This page was taken in it's entirety from the "Fleet Reserve Association's Naval Affairs Page".
Life After Death
In mid April 1995, I was reluctantly given permission by a variety of government and private authorities to visit the former Essex Class carrier USS Hornet (CV-12/CVA-12/CVS-12). She was berthed at the now mostly deserted Hunter's Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco and is the property of the Astoria Metals Corporation. An organization was formed to keep her, but her fate was uncertain. At least she evaded the breakers torch this past summer. She was on temporary display across the Bay at the Alameda Naval Air Station as part of the VJ Day observances through October 1995, when she was scheduled again to be towed back to Hunter's Point for disposal. The old carrier was not the only ship at the yard.
A Rare Discovery
While looking for the Hornet, I also found five Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers and two Brooke class guided missile escorts quietly nestled alongside the piers that parallel the yard's main drydock. In addition, there were a variety of former fleet train support ships, and when you consider the available firepower present, the now-forsaken ships represented a credible carrier battle group with substantial amphibious capability. How valuable they might have been off Guadalcanal in August 1942.
The veteran carrier will probably be towed to India or Taiwan for scrapping as will the support ships, but the Consolidated Power and Minerals Corporation of San Francisco which owns the destroyer type ships has something else in mind.
This corporation purchased a total of eighteen ships at an auction recently, seven of which were at the Hunter's Point Yard. The Missile Escorts are the Schofield (DEG-3) and Ramsey (DEG-2). They are of the Brooke class which displaced 3426 tons/length, 414'/beam, 44'/SHP, 35,000/speed 27 knots. They are armed with one 5-inch/38 cal gun/one Tartar surface to air missile launcher/ASROC and the abortive DASH (robot helicopter) system.
The Brooke class was an interim class of destroyer escort armed with the most up-to-date weapons available in the mid to late 1960s. They were actually the test bed for the Oliver Hazard Perry class fast frigates produced in great numbers some years later. As I walked down the dock toward them with two uncooperative cameras and a camcorder, the DEGs looked almost factory fresh. With the exception of being disarmed and having the end of their five-inch gun barrels cut off, they look as if they could still be operational, at least at a distance.
The Adams class destroyers consisted of the Hoel (DDG-13), Towers (DDG-9), Henry B. Wilson (DDG-7), Robinson (DDG-12) and the first of the class launched in 1959, the Lynde McCormick (DDG-8). The lead ship of these purpose-built guided missile destroyers was the namesake of the class, the Charles F. Adams (DDG-2).
These ships were the first ships designed and built as guided missile destroyers from the keel up. Experiments on the Gyatt (DD-712), a Gearing class destroyer proved the worth of mounting a guided missile on destroyer type ships for air defense. This occurred during that short but barren technological period between the slow firing all gun air defense and the current wizardry of automated guided missile systems and Vulcan Phalanx 20 mm close in weapon.
The Charles F. Adams class provided the Navy with a state-of- the-art air defense system that could respond to any Soviet threat into the 1970s and even beyond. Plus, they were credible anti-submarine warfare platforms and could also be called upon for shore target bombardment with their highly dependable five-inch/54- caliber guns. This class of destroyers, the second built after World War II (just after the Forrest Sherman class) displaced 3370 tons/437', length/47', beam/70,000, SHP/speed 33 knots. They were armed with two 5-inch/54-caliber guns/ASROC/Tartar surface to air missiles. They were not helicopter or DASH capable. They were also one of the most attractive ships ever designed for the Navy. They were so well thought of, that Australia and Germany also operated modified versions of this class.
All in all, these were magnificent ships and would last into the 1990s, but all things come to an end. The advent of the Spruance class destroyers and now the powerful Arleigh Burke relegated the old Adam's class to mothballs and now the auction block. By the early 1990s, most had been decommissioned and laid up. The cutbacks in military appropriations sealed their doom and they were recently stricken.
New Life For Condemned Ships
Most obsolete ships bought from the Navy or commercial shipping lines are reduced for scrap metal, mainly in the backwaters of some far eastern port. Occasionally, one of the more famous will be preserved as a memorial or tourist attraction, but in the case of the destroyers I found at Hunter's Point, neither fate applies.
Consolidated Power and Minerals Corporation, which purchased the ships from the Navy at auction, systematically reduces the destroyers by removing their masts, superstructure and armaments. The metal from these sources is disposed of as scrap, and what remains is a hull with one deck and two funnels. The hull and remaining structure is then placed in drydock, cleaned and painted. The ship's engineering system is checked and any necessary repairs carried out, and what emerges is a floating electrical power plant capable of generating up to 60 megawatts.
In essence, a former destroyer has been converted to a portable source of energy for moderate size cities and is capable of generating dependable electricity for up to 20 years. There is such a great demand, that Consolidated is looking into purchasing some of the Leahy and Belknap class cruisers now laid up in Suisun Bay, California, for the same purpose. Ironically, if this happens, this innovative corporation will own the third most powerful Navy in the world!
Consolidated is providing these modern floating power plants to third world nations in South America and the Far East where inexpensive and reliable energy sources are in demand. When you consider that the ships are approximately 35 years old at present, when they complete their service as power sources, they will have served for over half a century.
If by some chance you visit a port city somewhere and see a familiar looking ship in the backwaters that consists of a hull with two funnels, it may have been the tin can or cruiser you served on as a youngster. There is life after death for these ships as they continue to provide valuable service. This is a far better ending than becoming part of a foreign car or a package of throwaway razor blades.
Managed and approved by Vince Cuthie, Director of Communications and Chuck Calkins, National Executive Secretary. Please send questions and comments to FRA at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703) 683-1400.
Updated April 1, 1996.