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#6719479 - 07/26/12 Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location!  
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Sycamore Offline
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Heard this yesterday.

July 25, 2012

This fall, the U.S. Navy will contract three Cold War-era aircraft carriers the USS Forrestal, the USS Saratoga and the USS Constellation for scrapping. Often called "supercarriers" owing to their massive size, the ships contain nearly 60,000 tons of steel and other metal each.

All three carriers are likely to be sent to the landlocked city of Brownsville, Texas, to be ripped apart.

The deepwater Port of Brownsville lies inland at the end of a 17-mile channel connecting to the Gulf of Mexico. The long channel provides unparalleled protection from hurricanes and tropical storms.

In the past two decades, the city has become the center of the U.S. ship-recycling industry. Five of the nation's eight recycling companies are here. It's like Home Depot locating right next to Lowe's and Ace Hardware.

Tearing up big ships can be a lucrative business. It's also a messy one. Walk inside a ship that's being scrapped, and you'll find one of the nastiest places imaginable: filthy and rusty, with everything that's poisonous and salvageable torn out.

If it has rained, everything's all wet, too. Brush up against a bulkhead and you can kiss a white shirt goodbye.

But if you're a ship cutter, this is your office, and your cutting torch, your music to work by. Sixty cutters are employed here at Bay Bridge Texas, but even more will be hired soon.

Bay Bridge Texas is the nation's newest ship-recycling yard, says senior Vice President Barry Chambers. The company, backed by Indian investors with deep pockets, just moved to Brownsville from Chesapeake, Va.

Chambers says the infrastructure, the deep water channel and the weather all make the Texas city particularly attractive for his company. But building the yard, he says, still required plenty of work.

"This land did not look like this," Chambers says. "I put in 175,000 cubic yards of fill, leveled and compacted it."

Now, the yard's piers are built to handle ships as large as aircraft carriers. The pilings, made of steel cores, sink 60 feet deep.

From a distance, the tanker ship at the dock looks as though giant Post-It notes have been slapped onto the hull. But those squares are actually holes; the ship's been turned into Swiss cheese for ventilation and light.

Sergio Cazeres, who's been cutting ships since 1992, says the first cuts are made in the side of the ship. "In the hulls, we make cuts so the air can flow in," he says. "If it's too hot then we provide fans."

Recycled ships are typically scrapped from the top down and from front to back. As the steel is harvested, the bow lightens, and powerful winches begin to pull the ship out of the water and up a ramp.

Large white air bags, supporting 250 tons of weight, are rolled underneath.

Chambers says he moved from Virginia to Texas not just for the warm weather and infrastructural perks, but also for the labor pool. He pays between $10 and $13 an hour for the recycling work.

"The Hispanic workforce that I found here is excellent," Chambers says. "It's attitude more than anything. Every day here is different. This is not an assembly line job, and everyday you have to use your wits."


In a nation hungry for working-class jobs, ship recycling is helping to drive Brownsville's economy even at these relatively low wages. Nearly 1,000 welders scrap 80 percent of the ships recycled in the U.S.

After a ship is dismantled, the metal is shipped to Mexico. Chambers used to send much of his steel to the city of Monterrey in railroad cars 20 boxcars per train, loaded with 60 tons of steel in each.

But that steel had a market value of 10 to 15 cents per pound. And eventually, the boxcars began showing up in Mexico empty.

Chambers has no idea how the bandits were doing it. "It's unbelievable," he says.

It was no small feat to rip out the steel, Chambers says. "We've even tried welding the steel in there. Then we tried welding bars across the top of it, but it still disappeared."

So now, the steel goes by barge, and the shipments arrive intact. A few months later, they come back into the U.S. as automobile frames, engines and parts to be assembled here.

It's the large availability of ships to be recycled that drives the industry. And as the nation's reserve fleet of aging warships and tankers has become too old to use, those ships are increasingly being sold for scrap.

The price for steel has decreased in recent months with the slowing of the world economy. But that doesn't mean you can't make money breaking ships. Kris Wood, vice president of ESCO Marine, says ships still yield plenty of other valuable elements.

"There's a percentage makeup of nonferrous metals: That's your coppers, your brass, monels that are higher value," Wood says. "So, if the scrap market is down but the ship is still very rich in nonferrous metals, the project can still be a lucrative one."

