Ex-Navy destroyer now East Coast artificial reef

Posted: 08/13/2011 in all marine news

Angie Yack –

Some sailors who served on the Navy destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford gathered Wednesday to watch it be pushed to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to become part of a manmade reef.

“It’s sad to see it being sunk,” said Lee String, 46, of Westville, N.J., who served on the ship in 1985 as a welder, pipefitter and plumber. “It was once a proud-looking ship, but it’s better to see it go to that purpose rather than razor blades.”

Officials say the 563-foot ship, which was decommissioned in 2003, is the longest vessel ever sunk as an artificial reef in the Atlantic Ocean.

It took about 3½ hours for the ship to submerge. Water initially entered the ship through the seacocks and started flooding the bottom of the hull. Then, just before 4 p.m., the bow went up slightly and the stern quickly flooded as the ship went down.

“I didn’t think she was going to do it at first. She definitely took her own sweet time going down,” said Scott Horne, 39, of Portsmouth, Va., who served a tour of duty on the ship. “She always put up a fight for a lot of things when we were under way. She always had her own way of doing things, but the mission always got accomplished. It’s the same with this — she put up a fight, and then when she finally decided to let go, she did.”

Plenty of manmade objects, including several retired New York City subway cars, are already submerged in the Atlantic to create habitats for sea life and new opportunities for deep-sea anglers and scuba divers.

The Radford’s resting spot is about 130 feet of ocean on what is known as the Del-Jersey-Land reef, named for Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. It lies about 25 miles off the Indian River Inlet in Delaware; Ocean City, Md.; and Cape May, N.J.

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