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SEA 21 Navy Inactive Ships Office

Ship Donation Program

The Navy's Ship Donation Program has served the interests of both the Navy and the public since its inception in 1948, providing a tangible reminder of the U.S. Navy's role in American history. Through the authority of Title 10, U.S. Code Section 7306, selected naval vessels which have been determined to be historically significant are available for donation to a non-profit organization or to a State, Commonwealth, or possession of the U.S. or any municipal corporation or political subdivision thereof. As required by 10 U.S.C. 7306, donation of naval vessels must be at no cost to the U.S. Government. The Navy's policy restricts the use of naval vessel donations for the purpose of public display as a museum or memorial. Upon execution of a donation transfer, the Donee assumes title to the vessel and all ownership costs of restoration, preservation, maintenance, operation as a static ship museum/memorial for public display, periodic dry-docking, and ultimately ship disposal.

  • Promote public interest in the defense of the nation,
  • Commemorate naval history and heritage, and
  • Safeguard the preservation of donated ships for future generations.
What We Do

The Navy is responsible for designating vessels to be placed on or removed from donation hold status. As the Navy's agent, SEA 21I advertises the availability of historically significant inactive ships placed on donation hold, works with potential donees to determine interest and viability of ship museum projects, provides guidance regarding donation application requirements, evaluates the applications submitted to the Navy for ship donation, and makes recommendations regarding the applications evaluated.

Once a ship is placed on donation hold status, SEA 21I publicly announces the ship's availability for donation via a notice in the Federal Register. The Navy's minimum requirements for ship donation and other ship donation application information is available by clicking on "Ship Donation Application Info" on the right side of this web page. The ship donation application process is a three-phase process. Phase I Letters of Intent and Executive Summaries are due within sixty (60) days of a Federal Register notice. Phase II applications consisting of the Business/Financial Plan and Environmental Plan are due within one (1) year of the Navy's acceptance of an applicant's Phase I Letter of Intent. Phase III applications consisting of Towing, Mooring, Maintenance, and Curatorial/Museum Management Plans are due within six (6) months of the Navy's acceptance of an applicant's Phase II application. Once an applicant meets the Navy's minimum requirements for donation, a recommendation for award is made to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. If two or more applicants are vying for a ship, the Navy will choose the best applicant from among them that meets the minimum requirements. Transfers are made "as is, where is."

Vessels which have been on donation hold from more than two (2) years are subject to being removed from donation hold and redesignated for disposal unless the applicant is making measurable positive progress toward meeting the Navy's minimum requirements for donation. Beyond two years, donation holds can only be extended on a year-to-year basis and are subject to formal review at the Navy's annual Ship Disposition Review conference.

Because title and ownership of the vessel is accepted by the Donee, the Navy is no longer the owner of donated ships. The contractual requirement that donated vessels be maintained in a condition satisfactory to the Secretary of the Navy pertains to the use of the vessel in a manner that does not disrespect the veterans that served on these ships or the proud traditions and heritage of the U.S. Navy. Donation transfer contracts between the Donee and the Navy also require the Donee to obtain the Navy's consent to further transfer the vessel or to disposal of the vessel at the end of its useful life as a museum/memorial. This is necessary because demilitarization of warships by complete destruction, usually by dismantling, is postponed when the vessel is donated for museum/memorial use. The Navy's consent is required to ensure that the Donee properly demilitarizes the ship at the end of its useful life as a museum/memorial.


The Navy's Ship Donation Program has donated 48 vessels to serve as museums and memorials across the country to qualified non-profit organizations and States. The battleship Texas (BB 35) was the first ship to be donated in 1948 to the State of Texas. The destroyer Edson (DD 946) was the most recent donation in May 2012 to the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum in Bay City, Michigan. One donation contract was defaulted in 1980 when the submarine Roncador (IXSS 301) was repossessed due to the Donee's inability to comply with the terms of the Donation Contract and the vessel was subsequently scrapped. In 2011, the Navy approved the Donee's request to dismantle the minehunter Vosseller (MSB 5).

Inactive Ships Programs
  Artificial Reefing
  Service Craft Disposal
  Ship Dismantling
  Ship Donation
  Material Donation
  Ship Inactivation

Ship Donation Services
  Historic Evaluations
  News Room
  FAQ - Donation
  Eligibility Criteria
  Vessels Available for Donation
  Ship Museums
  Ship Museum Contracts
  Ship Donation Application Info
  Ship Donations Brochure PDF Icon
  US Navy Towing Manual PDF icon

Inactive Ships Contact Info
        Attn: SEA 21I
        1333 Isaac Hull Avenue, SE
        Washington Navy Yard, DC 20376
        Fax: (202) 781-4577
        Email Us

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