Back on board at Chambers' yard, the ship cutters remove everything of value the furniture, the plumbing, the fixtures, the lighting and sell it. A shopper can get some good deals if they're open to a nautical theme.


Originally Posted by jorgeI
...Actually Sycamore, you are sort of right....
CMG 300 BP

#6719603 - 07/26/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Sycamore]  
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scopey58 Offline
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I guess it's good they're doing something down there.... Brownsville.... the new India..

#6719748 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: scopey58]  
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jorgeI Offline
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How sad. I've landed on two of them:

Saratoga: 225 traps
Constellation: 69 traps



Teddy Roosevelt, John Wayne, Winston Churchill paid to hunt...
#6719771 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Sycamore]  
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Redneck Offline
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I'm glad they're recycling the material.. Every time I hear of some ship being sunk to provide a 'reef' or whatever, I think it's a horrible waste of potentially valuable material and resources...



NRA Benefactor member.

Ex- USN (SS) '66-'69

Gunsmith since '98.

Pro-Constitution.

Molon Labe..
#6719782 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Redneck]  
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burner Offline
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Here's the key douchey part everyone is missing:

Quote

Chambers says he moved from Virginia to Texas not just for the warm weather and infrastructural perks, but also for the labor pool. He pays between $10 and $13 an hour for the recycling work.

"The Hispanic workforce that I found here is excellent," Chambers says. "It's attitude more than anything. Every day here is different. This is not an assembly line job, and everyday you have to use your wits."

Alpha

#6719790 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: burner]  
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Rancho_Loco Offline
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Very interesting article.. as for the workforce, I can easily see the benefits there.


Originally Posted by captain seafire
I replace valve cover gaskets every 50K, if they don't need them sooner...
#6719814 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Rancho_Loco]  
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I'm glad an Indian owned company hiring Hispanic workers on US soil and dismantling US Navy ships that taxpayers paid for where the scrap ends up in Mexico, will do well!

#6719874 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: NJelksmacker]  
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burner Offline
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As a former torch-cutter, $13 an hour was about what we were paid. I'd have loved to cut up a ship.

Only things I wanted to burn on that I never got to were a railroad car, and a ship. Mainly a railroad car just to see how they were put together differently from other things. Of course, in the yard where I worked I never would have seen a ship, but a guy can dream. smile

Bulldozers, forklifts, cranes, structural steel, huge industrial equipment, all kinds of other stuff were a daily occurrence.

#6719877 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: burner]  
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Biggest problem with these old boats is the asbestos and the lead-based paint.

A lot of shipbreaking is done in India, where they pollute the hell out of everything doing it.

#6720052 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: scopey58]  
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temmi Offline
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Texas
Originally Posted by scopey58
I guess it's good they're doing something down there.... Brownsville.... the new India..



wink


That which does not kill us makes us stronger

Friedrich Nietzsche
Bravo

#6720185 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: NJelksmacker]  
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Quote
I'm glad an Indian owned company hiring Hispanic workers on US soil and dismantling US Navy ships that taxpayers paid for where the scrap ends up in Mexico, will do well!


You're assuming that "Hispanic" and "American citizen" are mutually exclusive.

Toss a rock in Brownsville or most anywhere else in South Texas and nine times out of ten you're gonna hit a Hispanic, most all of whom will be American citizens. There's like ten million of these people now, a million more than the entire population of New Jersey.

Ten bucks an hour to start for manual labor down in the Valley ain't too shabby at all, especially given the annual cost of living down there is likely about half that of New Jersey.

Mostly I'm just glad this operation is operating on our side of the Border, and not south of it, or, as was pointed out, in India.

YMMV,
Birdwatcher



"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
#6720345 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Birdwatcher]  
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Foxbat Offline
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Originally Posted by Birdwatcher
Quote
I'm glad an Indian owned company hiring Hispanic workers on US soil and dismantling US Navy ships that taxpayers paid for where the scrap ends up in Mexico, will do well!


You're assuming that "Hispanic" and "American citizen" are mutually exclusive.

Toss a rock in Brownsville or most anywhere else in South Texas and nine times out of ten you're gonna hit a Hispanic, most all of whom will be American citizens. There's like ten million of these people now, a million more than the entire population of New Jersey.


YMMV,
Birdwatcher



Not to diminish your overall point, but I think "most all of whom will be" is a bit of an exaggeration.

Do you really think the overwhelming majority of Hispanics in Brownsville and other border towns in Texas are documented citizens?

