Army-Navy freighter added to artificial reef off the Delaware coast.

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DNREC continued to bolster Delaware’s artificial reef system today by sinking the Reedville, originally a coastal freighter and supply ship, at a reef site 16 miles offshore.

The Reedville was converted to a commercial fishing vessel after military decommissioning and today found another new life as fish habitat and diving attract through DNREC’s artificial reef program.

The sinking of the 180-foot long Reedville was the reef program’s first deployment of a vessel since a retired Chesapeake Bay cruise ship was sunk late last year.

It came after the nationally-publicized and viral-videoed 2018 sinking of the retired Cape May-Lewes ferry Twin Capes onto the Del-Jersey-Land Reef, second only to Reef Site No. 11 as a popular fishing destination.

Because of the ship’s profile featuring a cavernous hold, the Reedville is expected to be a boon to two fish prominent in Delaware inshore waters, black sea bass and tautog. The area where vessels have been sunk does not have suitable habitat for some species.

“We continue to enhance the angling and recreational diving experience in Delaware by expanding our reef system, which includes 14 separate reef sites in the Delaware Bay and along the Atlantic Coast,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “When we sank Twin Capes two years ago as a centerpiece of the system, it was unmatched as an artificial reef for both providing fish habitat and a spectacular dive with its five decks for underwater exploration. Now with the Reedville, we’ve got four reefed vessels of the same class and we are putting it in a place that will be accessible, attract the most fish, and where divers will want to explore, too.”

Reedville joins three other former menhaden boats and onetime military vessels classified as fast-supply coastal freighters now residing on Delaware reefs.

The Reedville is the first such ship to be placed on Reef Site No. 11, better known to anglers as the Redbird Reef because it largely consists of 997 retired New York City “redbird” subway cars. The Redbird Reef covers 1.3 square miles of ocean floor and besides fish habitat created by the subway cars, includes the 215-foot-long Chesapeake Bay cruise ship, 86 US Army tanks, eight tugboats, a fishing trawler, and two barges.

The Reedville’s sinking was carried out by Norfolk, Va.-based marine contractor Coleen Marine.

DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, which oversees the reef program, paid $175,000 in federal Sport Fish Restoration funds to buy Reedville from Coleen Marine after the ship settled onto the Redbird Reef.

Originally a Navy ship then an Army FS (freight and supply)-class vessel, the Reedville in its commercial incarnation was renamed for the hub of the menhaden industry, Reedville, Va., named after Capt. Elijah W. Reed, whose process for extracting fish oil from menhaden in the 19th century earned Reedville (population: 500) the label of the wealthiest town in America.

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