US mulls using old aircraft carriers to make a bridge near Seattle

17 April 2015
The USS Constellation in its younger days (Wikimedia Commons)

The US government is to fund a study into the possibility of reusing mothballed aircraft carriers to form a bridge across an inlet of the Puget Sound near Seattle in Washington State.

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$90,000 in federal funding has been allocated to examine the idea, which sees the huge ships lined up across the Sinclair Inlet. 

That would connect the small cities of Bremerton and Port Orchard, and give Seattle potentially quicker road access to the Kitsap Peninsula in the west. 

The US Navy, however, is not so keen.  

They’d come from all over 

The idea was floated by Jesse Young, a Republican congressman in the Washington State House of Representatives. He believes the bridge could be constructed with three aircraft carriers arranged in line-ahead formation, although a number of other configurations are also possible.  

A report on the costs and possible designs is due to be presented to the Washington State legislature by 1 December this year.  

The aircraft carriers in question are the USS Kitty Hawk, the USS Constellation and the USS Ranger, all of which are presently anchored in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Bremerton. 

Young told National Public Radio: “I know that people from around the world would come to drive across the deck of an aircraft carrier bridge, number one. Number two, it’s the right thing to do from my standpoint because this is giving a testimony and a legacy memorial to our greatest generation.”

The Constellation under tow to its berth in the retired ships facility in Puget Sound (Aaron Ansarov/Wikimedia Commons)

The Constellation was built in 1960 and took part in the Gulf of Tonkin incident that led to the America’s entry into the Vietnam War. Along with the Ranger, it is in Reserve Category X, meaning that it receives no maintenance.   

Not currently available 

Despite this, the US Navy has indicated that it would not be willing to allow its decommissioned ships to be reused for civil engineering purposes.  

A spokesperson told NPR that neither the Ranger nor the Constellation were “currently available”, and that the Navy planned to hold the Kitty Hawk in reserve until the new supercarrier Gerald Ford was operational, after which Navy policy required its reuse as a museum or its disposal at a ship breaking yard. 

The prospect of the carrier-based bridge has aroused a great deal of comment in the Seattle area. Sara Houston, a local resident, wrote on the Kitsap News Facebook page: “I would LOVE a bridge. In full support [for] it. I hate driving through the armpit of Kitsap County every day. Not to mention the back-ups when any little thing happens between Port Orchard and Bremerton. It would be wonderful to have more than one exit in the event of an emergency.”

Read the rest of the article at GCR

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