On a side note, the use of the term "Hispanics" for Mexicans and other Central Americans is one of the stupidest creations ever. Thanks Bill....

Last edited by Foxbat; 07/27/12.

[Linked Image]



#6720390 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Foxbat]  
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Quote
Do you really think the overwhelming majority of Hispanics in Brownsville and other border towns in Texas are documented citizens?



Absolutely.

I'd float a WAG of at least 80%. And most of the actual Mexicans on the street in daylight will be crossing back and forth legally.

Bear in mind that from Brownville to El Paso we're talking a legit Border population of about 2 million souls. Now, how many of these Americans LOOK like Mexicans in a whole 'nother story.

Birdwatcher


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
#6720399 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Sycamore]  
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Do those welders wear hazmat suits?


Don't vote knothead, it only encourages them. Anonymous

"Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." Anonymous

"Self-reliance, free thinking, and wealth is anathema to both the power of the State and the Church." Derby Dude


#6720415 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: derby_dude]  
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Quote
Do those welders wear hazmat suits?


Ain't seen 'em, but we are talking a major operation contracting with the Dept of Defense. Never doubt the fact that the US and all that implies extends clear to the bank of the Rio Grande.

This is what makes it so surreal; where you can stand in the parking lot of a typical US shopping mall or on a golf course and physically be able to SEE across the universe into one of the worst Hells the world currently has to offer. Right there across the way.

OSHA and the appropriate regulatory outfits from the State of Texas will be all over that operation.

Birdwatcher


"...if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we would take great care in their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." Canasatego 1744
#6720471 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Birdwatcher]  
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ColsPaul Offline
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reeks and Wrecks.
That is all we are anymore!
So sad
everything created in first world nations, China, Japan etc


"wanna hear God laugh? Tell Him you have complete control now!"
#6720493 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: ColsPaul]  
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Steve_NO Offline
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I am shocked anybody is ship breaking in the states....with all the labor and environmental BS you have to put up with. The Indian knacker's yards have kind of had a lock on that industry for years....run 'em up on the beach, warp 'em in, rip 'em apart. and they don't need no stinkin' hazmat suits.



Proudly representing oil companies, defense contractors, and firearms manufacturers since 1980. Because merchants of death need lawyers, too.
#6720509 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Steve_NO]  
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ColsPaul Offline
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Steve is correct, they have never heard of OSAHA in India.
Get hurt on the job?
Too fruckin bad theres 50 guys waitin to take your place!


"wanna hear God laugh? Tell Him you have complete control now!"
#6720544 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: ColsPaul]  
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Steve_NO Offline
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if somebody gets killed, a few thousand rupees to the widow and you're good to go. and his son will take his job, if he can get it.

I represented what was then MW Kellogg when they were building the world's largest ammonia plant in India.....and the Indian government insisted on using coolie labor as much as possible instead of heavy equipment, because the goal was to employ as many people as possible. the stories their people would tell when they came back from that project would bug your eyes out.

"Life is cheap" is an understatement.


Proudly representing oil companies, defense contractors, and firearms manufacturers since 1980. Because merchants of death need lawyers, too.
#6720620 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Steve_NO]  
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jorgeI Offline
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I had a friend who as a LCDR got a "good deal" from the detailer and was sent off to the Indian War College. He was single. At first we all laughed and the borehogging he just got from the Bureau, then a few months later he sent us pics of the VILLA he had rented, replete with wall to wall coolies....and cooliettes catering to his every whim. One day he had a sewer "issue" and a bunch of coolies showed up and were practically Septic Tank "diving" to fix that schit ( smile ).

Sombitch even had his skivvies starched and a driver to take him to "school" every day.. Ah for the days of the British Raj and dreaming of empire....


Teddy Roosevelt, John Wayne, Winston Churchill paid to hunt...
#6720663 - 07/27/12 Re: Brownsville, Texas, new ship-breaking location! [Re: Steve_NO]  
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1minute Offline
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Quote
using coolie labor


Been a long time since I was stationed in Thailand, but it was amazing to see coolie labor building a runway at Don Muang near Bangkok. Each morning about 150 folks showed up with picks, shovels, and wicker baskets. They dug the trenches, hand layed rock about 4 ft thick as level as a pool table, and then equipment came in to pour the the cement. Not fast, but it was most certainly very fine work.

Bamboo scaffolding well up into the heavens was amazing to see too.


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