Tuesday, March 24, 2015

STORIS featured as a Monday Memory in Toledo Blade

STORIS was featured in a retrospective brief in the Monday, March 23 edition of the Toledo Blade. "Splashy debut for 'Queen of the Fleet'."

Readers and supporters of the ship had the opportunity to post comments on the feature page.

My responses, first as myself:
It’s worth noting the STORIS, likely the most famous and accomplished ship to have ever been built in Toledo, was placed on museum hold following her decommissioning Feb 8, 2007. In excellent physical operating condition, she was mothballed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet near San Francisco as efforts to secure her for use as a museum ship continued. After attempts at Congressional donation failed as late as 2012, the STORIS Museum of Juneau and The Last Patrol Museum of Toledo tried to negotiate with the U.S. General Services Administration to obtain the ship for use in Toledo as an active museum ship and training vessel for U.S. Navy Sea Cadets. Rather than follow the spirit and intent of federal preservation law that encouraged preservation of STORIS as a nationally significant historic treasure, GSA bureaucrats opted to sell the ship at auction for a paltry $70K in June 2013 to a shady scrapper, a so-called “used-car dealer” from San Diego. This scrapper spent the remainder of the summer trying to extort from the nonprofits five times what he paid for the ship. The Blade ran a story by intern Sam Gans on 7/15/13. When the extortion proved unsuccessful, the GSA, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and Environmental Protection Agency allowed the buyer to illegally export STORIS in late Oct 2013 to Ensenada, Mexico, for foreign dismantling. After faithfully serving the U.S. for over 64 years of decorated service with Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty, STORIS and all her crews were betrayed by the very government they served. The Mighty STORIS, Galloping Ghost of the Alaskan Coast and Queen of the Fleet, died on a beach in Mexico, picked apart between November 2013 and summer 2014 by the yardbirds of a substandard foreign scrapyard. Rather than being an active, thriving part of the Toledo waterfront, STORIS today is relegated to being nothing more than a Monday Memory in the paper. That’s the rest of the story.

As USCGC STORIS: Life and Death of a CG Queen
The scrapping of STORIS in a substandard foreign scrapyard in Mexico undoubtedly released undocumented encapsulated hazardous materials still aboard the ship that would have otherwise been safe with museum use. After her illegal export in late Oct 2013, members from STORIS’ last crew provided statements that confirmed the presence of large quantities of old wiring, cables and other materials that would likely have contained regulated levels of PCBs exceeding the export limits set by the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. The Coast Guard decommissioning reports, already deficient and sparse in content, did not list the presence of these materials and also seemed to show that conscious efforts were made to avoid testing any location on the ship that might have tested positive for PCBs. The sale of the ship by GSA violated federal law 40 USC 548, which requires that ships displacing more than 1,500 tons are to be disposed of by the Maritime Administration. STORIS displaced 1,710 tons. The export to Mexico violated federal law Section 3502 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which mandates that retired U.S. government vessels are to be recycled domestically. Scrapping should never have even been up for consideration by the government. This illegal activity by the U.S. Federal Government all took place in spite of the ship’s excellent condition that made her a perfect candidate for museum use and preservation. As noted, STORIS was listed as nationally significant on the National Register of Historic Places on Dec 31, 2012 and yet her destruction was sanctioned by government bureaucrats just a few months later. Efforts are still underway almost 17 months after STORIS’ export to secure documentation from the Federal Government through the Freedom of Information Act to determine how this crime against history was allowed to happen. The government agencies complicit in this disaster are not cooperating. They are ignoring requests, subjectively redacting large quantities of information or attempting to charge exorbitant fees; all classic government efforts to hide the truth.

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