US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District

STURGIS Update, March 15, 2019

The crew at the International Shipbreaking Limited (ISL) facility, located in the Port of Brownsville, has continued to make excellent progress as they implement the STURGIS’ shipbreaking work and they have just recently completed the final major cut, effectively marking the physical completion of the decommissioning and dismantling of the STURGIS.

The crew on site has been sectioning the vessel since January, piece by piece from stern to bow as it’s moved ashore onto a platform. We are proud to share that the team commemorated the final section of the vessel being removed from the water and placed on the dock for sectioning into smaller pieces to be made available for recycling.

The final steps will be to separate the traditional waste from the remaining sections, dispose of it, and to size and prepare all the remaining metals for recycling.  As a reminder, with the radioactivity having been removed from the STURGIS, the remainder of the vessel will be recycled. Based on the current estimates, we anticipate that we will be recycling approximately 5,800 tons of steel and other assorted metals from the ship.

This milestone marks the completion of the decommissioning and dismantling of the STURGIS vessel.  The team will now work to finalize a Project Closure report which will document all of the work required to implement this project.

The team also remains focused on historical documentation aspect of the STURGIS project. We have been working with the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate the adverse effects of the Decommissioning and Dismantlement to the National Register eligible STURGIS Barge.  To accomplish this, the team is finalizing a historical report that documents the life of the STURGIS from its beginnings as a World War II Liberty Ship, to its conversion to a floating nuclear power plant, to its deactivation and ultimately through the final decommissioning and dismantling effort that has now essentially been complete. We anticipate the report should be ready for printing and distributing to appropriate libraries this summer and will be shared online as well.

With the physical work of the decommissioning and dismantling complete, we will plan to send one last stakeholder update when the historical mitigation report is complete.  At that time, we will share a link to the historical mitigation report, plus we will share any final details regarding the project closure. 

We again want to take this opportunity to thank the local Galveston and Brownsville communities and our local partners and stakeholders for their support as we implemented this complex project in both communities. The local support our team has received greatly contributed to the success of this project.

Click here for photos

Click here for previous stakeholder updates


The STURGIS, a former World War II Liberty Ship, was converted into the first floating nuclear power plant in the 1960s. Before being shutdown in 1976, the STURGIS’ nuclear reactor, MH-1A, was used to generate electricity for military and civilian use in the Panama Canal. It is important to note that the MH-1A reactor has no nuclear fuel or special nuclear material. The reactor was de-fueled, decontaminated for long-term storage, and sealed before being towed to the James River Reserve Fleet at Joint Base Langley Eustis, Virginia; where it was stored and maintained since 1978, except for times of periodic dry dock maintenance.

Historical videos can be found at the following YouTube links:

1) Army Nuclear Power Program: 

2) STURGIS Dockside Testing Report:

3) STURGIS Construction Report:

Contact Information

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Project Documents

Fact Sheets and Graphics

In this section you will find several fact sheets, plus informational materials that visually illustrate the project.