From an economic point of view, I fully understand the concept of sunk cost - but this still makes me shake my head.
They are the two ships no one wanted, almost constantly embroiled in one dispute or another for the past 25 years. The two Navy behemoths have never gone on a mission, were never even completed, yet they cost taxpayers at least $300 million.
Now the vessels, the Benjamin Isherwood and the Henry Eckford, are destined to leave Virginia waters for good and be scrapped at a Texas salvage yard, with no money coming back to the U.S. Treasury.
The Isherwood and Eckford were part of an 18-ship class known as the Henry J. Kaiser fleet of replenishment oilers, titans that carry oil for Navy vessels around the globe.
They were the only two that went unfinished, and were part of a 1985 budget request from the Navy for three oilers for a combined $567 million, according to records.
The two were built at the Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Co. in Philadelphia, which defaulted on its Navy contract in 1989. The ships were then sent to Florida to be finished. But disputes over costs and materials in Tampa led to the termination of that contract in 1993, according to records.
The Navy thought about turning the Isherwood and Eckford into ammunition ships, but that proved too expensive. In 1997, three years after the ships had been mothballed in the James River ghost fleet, the Navy cut its ownership ties.
Since then, the two star-crossed ships have sat idle in the middle of the James - until this week.