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BRAMBLE: A piece of American naval history auctioned off for just $80k

PortandTerminal.com, December 5, 2019

World War II era USCG Cutter Bramble’s new owner said no decisions yet on the retired Coast Guard ship’s fate.

MOBILE, AL – The vintage U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bramble (aka The Bumble) which had been seized in Mobile, Alabama, for unpaid bills has been sold at auction.

An order was issued in October to auction the 75-year-old ship as part of a federal lawsuit filed by Inchcape Shipping Services against the ship and associated companies in August for unpaid bills.

The U.S. Marshals held the auction for the former U.S. Coast Guard ship, the Bramble, yesterday (Dec 4) on the steps of the federal courthouse in Mobile, Alabama. There were just 2 registered bidders, and the winning bid, pending execution of all required terms, was $80k. Basically its value as scrap.

Only 2 registered bidders participated in the auction

The Bramble

Bramble participated in Operation Crossroads, a pair of nuclear weapon tests conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll in mid-1946. They were the first nuclear weapon tests since Trinity in July 1945, and the first detonations of nuclear devices since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

Bramble is one of the 39 original 180-foot seagoing buoy tenders built between 1942 and 1944. In 1947, she participated in Operation Crossroads, the first test of an atomic bomb’s effect on surface ships at Bikini Island. Bramble took over responsibility for the maintenance of Aids to Navigation (AtoN) in Bikini’s lagoon from her sister ship Redbud, which had helped prepare the target area for the first round of tests. Bramble was located about 15 miles from the atoll to watch the detonation of an atomic bomb over the target area before setting a course for Hawaii.

READ: A piece of maritime history being auctioned off for unpaid bills

Winning bidder’s plans for the Bramble

Modern American Recycling Services, the winning bidder in the auction for the retired U.S. Coast Guard Bramble calls itself the “largest barge dismantler and offshore decommissioning provider in the United States,” according to its website. 

Asked why they purchased the ship, Phillip Mason, vice president of operations for the Modern American Recycling Services’ Waggaman and Mobile facilities, said, “We just decided to buy it, I don’t know.” 

Mason said a decision has not been made as to what will become of the historic ship. 

“I would like to preserve, I would very much like to preserve the boat for the history of it,” he said. 

Mason said he’d like to incorporate the Bramble into their fleet of ships. The company uses boats when they recycle oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, he said. 

“But what it boils down to is economic, economic factors will ultimately rule,” he said. 

Mason said he was “impressed” when he boarded the ship Wednesday. 

“She might not be a museum, but she’ll be a working boat,” Mason said. 

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