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Artificial Reef Program sinks vessel off Topsail

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program, in partnership with the Brian Davis Artificial Reef Memorial, sank a 180-foot vessel Friday in Southern Onslow Bay.

A 180-foot vessel was sunk Friday about 15 miles from Topsail Island to be an artificial reef.

The state Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program, in partnership with the Brian Davis Artificial Reef Memorial, sank the 180-foot Iris class buoy tender at Artificial Reef-368 in Southern Onslow Bay, 18 miles from Masonboro Inlet.

There is a navigational clearance of about 20 feet at the site and the division plans to sink large reef balls and concrete pipe later this fall.

The Brian Davis, originally commissioned by the Coast Guard and named Salvia, is a memorial vessel named in honor of a diver who lost his life in a diving accident several years ago, according to the division.

The ship-sinking project cost $268,000. Davis’ family, through fundraising, donated $65,000 toward the vessel and $203,000 was funded by a Coastal Recreational Fishing License grant.

Brian Davis Memorial Artificial Reef is located 15 miles from Topsail Inlet. Map: Brian Davis Memorial Artificial Reef website

The vessel was built in 1943 and was used in the Great Lakes as an icebreaker in 1944. The vessel served in Portsmouth, Virginia, during World War II and was moved to Alabama after the war, where the vessel remained until decommissioned in 1991.

Before the tug was sunk, environmental pollutants were removed to meet Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers regulations. GPS coordinates for AR-368 are 34.09514, -77.25782.

Artificial reefs serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.

The division maintains 68 artificial reefs, located from estuarine waters to 38 miles from shore. They are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.

For more information, about the program or the vessel sinking, contact Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Jordan Byrum at 252-808-8036 or Jordan.Byrum@ncdenr.gov.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.