1. Home
  2. / Industry
  3. / US Navy carries out a meticulous operation to dismantle nuclear submarines, a pioneering process that reflects the transformation of military technology into recyclable materials
reading time 3 min read Comments 1 comments

US Navy carries out a meticulous operation to dismantle nuclear submarines, a pioneering process that reflects the transformation of military technology into recyclable materials

Written by Rafaela Fabris
Published 26/05/2024 às 14:37
US Navy carries out a meticulous operation to dismantle nuclear submarines, a pioneering process that reflects the transformation of military technology into recyclable materials
Image: Construction Global/Disclosure

The US Navy conducts a pioneering and detailed operation to dismantle nuclear submarines, transforming military technology into recyclable materials in an efficient and environmentally responsible way.

The US Navy, known for its submarine fleet, carries out complex operations to keep these ships in service for several decades. However, there comes a time when these nuclear submarines must be removed from service, raising the question how to dispose of them safely and efficiently. Recently, the United Kingdom has excelled in this field by attempting to dismantle and recycle a nuclear submarine, an unprecedented feat in the shipping industry.

The process of dismantling a nuclear submarine is a meticulous and complex operation that involves several steps and great dedication. Since the 1860s, with the introduction of the Alligator Class submersible, the U.S. Navy has faced the challenge of maximizing the value and effectiveness of its submarines, even after the end of their service life.

Recycling of nuclear submarines begins with their official withdrawal from service

Recycling nuclear submarines begins with their official withdrawal from service. The crew says goodbye to the ship for the last time, marking the end of an era. This submarine, which may have served for more than 30 years, is then transferred to a dry dock, where the dismantling process begins. The dry dock is an artificial channel that can be flooded to allow the submarine to enter, and is subsequently emptied for full access to the ship's hull.

The first step is to remove valuable components and any potentially dangerous elements. This dismantling includes cutting the submarine's hull into large sections, making it easier to access the interior. All reusable equipment is removed, followed by removal of the nuclear fuel and reactor, ensuring the submarine is safe for long-term storage.

In the United States, the disposal and recycling of nuclear submarines involves seven main steps

This process can last several years, reflecting the commitment to safety, efficiency and environmental responsibility. In the United States, the disposal and recycling of nuclear submarines involves seven main steps, starting with disassembly and ending with recycling the materials. A notable example is the USS James K. Polk, which served from 1966 to 1999, being dismantled and recycled after more than three decades of service.

In addition to dismantling, some submarines are transformed into artificial reefs or used in military training programs. For example, the USS Oriskany was sunk in the Gulf of Mexico to create a marine habitat, demonstrating a sustainable alternative to out-of-service submarines.

The United Kingdom has dedicated itself to finding innovative methods for dismantling

The United Kingdom has dedicated itself to finding innovative methods for dismantling nuclear submarines. In 2026, it plans to reach a historic milestone by completely dismantling a nuclear submarine, a pioneering initiative that combines safety and innovation in the naval industry.

The operation to dismantle nuclear submarines is proof of the global commitment to efficiency, safety and environmental responsibility. Even after the end of their useful life, these ships may have a positive impact, contributing to sustainability and the recycling of valuable materials. The process is a testament to the ability to transform military technology into everyday objects, showing that even a retired submarine can continue to serve in a meaningful way.

Register
Notify
guest
1 Comment
Older
Last Most voted
Feedbacks
View all comments
Rafaela Fabris

Talks about innovation, renewable energy, oil and gas. Updates daily on opportunities in the Brazilian job market.

Share across apps
0
We would love your opinion on this subject, comment!x
()
x