by Kit and Carolyn Bonner
Published 2001 by MBI Publishing Co.
Review by Jeff Herne
The U.S. Navy maintains a number of harbors for its obsolete vessels. This collection gives enthusiasts an admirals tour of the naval storage harbors in Philadelphia, Norfolk, Pearl Harbor, and Bremerton, Washington, as well as the once-proud fighting vessels awaiting reassignment, sale, or the cutting torch. Author Kermit Bonner takes readers through the entire disassembly process from start to finish, describing in detail how these surplus cruisers, submarines, destroyers, and aircraft carriers are scrapped, including more complex processes involving nuclear submarines.
Although it's a great book with lots of very interesting photos, most in color, it's also depressing. Seeing Fletchers, Gearings, and Cleveland Class Cruisers sitting in mothballs, with some photos dated as late as November of 1999, marks a sad end for many historical ships. Sadly, most of the ships shown in the book are now gone.
The book is not entirely relegated to the disposition of worn-out ships from the modern era. The authors do a superb job in chronicalling the history of the US Navy's surplus fleet, starting with the early reserve fleets of the 1800s. Although most reserve fleets were small by post-WW2 standards, it's interesting to learn of the fate of many of the Civil War, Great White Fleet, and WW1 era ships.
At $19.95, and available from Borders, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, this book is a nice addition to any naval library, as it tells a story that is often overlooked in the annals of naval history, where old ships go to die.