Ex-Navy destroyer Radford sunk off Indian River Inlet as longest vessel ever reefed in the Atlantic
DATELINE: Atlantic Ocean 38* 30.750’N … 074* 30.700’W (Aug. 10, 2011) — Culminating the country’s first multi-state artificial reefing effort, the U.S. Navy destroyer ex-USS Arthur W. Radford was sunk today in 135 feet of water off the Indian River Inlet. The decommissioned warship’s carefully-staged sinking was witnessed by former crew members and state and federal officials aboard the Cape May-Lewes ferry M/V Delaware, chartered for observing the Radford as she descended at approximately 3:30 p.m. to her final resting place as an artificial reef.
The Radford, her hull spanning 563 feet and the longest vessel ever reefed in the Atlantic, was sunk at the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef site located 26 miles southeast of the Indian River Inlet. The Del-Jersey-Land reef is a collaborative effort of the three states cited in its name - Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland – and lies equidistant from fishing ports in Indian River (Del.), Cape May (N.J.), and Ocean City (Md.).
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell sent a message of thanks to the ex-Radford’s crew members for their service: “This ship and its crew have been all over the world protecting our country. Now, the Radford’s new mission will bring people from across the nation and other parts of the world to our region.
“Our artificial reefs bring in thousands of fishing and dive trips annually – and that brings in something else we like to see in our region – jobs,” Markell continued. “We’re excited and thankful for the successful collaboration between Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. I’d also like to thank the Navy for their assistance. Through this partnership, this ship represents a step forward in protecting our environment, promoting incredible biodiversity, and providing special recreation opportunities for families and explorers.”
“The reefing of the Radford provides an immediate economic boost to offshore sport fishing and scuba diving in Ocean City,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. “The reef project is a shining example of collaboration between the Navy and multiple states to protect our valuable natural resources and to create green sustainable jobs. I want to thank the nearly 70 private and non-profit partners that collaborated on our contribution.”
"We are pleased to participate in the deployment of the Radford on its last mission," said Amy Cradic, Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. "In this new role as an artificial reef, the Radford will become a major destination for divers and anglers from all over, providing a boost to the economies of all three partner states."
“Beyond benefiting marine life, the sinking of the Radford at the Del-Jersey-Land site is a tremendous boost to Delaware’s
coastal economies through recreational fishing and diving,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara. “This extraordinary reefing of the Radford strengthens our marine resources and enhances Delaware’s internationally-recognized network of 14 artificial reefs.”
“The sinking of the ex-Navy destroyer, USS Arthur W. Radford, will allow it to continue to serve our country far after it was decommissioned,” said Senator Thomas Carper (D-Del.), a former Naval flight captain. “By adding the former warship to the artificial reef off the coast of Delaware, the Radford will help bolster the region’s coastal economies and make a great example of taking something old and turning it into something new.”
“Delaware has always been a state of firsts, and I’m pleased that we can be part of America’s first multi-state artificial reefing effort,” Senator Chris Coons (D-Del) said. “I applaud the collaborative undertaking of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and the U.S. Navy to sink the Radford off our states’ shores in a way that is not only safe for the environment, but beneficial to it. The Radford will provide a habitat for marine wildlife to flourish, helping to attract tourism and enhance revenue to Delaware’s coastal region.”
“I’d like to congratulate all of the officials and workers in Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland who helped make today possible,” said U.S. Representative John Carney (D-Del). “The establishment of this artificial reef is a tremendous example of how all of our states can work together in the best interests of our region. The Radford is an exciting addition to Delaware’s artificial reef program, and I’m sure it will benefit those who enjoy fishing and diving, as well as the marine life off of our coastline, for many years to come.”
After the Navy’s announcement of the Radford’s availability for reefing in January 2008 and a 2½ -year application process, the ship underwent 14 months of preparation by American Marine Group, a Virginia-based marine towing, salvage and reefing contractor. The company, which has extensive experience reefing ships in the Atlantic, cleaned and prepared the Radford to EPA specifications. Much of her armored hull and other nautical equipment were recycled for reuse. Funding for the ship’s transportation, cleanup, preparation, sinking and monitoring was shared among the three states and the Navy. Delaware’s portion came from the Sportfish Restoration Program that includes federal excise taxes on fishing and boating equipment in state.
“We’ve got every reason to salute the Radford as the centerpiece of our reefing efforts,” said Jeff Tinsman, manager of Delaware’s artificial reef program. “We’ve got more than 1,300 New York City subway cars, assorted Navy service craft of smaller sizes along with old fishing and tugboats on our permitted reef sites. But the Radford is in a league all her own. We were excited from the minute we took title to the ship, because the Radford was always an exceptionally good reefing candidate. We’re also delighted to add this great ex-warship to a mid-Atlantic reef site that’s accessible from ports in three states.”
The destroyer, named for Navy admiral Arthur W. Radford who served as the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was commissioned in 1977 and decommissioned in 2003.