BALTIMORE, Aug. 11 (UPI) — A decommissioned U.S. Navy destroyer has been sunk off the coast of Maryland to create the east coast’s largest artificial reef.
A marine salvage crew sent the USS Radford to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Tourism and natural resources officials in Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland say they hope the reef, dubbed Del-Jersey-Land for the three states involved in the project, will attract deep-sea fishing charters and divers eager to see it.
“It’s going to be a huge economic boost for Ocean City,” Erik Zlokovitz, artificial reef coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said. “It is expected to attract bluefish, sea bass, weakfish, sharks and tuna, and that will attract our charter fleet.”
A recreational diving charter in Ocean City, Md., is already signing up customers to take part in “an exciting addition to the local and national dive industry,” the Sun reported.
After the Radford was decommissioned and mothballed in Philadelphia, the Navy decided to make it available to artificial reef programs and awarded the Radford to the three states in June 2010 after a 2-1/2-year application process.
One former crew member said he was pleased to see his first and only ship getting a new life.
“It’s good to see that she’ll be used to give fishermen and divers new opportunities,” Al Baughman of Frederick, Md., said. “It’s an honorable ending and a satisfying beginning.”