Wednesday, April 20, 2011

USS Arthur W. Radford to Serve as Artificial Reef

The decommissioned Navy destroyer will be sunk off the coast of Maryland, not to mention the 563-foot vessel will serve as the largest artificial reef to be planted on the East Coast.

"It's just a very big, bodacious project, and I have every expectation it will be a fantastic reef," said Hawkins, who is also an Ocean City Reef Foundation board member.

The boat's sinking location has been mapped to be roughly equidistant between Indian River Inlet, Cape May and Ocean City. Environmental entities from the three states are collaborating on the effort, with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control leading the project.

The vessel will be sunk in the Del-Jersey-Land artificial reef, where numerous other objects and vessels -- including wooden dry docks and two World War II era U-boats -- have been sunk previously, Hawkins said.

The new reef site should eventually be a big economic boost and an attraction for fishing and scuba diving, said Erik Zlokovitz, artificial reef coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

"It's going to be a great fishing habitat and an impressive site for scuba divers," Zlokovitz said. "I think it'll be an economic boost, and fishing and diving boats from all three states are going to benefit."

An firm date for the sinking is not yet set, but officials are hoping for a time in late May or June, pending final federal approval for the project and weather cooperation.

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