Friday will mark one year since the auction for the decommissioned Coast Guard Cutter Storis ended. At the closing bell, there was only one bid, which briefly gave hope to advocates who wanted the ship to be turned into a museum. But that optimism did not last long.
“You can imagine our horror and shock that the ship was essentially awarded to the only bidder the following morning for a sum that was substantially less than what we now know was the reserve price of $100,000, with the ship having been sold essentially for $70,100,” said Jon Ottman, a maritime history preservationist in Michigan.
Ottman had been working with groups trying to save the Storis from the scrap yard. After a summer of fruitless wrangling with the former Queen of the Fleet’s new owner, the Storis was towed in October from California to Ensenada, Mexico, where it was to be dismantled.
Ottman and others had tried reaching out to the U.S. government to try and block the transfer based on ecologic grounds, saying the Storis contained too many contaminants to legally be allowed out of the country, but to no avail. Ship-breaking began around December.
“I would expect that there was probably not much left if anything," Ottman said. "There may be some scraps around the scrap yard, but in terms of anything recognizable as what we remember as Storis, there’s nothing left.”
Despite the ship’s destruction, Ottman continues to seek answers for how and why it was disposed of. He has requested numerous government documents through the Freedom of Information Act, and expects them to be released this month.
“I, personally, would like to see I would like to see some accountability for what has been allowed to happen here," he said. "You essentially have a national crime against the United States Coast Guard and U.S. maritime history that has been committed here, and there are several agencies that are complicent in this situation.”
Given all of his research, Ottman says he has been urged to write a book about the Storis and its fate, but don’t expect a happy ending.
“You have this history of this magnificent ship, and you get to the end, and she’s destroyed.”
You can follow Ottman’s research at his blog and on Facebook .