SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The decommissioned USS Yorktown has completed its final voyage Tuesday, passing South Padre Island on its way to the Port of Brownsville.

Beachgoers and anglers at the Isla Blanca Park jetties watched as a massive warship slipped through the shipping channel. The ship’s distinctive silhouette stood out as a bluish grey against a golden haze in the air.

The USS Yorktown CG-48 was a Cold War-era guided missile cruiser that launched Jan. 17, 1983, and was decommissioned Dec. 10, 2004.

In this 2002 photo, the USS Yorktown (CG-48) cruises the Caribbean Sea towards Colombia. The ship is now decommissioned and will be recycled for steel scrap at the Port of Brownsville. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Martin E. Maddock)

Her final journey to the Rio Grande Valley began Sept. 16 in Philadelphia and ended Tuesday in Brownsville, where the warship will be dismantled and recycled for scrap by EMR International Shipbreaking Limited, LLC at the port.

More decommissioned warships are on the way, with arrivals staggered by about three weeks between each ship.

“We bought five of them at one lot,” said Chris Green, president of EMR International Shipbreaking. “This is the most-valuable of them. [The cost is] kind of proprietary, we paid about $400,000 for the whole five.”

The other four ships, each weighing less than 10,000 tons, have to be prepared for transportation in Philadelphia and then towed to the Port of Brownsville, where they can be cleaned and scrapped in about six months. In comparison, the carriers that have previously arrived weigh over 60,000 tons.

“It’s much different economics involved in those project and they’re longer with more metal,” Green said.

The company president said the next former U.S. Navy ships to arrive for scrapping include:

  • USS John L Hall (FFG-32);
  • Nicholas FFG-47;
  • Samuel B Roberts FFG-58;
  • and the Underwood FFG-36.

The ships in this group will be dwarfed by the decommissioned USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), a massive Navy carrier that is expected to arrive at the Port of Brownsville around the end of the first quarter of 2023, according to Green, who cautioned that the date was not definite.

Respect for these decommissioned ships has become part of the shipbreaking company’s culture, Green said. Employees take pride in

“We have a ceremony for each ship, whenever they arrive,” Green said. “This is something that we’ve really instilled a culture of respect for the work that we do and the service that the ships [and crews] have put in for our country.”