. They were decommissioned in 2009 and 2017, respectively.

But not just anyone can offer a penny to start building their own private armada. The Defence Counterintelligence and Security Agency will put ISL employees through background checks to keep the engineering of the aircraft carriers under wraps, Mr Green told the Herald.

International Shipbreaking Limited estimates it will take 10 to 18 weeks to tow the USS Kitty Hawk through the Strait of Magellan, reaching Teas by 2022. The USS JFK would arrive several months after. Taking apart both carriers could take between two to for years.

That’s just in time as the US will begin phasing pennies out of circulation in 2022 and stop minting the coin in 2023.

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