The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) continued to expand the recreational appeal of Delaware’s famous artificial reef system by sinking the Texas Star, originally outfitted as a floating casino, at a reef site at 16.5 miles off the Delaware coast.
The boat was sunk with readings of 38,40,494/74,43,868 at a depth of 86 feet. Built in 1977 on a general-purpose supply vessel hull, the Texas Star was the last at sea as a commercial scallop catching/processing vessel, finding her third life around 4:20 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 29, as the Fish habitat on the ocean floor was provided by DNREC’s Artificial Reef Program.
The sinking of the 180-foot-long Texas Star marked the third deployment of a reef program vessel in the past three years.
The retired menhaden vessel John S. Dempster Jr. was sunk on the Del-Jersey-Land Reef 26 miles off Indian River Inlet in early 2021, while a former freighter and supply vessel from the navy and later army was renamed Reedville when it also became a menhaden ship. , was sunk at Reef Site No. 11, known as Redbird Reef, in August 2020. All sank after the nationally publicized 2018 sinking of the retired Lewes-Cape May ferry , NJ, Twin Capes on the Del-Jersey-Land Reef, second only to reef site #11 as a popular recreational fishing destination.
“With today’s sinking of the Texas Star on Redbird Reef, one of 14 distinct reef sites in Delaware Bay and along the Atlantic Coast, we continue to improve and expand the experience recreational fishing and diving in Delaware,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “When we sank Twin Capes four years ago as the centerpiece of Delaware’s artificial reef system, it was second to none, providing fish habitat and spectacular diving with its five decks for underwater exploration. Now anglers, the fish they chase, and divers will all have another new destination.
The sinking of the Texas Star was carried out by Norfolk, Va.-based marine contractor Coleen Marine, who has managed numerous reef deployments during the existence of the DNREC Reef Program at many of the 14 artificial reef sites licensed from Delaware. As with all ships DNREC has dispatched earlier, the Texas Star was sunk only after receiving US Environmental Protection Agency and US Coast Guard approvals for cleanliness and safety. environmental safety.
DNREC’s Fish and Wildlife Division, which oversees the reef program, invested $325,000 in federal sport fish restoration funds to purchase the Texas Star from Coleen Marine after the vessel settled on the Redbird reef.
As the newest addition to Delaware’s artificial reef program, the Texas Star joins the Dempster, Reedville, Shearwater, Gregory S. Poole and Atlantic Mist as former commercial fishing vessels now residing on the Delaware artificial reef sites. Shearwater, Poole and Atlantic Mist, which also served as military vessels, are all part of the Del-Jersey-Land Reef, so called because it is roughly equidistant from ports of departure in each of the three states that the name of the reef implies.
The Reedville was the first fishing vessel to be placed on Redbird Reef, so famous because much of its structure consists of 714 retired New York “Redbird” subway cars. Covering 1.3 square miles of ocean floor, other structures at Redbird Reef include a 215-foot-long Chesapeake Bay cruise ship, 86 tanks and armored vehicles, eight tugs, a fishing trawler and two barges.
Also residing on Delaware’s artificial reefs is the longest ship ever to risk on the East Coast, the 585-foot destroyer ex-USS Arthur W. Radford, which was sunk in 2011 on Del-Jersey-Land Reef. The reefs are also home to more than 1,350 retired New York City subway cars that have helped to understand the reef system over the past two decades, including the site where the Texas Star was sunk.
For more information on the Delaware Artificial Reef Program, go to de.gov/artificialreefs.