What Does It Take To Prepare A Ship To Be An Artificial Reef?


As you may or may not know, the State of New Jersey has reactivated its Artificial Reef Program and has great plans to dramatically improve the existing Artificial Reefs and to build new ones.  We might all say "It's about time!"

The United States Navy has had hundreds of ships dating from World War II, the Korean War and from Vietnam that have been sitting rotting away in what has been called the "Mothball Fleets."  Just keeping these ancient hulks afloat costs a fortune and ties up many government workers and contractors from doing more productive work.  We need dozens of new powerful ships so it's good that we are saying goodby to these old girls.  They all did their jobs.

So the Navy decided to pare down those "Mothball Fleets" and will clean up and donate most of the old ships to New Jersey's Artificial Reef Program and the Reef Programs of other states.

Yes, there is an ulterior motive here.  Most of New Jersey's Artificial Reefs rest on a sandy bottom.  When heavy objects are put on a sandy ocean bottom, they slowly sink into the sand.  So the Reefs need to be nurtured and fed periodically.  My brother and I donated money back in 2003 in the memory of our parents, fishermen both, to cover the towing costs to take two 200' barges loaded with concrete forms such as culverts, vaults, manholes, etc. that did not meet manufacturing specs, out to Little Egg Reef.  The fishing was superior on that material for over 5 years but today, you can hardly find any of that material above the sand.  This new program came just in time for Long Beach Island fishermen.

We were aided due to the scrap price for scrapping ships for their metals is so low that the Navy quickly saw that Reefing the ships was the most productive and economical choice to get rid of these ships.

The first ships were sunk on New Jersey's Reefs last fall and dozens more will follow.

But did you ever wonder what it took to get a ship ready for Reefing?  There's a well-produced video that will answer that question at How To Make An Artificial Reef.  Who knew it was so complicated?

In addition to sinking dozens of old ships, New Jersey's Artifical Reefs will be the resting place for hundreds of thousands of tons of dredged bedrock that was dredged out of the Delaware River to make the Delaware better able to handle the new and enormous ships that are able to transit the new wider and longer lane of the Panama Canal.  

The Delaware River project cost over $400 Million  and moved huge amounts of hard rock.  The River will be more competitive and our Artificial Reefs will be more fishable. Can't beat that!


Capt. Lindsay Fuller


June Bug Sportfishing


Beach Haven, NJ





June Bug Fishing