What was once a 553-foot Navy destroyer has become the East Coast’s largest artificial reef. This summer, as tourism and natural resources officials from Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland looked on, the new “reef,” slowly sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The Del-Jersey- Land reef, (named for the three states involved in the project) took about four hours to make its 138-foot descent.
The USS Arthur W. Radford’s final resting place is roughly 28 miles northeast of the Ocean City inlet, midway between the Indian River and Cape May. The Del-Jersey-Land reef is a cooperative venture between the three states to enhance fisheries habitat through decommissioned and retired ships, and railway and subway cars.
“It’s going to be a huge economic boost for Ocean City,” says Erik Zlokovitz, the artificial reef coordinator for DNR. “It is expected to attract bluefish, sea bass, weakfish, sharks and tuna, and that will attract charter fleets.”
The Radford was commissioned in 1977 and held a crew of more than 300. It patrolled Venezuela, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Senegal, Oman, Bahrain, the Azores, Nova Scotia, Italy and Turkey. One of its final missions was deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Radford’s homeport was Norfolk, Va.
The ship was named for Admiral Arthur Radford who served in three wars. He was onboard the USS South Carolina during World War I, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations during World War II and was Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the outbreak of Korean hostilities.
Jill Zarend-Kubatko is the Publication Manager in DNR’s Office of Communication.