Last week, two members of the Florida congressional delegation called on the U.S. Navy to “consider preparing and sinking the USS Bonhomme Richard off the coast of Florida where, as an artificial reef, it could become an environmental and economic benefit to the local community and state.”
U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., teamed up on the matter last week.
“The USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) is an 844-foot-long Wasp-class amphibious assault ship that sustained major fire damage last year and is unable to return to service,” Salazar’s office noted. “After determining that the options to repair the ship were deemed too costly, the United States Navy recently announced it will decommission the USS Bonhomme Richard. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the Navy is projected to spend approximately $30 million in preparation to scrap the ship. Instead of sending it to scrap, Congresswoman Salazar is urging the Navy to consider this alternative approach that would provide environmental and economic benefits and allow the legacy of the USS Bonhomme Richard to continue.
“As of May 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported over 3,600 artificial reef deployment locations state-wide. Artificial reefs are evenly divided between state and federal waters and range from 4 feet in depth to 414 feet (average depth 65 feet). The artificial reefs play a critical role in the conservation of endangered corals and marine life,” the congresswoman’s office added.
Salazar weighed in on the proposal on Thursday.
“We must strive to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and of our precious environment. Sinking the USS Bonhomme Richard off our coast is a much more cost-effective measure than preparing it for scrap metal,” said Salazar. “I look forward to spearheading these innovative efforts that conserve our environment, strengthen our economy, and support our veterans.”
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