Barge for sale, cheap
Some World War II veterans working at Naval Station Everett are finally close to retiring after more than sixty years of active duty service at bases around the Northwest.
Decades of hard work have taken their toll, but the three floating workshop barges moored at the station’s Pier Delta still have a lot to offer, which is why Naval Sea Systems Command will be making the vessels available for public auction through the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS).
The barges, officially classified by the Navy as Floating Workshops (YR), were built in 1944. During the development of Naval Station Everett, they were moored at the south wharf between what is now Pier Alfa and Pier Bravo.
The barges provided much needed temporary office and workshop space while the station was being constructed. The YRs hosted a variety of tenant commands over the years, including Everett’s Intermediate Maintenance Facility (IMF) detachment and the regional dive locker.
IMF was still housed in the barges when Chief Yeoman(SW/AW) Troy Schulz came to NAVSTA Everett.
“It was challenging at times,” Schulz said. “They were built just like a ship with cramped quarters, exposed piping and water tight hatches. And then the wind would kick up and rock the barge. It was just like doing your shore duty on a ship.”
IMF detachment Everett eventually moved to permanent quarters on the Naval Station in 2004.
Since their construction in 1944, the three barges have been used at bases throughout the Pacific Northwest, said Darryl Stuart, service craft coordinator at Regional Port Ops in Bremerton, where the three vessels were moored in the early 1990s.
The YR’s have been refitted several times throughout the years, serving variously as floating workshops, diving tender barges and even berthing and messing facilities. During their time in Everett, the barges were configured as maintenance shops with office spaces on upper decks.
Stuart serves as the custodian and inventory manager for the region’s service craft, including the three barges. When the last tenant command moved out of the YRs in 2004, a screening message went out offering the vessels for use anywhere throughout the Navy. No one expressed an interest in acquiring the barges, probably because of the obsolete design of the YR’s and the prohibitive cost of towing the vessels to a new port.
After also being rejected for foreign military use, the YR’s were turned over to the Inactive Ships program office at Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C.
“At that point,” said Stuart, “the YRs were stricken from the Naval Vessel Register, and work began to prepare them to be ready for sale.”
The Navy is required to remove hazardous materials such as asbestos, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and fuel oil from the barges before they can be sold.
The three YR’s are currently moored at piers Delta and Echo, the base’s service craft facility located behind the Port Operations building. Stuart is coordinating contract work to remove the hazardous materials and prepare the barges for sale. Currently one of the YR’s has been reported “ready for sale” and work is proceeding on the two remaining vessels.
According to Rod Speer, of the Inactive Ships office, a barge similar to the three YR’s was sold at auction for more than $16,000 four years ago.
The Navy’s authorized agent for selling the YR’s is DRMS. The agency will place the sixty-year-old barges in a sales catalog for several months before conducting a final auction.
From his new spacious office at IMF, Chief Schulz still remembers the difficulty of working on the barges.
“They were left over from the 40s, and the material condition of the YR’s was not good,” he said. “We have more space here, more facilities on land in a permanent building. We can accomplish our mission better, quicker, cheaper than on those old barges. After 60 plus years, their time has come.”
© 2005 Sound Publishing, Inc.