Navy nuclear refueling barge to be dismantled

June 4, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A U.S. Navy Surface Ship Support Barge (the large vessel in photo), which is used to refuel nuclear-powered ships and dismantle spent fuel units, will be scrapped in a three-year process. (Photo:

Towed from its home in Newport News, Va., the U.S. Navy’s Surface Ship Support Barge has arrived in Mobile, Ala., for decommissioning, Advance Local Alabama reported on June 1. The 268-foot-long barge operated from 1964 to 2016, supporting the Navy's nuclear vessel refueling and functioning like a spent fuel pool at a commercial nuclear power plant.

In 2020, APTIM Federal Services won a three-year, $129 million contract to dismantle the barge at the Alabama Shipyard. The company intends to remove radiologically contaminated components from the barge, which has been defueled. The components will be shipped to Waste Control Specialists’ disposal facility in West Texas.

According to Advance Local, there is speculation that the decontamination and dismantling of the SSSB could serve as a model for the disassembly of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, which was deactivated in 2012 and decommissioned in 2017.

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