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144-ft ‘casino boat’ to be sunk as new artificial reef off Destin-Fort Walton Beach coast

The Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners has approved a $450,000 contract with Tri-Native Contractors Inc. for acquiring and preparing the 144-foot MV FANTASEA, a retired casino boat, to be sunk as an artificial […]

Source: Alex Fogg

The Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners has approved a $450,000 contract with Tri-Native Contractors Inc. for acquiring and preparing the 144-foot MV FANTASEA, a retired casino boat, to be sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

This is the fourth vessel the county has worked with Tri-Native on. They provided, cleaned and towed the MANTA, DOLPHIN and DEEP STIM.

“As with all of our artificial reef deployments, this vessel will provide essential new habitat for numerous fish species and an exciting new dive site for scuba divers and fishermen,” said Alex Fogg, Okaloosa Coastal Resource Manager. “Adding new reefs enables us to continue boosting Destin-Fort Walton Beach’s reputation as a premier fishing and diving destination in Florida.”

The Board approved reallocating a portion of funds originally budgeted for the RV DEEP STIM III artificial reef project, which came in significantly under budget at one-third the projected cost thanks to a tri-county partnership and involvement by other community partners such as Coastal Conservation Association, Emerald Coast Reef Association and the South Walton Artificial Reef Association.

According to the contract, Tri-Native Contractors will fully clean and prepare the FANTASEA to meet all state and federal environmental standards for artificial reefs. This includes removing all hazardous fluids and materials, cleaning tanks and bilges, and scraping flaking paint for land disposal. The hull, propeller, shaft and superstructure will remain intact.

  • The company will also coordinate with a specialty marine contractor to cut holes for controlled flooding and even sinking. The total deployment cost is estimated around $65,000, which the county is seeking partnership funding for. 

Walter Marine will complete the deployment adding to their resume of dozens of large vessels and tens of thousands of prefabricated reef modules being deployed throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

“The FANTASEA fits the design we are looking for to create interesting dive sites offshore Destin-Fort Walton Beach,” added Fogg. “With numerous swim throughs and a high profile, we expect this to be another popular site not only for fishers and divers, but also for fish! While this isn’t the first casino boat to be deployed off our coast, this is the largest and a more modern design which will last much longer.”

The FANTASEA is currently projected to be deployed later this year, providing a new diving and fishing site as well as spurring tourism and economic activity for the area.

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Community Comments

“Would like to know this as well.”
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“This is Awesome/ Thank You for Your Service Reuse an Recycle”
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“Carolyn, there is two of them this year, the one at the fairgrounds is still on the 27th”
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“I thought this was scheduled for April 27th at Fair grounds in FWB.”
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“Is there a limit on the amount?”
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“Couldn’t the tennis courts be used for Pickle Ball Courts?”
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“How come we haven't heard about any charges or anything about the person who hit this lady ?”
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“Stayed at the Calypso resort last week. Overran with immaturity. Teens were throwing beer bottles from the balcony and dog shit while kids were swimming in the pools below.”
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