The U.S. Navy destroyer ex-USS Arthur W. Radford was recently scuttled off Delaware coast, approximately 26 miles southeast of Indian River Inlet (38* 30.750’N - 074* 30.700’W). The decommissioned warship will now serve as an artificial reef.
The Radford, her hull spanning 563 feet and the longest vessel ever reefed in the Atlantic, was sunk at the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef site. The Del-Jersey-Land reef is a collaborative effort of the three states cited in its name - Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland – and lies equidistant from fishing ports in Indian River (Del.), Cape May (N.J.), and Ocean City (Md.).
After the Navy’s announcement of the Radford’s availability for reefing in January 2008 and a 2½ -year application process, the ship underwent 14 months of preparation by American Marine Group, a Virginia-based marine towing, salvage and reefing contractor.
The company, which has extensive experience reefing ships in the Atlantic, cleaned and prepared the Radford to EPA specifications. Much of her armored hull and other nautical equipment were recycled for reuse.
Funding for the ship’s transportation, cleanup, preparation, sinking and monitoring was shared among the three states and the Navy. Delaware’s portion came from the Sportfish Restoration Program that includes federal excise taxes on fishing and boating equipment in the state.
The destroyer, named for Navy admiral Arthur W. Radford who served as the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was commissioned in 1977 and decommissioned in 2003.