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NavSource Online: Aircraft Carrier Photo Archive

Ex-USS CORAL SEA   (CVB-43 / CVA-43 / CV-43)

The Scrapping

Photos © Christopher P. Cavas, Round Tower Productions & submitted by Robert M. Cieri
unless otherwise noted.

All photos were taken at Seawitch Salvage, Inc., Fairfield, Baltimore, MD,
from August 1993 to December 1994.

Used with permission.

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Upon striking from the Navy list, April 30, 1990, ex-USS Coral Sea was stripped out by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, then towed to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for final stripping and to await scrap sale.

In May 1993 the hulk was purchased for scrap by N.R. Metals of New York, and Seawitch Salvage was subcontracted to do the actual scrapping. In turn, Seawitch leased the site at Fairfield from Kurt Iron & Metal, which had a small scrap operation at the location. This is just off the southern entrance into the original Baltimore Harbor Tunnel on I-95, on the south side of the Patapsco River.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s01
146k

August 13, 1993 — Ex-Coral Sea had arrived at Fairfield on July 5, 1993, and scrapping at this point was minimal: only a few "test cuttings" had been done. The mast parts seen on deck had been cut off in Norfolk.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s02
136k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s16
124k

August 1993. Photo taken, © and submitted by Larry Backus; pilot, Ryan Backus.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s03
138k

September 10, 1993.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s04
153k

September 20, 1993 — The structure outboard of the hull on the starboard side forward had been cut off; the very forward end of the flight deck had been removed; and a hole had been cut in the flight deck just aft of the catapult accumulators. Debris from this cut was strewn around the flight deck between the catapults and the island.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s05
146k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s06
118k
CV-43 Coral Sea
NS024303
58k

October 4, 1993 — Coral Sea was the biggest warship scrapping project ever undertaken. Shown here in the 1st stage workers had started removing her flight deck at the bow. The project was mired in legal and environmental problems since the onset.

Official USN photo by Don Montgomery, courtesy of Haze Gray & Underway.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s07
159k

January 24, 1994 — These shots show the forward end of the angled deck cut away.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s08
144k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s09
193k

July 13, 1994 — The island structure had already been removed; the stack came down three days later. At this time, debris was everywhere.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s10
150k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s11
129k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s12
189k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s13
193k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s14
225k
CV-43 Coral Sea
NS024304
68k

August 25, 1994 — By early August the entire scrap operation had come to a halt, plagued by lawsuits from various government and private agencies.

Official USN photo by Don Montgomery, courtesy of Haze Gray & Underway.

CV-43 Coral Sea
NS024305
74k

August 25, 1994 — Broadside view of the ship; this is not a pretty sight.

Official USN photo by Don Montgomery, courtesy of Haze Gray & Underway.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s15
151k

December 2, 1994 — The entire island and stack structures were gone; the flight deck aft of the forward hangar bulkhead had been removed, along with most of the hangar walls. Scrap operations had not proceeded below the hangar deck level.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s18
169k

"These photos were taken on a boat ride from Baltimore to Annapolis, MD back in 1994. We were on our way out of Baltimore when I took these shots. As well an unknown destroyer[—either ex-Davis (DD-937) or ex-Manley (DD-940)—]next to the carrier."

Photos by Cody Z. Shaffer.

Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s18a
152k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s18b
101k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s18c
63k
Ex-Coral Sea
NS-cv43-s17
166k

March 1995. Photo taken, © and submitted by Larry Backus; pilot, Ryan Backus.

Also shown is ex-Sanctuary (AH-17).

Sometime in 1995 the ship's owners announced the hulk would be sold for scrapping in India. The hulk was cleaned out and made ready for the tow and in October the Chinese ocean tug De Da arrived in Fairfield. The Navy protested because the terms of the sale contract forbade scrap operations outside the US; a Federal Court sided with the Navy in mid-January 1996, and the sale was cancelled. Scrapping work resumed in March 1996, only to stop again in August, when Seawitch was indicted on criminal charges related to the scrapping. Fires broke out aboard the hulk in November 1996 and May 1997. Scrapping work had resumed by mid-1997, but proceeded at a slow pace. Scrapping was finally completed on September 8, 2000.


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Last update: 30 March 2014