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What is the SINKEX Program?

SINKEX, short for "sink at-sea live-fire training exercises", is program run by the United States Navy that arranges for decomissioned Naval warships to be used in live-fire training. This gives Navy personnel the opportunity to use real ammunition on practical targets and apply what they learn to future conflict, practicing gunnery, missile drills, torpedo accuracy, and even special warfare operations. MARAD has developed a memorandum of agreement with the Navy to include selected MARAD ships in the Navy’s SINKEX program. Together, these vessels provide:

  • a real-world, hardened target for at-sea live-fire exercises,
  • enhancement and maintenance of deployable combat-ready units,
  • opportunities for air, surface, and subsurface forces to integrate, plan, and execute firing, live ordinance, and tactical plans,
  • disposal of unwanted, dangerous, and expensive-to-maintain ships at a minimal cost,
  • enhanced training opportunities with multi-national forces, and
  • disposal of unwanted, dangerous, and expensive-to-maintain ships at a minimal cost


  • Suitability. Due to material condition, not all MARAD vessels are viable candidates for SINKEX. MARAD works closely with the Navy to conduct vessel inspections and develop cost estimates before agreeing on a specific vessel for inclusion in the SINKEX program.
  • Environmental. Deep-water sinking requires the removal of environmentally hazardous materials from ships before they are sunk. The EPA and Navy have identified and agreed upon those materials to be removed from a vessel prior to any SINKEX exercise. Procedures are also in place to ensure that vessels sink quickly to the ocean floor and remain there permanently without hindering marine navigation in the area. In addition, all sinkings are conducted in water of at least 6,000 feet (1,000 fathoms) and 50 nautical miles from land.


For questions about the SINKEX Program, please contact the Office of Ship Disposal.