One way of disposing of decommissioned and stricken warships is to use them as targets during sinking exercises (SINKEX). The Navy conducts most of these exerices at four major locations: north of Kauai, HI; off California; off the US east coast and off Puerto Rico. The exercises are focused on honing weapons firing skills and proficiency.
Other locations are mainly chosen for two reasons:
- the ship is intented to become an artificial reefing at this special location (e.g. USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32), sunk in the Florida Keys area). Ships used for this purpose are often only sunk by explosive charges and not by bombs, torpedoes etc.
- the target ship previously suffered severe damage during an accident and repairs or a transfer back to the US are not cost-effective (e.g. USS La Moure County (LST 1194), sunk off the coast of Chile)
Click on one of the red dots in the map on the left to get a detailed map of the respective location featuring some of the ships sunk there. Dots with a "x" inside are not available yet.
Before a SINKEX, everything that might harm the environment is removed from the target ship. On November 25, 2003, President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Bill (HR 1588 Sec 1013), allowing appropriate decommissioned ships to be donated for use as artificial reefing. This will result in the increase of the number of ships used for this purpose and is intented to reduce the size of the inactive ships inventory in a cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. The first ship in the program was the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CV 34).