On Thursday, April 9, another decommissioned tugboat was purposely sent to the bottom of the ocean in a continuing effort to boost the Outer Banks’ newest artificial reef, AR-165.
The new artificial reef is sponsored by the Outer Banks Anglers Club, and the ensuing reef, (which is located roughly 7.5 miles off of Oregon Inlet), will provide exceptional fishing grounds for anglers who are somewhat close to shore.
The project has been in the works for roughly seven years, and the reef is being bolstered with discarded material from the old Bonner Bridge, which is in the process of being demolished, as well as several old tugboats which will serve a new role as structural additions to the reef site.
“We still have one more tug and approximately 3,250 tons of concrete to add to the site in the coming months,” said Brian Forbes of the Outer Banks Anglers Club in an emailed update.
The tugboat that was sunk on Thursday was the decommissioned America – a 1956 ship docking tug that was operated primarily for reef tows in its later years. The tug was ironically employed for several notable reef projects, which includes towing the Ex-USS Kittiwake from Norfolk, V.A. to Grand Cayman.
In late January, several dozen representatives from the Outer Banks Anglers Club, as well regional media outlets, took a trip offshore to watch the sinking of tugboat American at the reef site, which was built in Baltimore, M.D., in 1951, and was retired from use in 2012.
The Outer Banks Anglers Club received an $882,000 state grant to build the reef, which stemmed from the sale of coastal recreational fishing licenses, as well as from donations for the project, including a substantial $20,000 contribution from TW’s Bait & Tackle. More materials will be added in the months to come as the Outer Banks’ newest reef continues to grow, resulting in more fishing opportunities close to the coastline.