The Navy is paying $8.5 million to Philadelphia Ship Repair, a unit of Northeast Ship Repair, a Boston company owned by J.F. Lehman & Co., headed by Reagan-era Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman, a Philly-area native and St. Joseph's University (BA), Cambridge and Penn (Ph.D) grad, to pull useful parts off five 1970s-era Navy ships that have been rusting in the Reserve Basin outside the former Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Navy spokesman Joseph B. Battista sent me an outline of the "harvesting effort" the Navy is applying to five frigates, long visible outside Urban Outfitters headquarters from the I-95 bridge over the mouth of the Schuylkill. (My father, Renato T. DiStefano Jr., see p. 48 here, worked on the electronics for these frigates for Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Navy engineering arm which, with other Navy offices, employs 1,600 engineers and techs in its offices east of the old shipyard.) -- Adapted from Battista's note to me:
The Navy built 51 guided-missile frigates from 1975 - 1989, expecting they'd last 30 years. (This group is called Oliver Hazard Perry frigates, after the first ship in the class, named for the hero of the War of 1812's Battle of Lake Erie, who built his wooden frigates in the woods of northwest Pennsylvania, and blasted apart a Canadian-built British fleet. Modern frigates are specialized warships with just one propeller.)
Some 15 of those ships remain in service with the U.S. Navy. Others steam for foreign navies (Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey). Five have been "decommissioned" and stored (Dad called the process 'mothballing") at the basin, the rebuilt arm of the onetime channel that winds partway around the former League Island (where the base was) and is used to store old ships (the Delaware is fresh water, which means that ships here tend to rust less than in other Navy ocean ports on salt water).