The decommissioning of the United States Navy’s Surface Ship Support Barge (SSSB) at the Alabama Shipyard near Mobile, Alabama, has concluded, marking the end of an era.

This historic facility, which quietly and steadfastly served the nation’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and cruisers for over five decades, has reached the culmination of its illustrious journey.

The Evolution of a Vessel

Initially a vital section of the World War II-era tanker SS Cantigny, built in 1945, the SSSB underwent a remarkable transformation in 1964, becoming the Prototype Waterborne Expended Fuel Container (PWEFC).

Later, sometime in the mid-to-late 1990s, it was further renamed and recognized by its familiar moniker, the Surface Ship Support Barge, often called the “Triple S-B.”

This conversion marked the beginning of its pivotal role in supporting the complex refueling, defueling, and maintenance operations for US Navy nuclear-powered surface ships—including the former aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65)—at Newport News Shipbuilding until 2016.

“This historic platform was an integral part of the Navy’s nuclear-powered ship maintenance efforts for decades,” RDML Casey Moton, Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers, noted in a statement.

Meticulous Decommissioning Process

The extensive decommissioning process, managed by APTIM Federal Services, LLC under a $129 million Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) contract, commenced in 2020 and recently concluded in the summer of 2023.