Sinkex, Sinking A Ship

Credit: Jason Blackeye/Unsplash

Sinkex or Sink Exercise is a term used for deliberately sinking a ship.

Carried out by the navy, Sinkex (a portmanteau of Sink Exercise) refers to the process of submerging non-operational vessels.

This methodology of sinking ships is mainly prevalent in the United States where the Northern regions of Hawaii and the Pacific coastline near California are used as prominent Sinkex areas.

Purpose of Sinkex

The main purposes of carrying out a sinking exercise are two-fold in nature:

  • The navy uses the non-operational war vessels as a practical training ground to impart weapons training to its navy men
  • As this training is carried out on non-operational and old war vessels, it serves as an optimum way to do away with these non-functional vessels

Pros and Cons

  • Pro

The biggest pro of such an endeavour is perhaps to the naval cadets who learn about the weapons’ utilisation and various attack methods. The practical training provided is not just with simple missiles but also through submerged weaponry and torpedoes and even target air attacks.

Setting up a target zone to execute these practical training becomes easier. Since Sinkex is carried out within the borders of the United States, there is no political interference from any other international counterpart.

  • Con

The most vital disadvantage is to the ecosystem of the area where the sinking exercise is carried out. The old war vessels contain a lot of toxic and hazardous substances that if left around could cause the spread of diseases and disorders in the neighbouring communities.

Sink Ship Exercises Caused Health Problems

Just recently, it was brought to light that these sink ship exercises carried out by the navy inadvertently caused health problems induced by asbestos and various other toxic materials. It has been heavily documented that asbestos on Navy ships has led to many health problems for Navy veterans and during these exercises, a large number of toxic chemicals are released which may put cadets in danger. 

Though, prior to carrying out these exercises, thorough searching needs to be carried out of the vessel and denuding it for all possible toxic materials, the development of a newer variance of cancer has led to beliefs that these precautions are not met adequately.

Ideally, the materials that need to be taken out of the vessel are listed categorically by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the items mentioned in this list have to be adhered to mandatorily. 

Requirement To Carry Out The Sinking Ship

Alongside this list, the requirement to carry out the sinking ship exercises also includes:

  • That the exercise be carried out at a distance of 50 miles (nautically) from the nearest shore
  • That a depth of 6,000 feet be maintained while torpedoing the intended war vessel

Contrary to assumptions about this training exercise, the sinking exercise is not carried out on every non-functional naval vessel. Only after a detailed analysis of a particular vessel along with cost estimation are the ships selected for this endeavour, which adds further naval credibility to the whole procedure.


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Source: marine insight