In 1994, Wilmington, N.C. became the site of a ship scrapping operation. There were twenty decommissioned U.S.NAVY warships and one maritime ship.Wilmington Resources, Inc.,and Sigma Recycling, LLC, operated the facility.
The following is an account of one of the workers who dismantled the USS ADROIT and the USS LEADER at the Wilmington, NC yard.
Al Hines - Webmaster
Scrapping Of The USS ADROIT MSO 509
USS LEADER MSO 490
By Fred Rueckert
During the 1990's I was living in Wilmington, North Carolina and working for a local push boat and barge company, and I was looking for some side money. I applied at Wilmington Resources a new scrap yard on the river and joined a small group of guys who tackled two ships to scrap at the yard.
Those ships were the ADROIT and the other was the LEADER. We started on the ADROIT first. We were not allowed to work on the other ships, just the wooden ones. I had never scrapped a ship, and my arms were not used to cutting everything under the sun, especially when it was so thick. I don't know if this is good or bad to say but there was no real supervision, we just cut everything around us, from wood to lines in the engine room and other spaces. The sawzaw became my best friend. I know when we were well into the Adroit, we moved over to the Leader. We had begun to cut the hull in midships and one of the yard guys happened to stop by to check things out and he almost fell over, he was REALLY afraid that the ship might break her back and sink at any moment!!! Anyway, the yard was closed down for environmental reasons.
The other ships at the yard seemed to go quite quickly compared to our task. The crane operator who was working on the steel ships would swing over when we had a big chunk, or section ready to lift off and place it on the ground to be reduced to rubble. After picking through, he would say ready, and the crane would tug and tug, the piece would make a crunching sound and would not break apart. We would get mad and start cutting some more and he would swing back over. Ready (with a laugh), then with a big popping noise the piece would tear free and we all would start to cheer and laugh. Everyone at the yard must have thought we were crazy!
Later an old merchant ship arrived and was tied up next to the yard, and more ships were in the river. I asked my boss if I could take some pictures of the scrapping, the yard, the river and the merchant ship etc., being it was a new experience for me. He said NO!, but I thought YES!!!!!!.
I enjoyed my time in Wilmington, NC. I also worked at UNCW in the theater department.
After looking at the 102 MSO's site log and my photo's, there are 4 minesweepers at the yard, MSO 509 is next to MSO 490, while MSO 433 is next to MSO 449. When we finished MSO 509 the ships were moved. MSO 433 and MSO 449 never were scrapped in Wilmington, NC. The yard was closed down.