Procurement: December 24, 2003

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: In a first for the Internet, a decommissioned (in 2001) aircraft carrier is being auctioned off on eBay.com (item 2449695840, until it was withdrawn yesterday). The ship is the former Brazilian navy Minas Gerais. This is a British World War II Colossus class light (20,000 tons) carrier. It entered service with the Royal Navy in 1944, and was eventually loaned to Australia in 1952. It was then sold to Brazil in 1956 and has gone through numerous upgrades and refits since then, including the addition of an angled deck in 1976. During the 1990s it mainly operated helicopters, because of a lack of fixed wing carrier aircraft, and catapult problems. A sale to a Chinese company fell through in 2002. The outcome of the eBay auction is uncertain. It was supposed to end on December 27th, and the  high bid was $20 million when the bidding was stopped on the 23rd.. This seems a bit high. Actually, the opening bid of $6.5 million seems a high as well for an obsolete, and quite elderly, warship. Although the Brazilians have kept the ship well maintained, there aren't many uses for it that would justify a large purchase price. Last year, there were reports (in Brazil) that the ship had been sold to a private company for under two million dollars. A ship broker handled the eBay sale, and stated that they already had one serious purchaser who  actually inspected the ship (which is being sold, "as is, where is.") Fear of bad publicity, or prosecution, causes eBay to keep real military weapons off its auctions.

There has long been a lively market, including some auctions, of decommissioned armored vehicles. For example, you can currently get a decommissioned Spartan armored personnel carrier for under $30,000. These are sold via an authorized agent of the Ministry of Defense (http://www.witham-sv.com/). Deals can also be had in Eastern Europe for Soviet era weapons. And, if you find the right broker (a legal one, that is), many former Russian warships are to be had at attractive prices. Perhaps this is all a bit late for this Christmas. But there's always next year, and now you know where to look.


 


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