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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Ship Disposal Program

What is the Ship Disposal Program?

Per the Federal Property and Administrative Service Act of 1949, MARAD serves as the U.S. Government’s disposal agent for merchant type vessels that are 1) 1,500 gross tons or more and 2) no longer useful for defense or aid missions. The goal of MARAD's Ship Disposal Program is to:

  • remove vessels that present the highest or most immediate risk to the environment, and
  • provide disposal alternatives and necessary funding to ensure that obsolete vessels are disposed faster than vessels are added to the MARAD fleet

Disposal responsibilities and methods vary, and depend greatly on the vessel in question, fleet needs, training opportunities, and the environment. Thanks to the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act (DoD Authorization Act) of 2001, MARAD can dismantle and/or recycle obsolete vessels, or dispose of them using any one of these efficient and envronmentally-responsible methods:

  • Ship Donation. Dontate the vessel to a non-profit, state, commonwealth, or U.S. organization for repurposing, to include: historic restoration/preservation as a memorial and/or museum OR operational restoration to support non-profit humanitarian missions.
  • Dismantling/Recycling. Domestic recyclers can bid for dismantle/recycle rights, or MARAD can directly solicit dismantling/recycling services for a fee.
  • SINKEX. A joint Navy and MARAD co-operative designed to provide ships for the Navy’s sink at-sea live-fire training exercises, or "SINKEX."
  • Artificial Reefing. MARAD accepts applications from coastal States, U.S. Territories, foreign government possessions to use obsolete NDRF vessels as offshore reefs for marine life conservation.


Select reports on Ship Disposal activity can be found in the Electronic Reading Room.  


For reports, or questions about any aspect of MARAD's Ship Disposal Programs, contact Nathaniel Williford, Program Manager at (202) 366 - 3653