Massive barge dismantling project kicks off in Mobile

Surface Ship Support Barge arrives in Mobile, ready to be dismantled.

APTIM Federal Services moved a massive Surface Ship Support Barge to the Alabama Shipyard at the Port of Mobile Tuesday, in preparation for a three-year, $129 million dismantling project.

Built from a converted Navy tanker, the SSSB is a “radiologically-controlled” dockside refueling facility that supported nuclear-powered Navy craft. It was decommissioned in 2020 and spent 13 days traveling from Virginia to Mobile, its last port of call.

APTIM anticipates a significant financial benefit to Mobile, with plans to hire and train local workers; use local materials, trucks and hotels; and maximize use of the shipyard, port and rail services.

The majority of waste from the project will go to a Waste Control Specialists facility in Andrews, Texas. Because nuclear equipment is involved, the APTIM team anticipates on-site oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Alan Weakley, president of APTIM’s business unit overseeing the disposal of the SSSB stated, “This dismantlement and disposal of the SSSB represents a major step forward in NAVSEA’s campaign to reduce, in the most cost efficient and safe way, inactive nuclear reactors in both vessels and shore facilities. APTIM is proud of our contribution to safely and efficiently dispose of this once strategic asset. We are also proud of our partnership with Alabama Shipyard and their impressive safety record. APTIM has been a part of the fabric of Mobile for many years with our Port Modernization team headquartered in Mobile and our support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District. We are excited to strengthen our ties to Mobile and safely dispose of the SSSB.”

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The APTIM team received the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2018 Environmental Team of the Year Award for its earlier projects dismantling the MH-1A Nuclear Power Reactor and the Sturgis Barge in Galveston, Texas — the first floating nuclear power station.

“The SSSB brings with it an exciting opportunity for the City of Mobile’s economy by paving the way for tremendous job growth now and through future work in the dismantlement of Navy ships with highly skilled personnel,” said Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “APTIM has an exceptional record, and I look forward to seeing their continued success and the positive impact this project will make for our workforce in Mobile.”

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