After the retired U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Storis was sold for scrap last year and dismantled for scrap in Mexico, Alaska Senator Mark Begich introduced a bill in congress to ensure that American vessels are recycled in America. But the act goes further than that – it requires a portion of the proceeds from the sale of federally-owned ships to be distributed to maritime museums and other such organizations – something that is already required, but is not adhered to by the operators of the nation’s mothballed fleet.
Denise Krepp is a lobbyist in Washington D.C. who works on behalf of American ship recyclers. The STORIS Act would help her clients, but it would also benefit the thousand or more maritime heritage organizations in the United States.
“The money that ship recyclers give to the government, and to date, that’s about $70-million, will go to the maritime heritage organizations. Under law, a quarter of that money is supposed to be going to museums and light houses and others that promote maritime history. And unfortunately they haven’t seen any money since 1998.”
She said maritime heritage organizations run the gamut from small museums up to the organization that cares for the U.S.S. Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides.
“I’m talking about incredible museums. There’S one that’s up in seattle that’s involved with the gold rush. And not only did it work with the gold rush a hundred years ago, but it was the last vessel out of Wake Island, right after Pearl Harbor was attacked. So there’s some pretty fhistoric vesse3ls around the country. In Virginia the mariner’s museum has the Monitor, like the Monitor versus the Merimak. That’s our history.”
Krepp said the money that’s not getting to maritime heritage organizations could be put to good use:
“When you think about these maritime heritage organizations, everything from museums to the lighthouses to the tall ships, to other organizations that are affiliated with maritime heritage, it’s an immense group. And you know, not all of them are going to receive the full funding, but they should be given the opportunity to apply for the grant money. And then this grant money should be used, and will be used, to education people about our maritime history.”
The act is called “The Storis” Act for the Coast Guard Cutter Storis, which spent 50 years patrolling Alaska waters after serving in World War II, but the name is an acronym for ‘‘Ships to be Recycled in the States” Act.
The act also requires a report to Congress each year of what happened to vessels not worth preserving.
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