Human intrusion into the deep ocean isn’t usually a good thing but in the case of artificial reefs, we’re actually doing seafloor creatures a favor.
Launched in 1950 and decommissioned in 1976, the USS Oriskany served with distinction in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. To the joy of warriors and peaceniks alike, “Mighty O” now enjoys a restful sleep beneath the waves while encouraging the growth of a thriving marine ecosystem and providing recreational divers with a one-of-a-kind experience. At 911 feet long and weighing 44,000 tons, the Oriskany is the world’s largest artificial reef. After extensive environmental remediation, it was sunk on May 17th, 2006, off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. (images via Florida Fish and Wildlife)
The Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria sank spectacularly with the loss of almost 50 passengers in July of 1956, following a head-on collision with another, smaller passenger liner – the MS Stockholm. Measuring 697 feet long and weighing in at just over 29,000 tons, the Andrea Doria now lies on its side in 160 feet (50 m) of water off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Due to its lingering fame and relatively shallow depth, the Andrea Doria is a popular recreational diving site though the ongoing decay of the vessel makes it a “noisy” and occasionally dangerous unintentional artificial reef. (image via Bill Smith)
USS Arthur W. Radford
The USS Arthur W. Radford (#968, above left) was a Spruance-class destroyer launched in 1975 and decommissioned in 2003. The 564-ft long ship was scuttled and sunk at the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef site southeast of Cape May, New Jersey, on August 10th of 2011. A number of nearby communities are expected to benefit from the Radford’s new life as an artificial reef. “It’s going to be a huge economic boost for Ocean City (Maryland),” said Erik Zlokovitz, artificial reef coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It is expected to attract bluefish, sea bass, weakfish, sharks and tuna, and that will attract our charter fleet.” (image via Harley Flowers)