Contracts for Suisun Bay fleet continue to puzzle
Allied Defense is out and Texas is in again
Strange goings on with scrap contracts for the Suisun Bay reserve fleet, the remnants of which are rusting away gently near San Francisco. On the face of it, the breaker yard that arose without trace, Allied Defense Recycling, lost out to a Texas yard by 0.25 percent - $12,000 - according to boss Jay Anast, for work on four hulks.
This was the firm that won the curious no-bid contracts worth $3.1 million to dismantle the SS President and SS Solon Turman.
Marad offered no explanation for that but deemed, for what in Washington is small change and is less than the daily lunch bill of lobbyists, the contract so important that Marad administrator David Matsuda was on hand for the ribbon cutting, along with local congressman George Miller.
Work on those ships continues, although there was a minor hitch the other day when a fire did or did not occur in the Turman, causing the yard to be shut down for a day.
Apparently, Allied now has the muscle to take on extra ships, which has surprised many observers, who reckoned it would be hard put to keep to the schedule for the first two.
Now, everyone's scratching their heads to figure out why the latest contract was put up for general grabs. If Marad has such confidence in Allied, goes the reasoning, "a no bid is a no brainer."
Instead, the four ships will be towed down the West Coast and through the Panama Canal, which comes to about 2 thousand miles of bunker fuel. Canal tolls are a matter of conjecture, with some industry sources claiming that vessels with US military credentials are toll free. (It's also claimed that only the US Navy is allowed to send warships through the canal, but this is nonsense because Russian ships have certainly been through.)
Allied reckons that about 1 million gallons of diesel will be used (presumably he meant bunker fuel, but the term got lost in translation by news outlets). Now it's questioning official reasoning, not to mention the environmental impact, for sending the contract to Texas.
Marad will only say that the contract represents "best value to the government." If Allied lost out by only 0.25 percent, there are obviously other factors of "best value" behind the contract. They may or may not be connected with the fire scare at Allied a few days ago, but they sure as heck are related to the efficiency and effectiveness of operations at Allied.
Which brings up the curious duet of Matsuda and the Congressman at the ribbon cutting. There has to have been more than mere ceremony and formality involved. It's looking as though they might be hoping that their presence is forgotten.