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SEA 21 Navy Inactive Ships Office


Ship Inactivation & Ship Maintenance Frequently Asked Questions

(1)  What does decommissioning a ship mean? Is it different from inactivating a ship?
When a commissioned U.S. Navy ship is decommissioned, it is taken out of active service and the crew is reassigned to another ship or command. The day of the official decommissioning is established by the Fleet within the fiscal year specified by the Chief of Naval Operations. Inactivation is a process that lays up a ship for long-term storage in the event of mobilization or for safe storage pending disposal. Ship inactivation typically occurs in the three months preceding the official decommissioning date. Military Sealift Command (MSC) ship are not commissioned ship, thus are not de-commissioned. Rather, MSC ships are placed in-service when delivered and removed from service when inactivated.

(2)  How does the Navy decide which ships should be inactivated?
Each year, the Office of Chief of Naval Operations conducts a Ship Disposition Review conference to determine which vessels will be decommissioned from active service and either retained for potential reactivation or stricken from the Naval Vessel Register and designated for disposal.

(3)  How many ships are usually decommissioned every year?
The number of ships decommissioned each year varies and depends upon the needs of the U.S. Navy. During fiscal year 2013, six (6) ships are being decommissioned or removed from service.

(4)  May a ship ever be reactivated? If so, has this ever happened?
Yes, ships that are laid up for long-term storage in the event of mobilization may be reactivated. Reactivation does not occur very often, but one such example of this occurred in the 1980s when the IOWA class battleships were reactivated.

(5)  How much does it cost to maintain an inactivated ship?
The cost of inactive ship maintenance depends on a variety of factors, including the ship's size, age, and preservation requirements. The cost to maintain all inactive ships and the facilities that maintain the inactive ships, including personnel costs, is approximately $10 million per year.

(6)  What is the inactivation process?
Inactivation for long-term retention typically includes the following work:

  • Retention onboard of all hull, mechanical & electrical repair parts, electronic spares, maintenance assistance modules, and ready service spares; bench stocks; equipage not subject to deterioration; and test equipment.
  • Retention onboard of all installed equipment unless maintained in a restoration/turn-around pool to support potential ship reactivation.
  • Installation of dehumidification equipment to preserve interior spaces and cathodic protection equipment to maintain the exterior underwater hull.
  • Removal and storage of external topside equipment (e.g., antennas and directors) in the hanger bay under dehumidification.
  • Internally blank sea connections.
  • All machinery, boilers, turbines, piping systems, electrical systems, electronic equipment, weapons systems, and hull structure and fittings will be placed in a state of preservation.
  • Install smoke stack closures.
  • Pump and drain all petroleum systems.
  • Clean and gas-free Aviation Gas tanks and systems.
  • Clean and preserve JP 5 and diesel oil tanks.
  • Install propeller shaft and rudder locking devices.
  • Remove water and sludge from tanks and bilges.
  • Repair watertight doors and hatches.
  • Temporary services and firemain


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

Ship Inactivation Services
  Historic Evaluations
  News Room
  FAQ - Ship Inactivation
  OPNAV Instructions
  Naval Vessel Register
  Inactive Ship Locations

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


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