Tugboat to become newest artificial reef offshore Destin-Fort Walton Beach

The vessel that once helped deploy other artificial reefs offshore Destin-Fort Walton Beach, will now become an artificial reef.

This past Friday, Morgan Marine in Freeport, FL. was putting the finishing touches on prepping their tugboat to become the next artificial reef offshore Destin-Fort Walton Beach. 

  • The 75ft vessel was built back in the 1940s, and was used most recently to do a lot of Marine salvage, pulling a bunch of those derelict vessels that may be around the area.
  • The vessel also helped sink other artificial reefs offshore.

“This vessel actually belonged to Morgan Marine,” said Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager for Okaloosa. “They were going through the recertification process with the Coast Guard and some of their new rules made this vessel require a lot of retrofits to bring it back into code.” 

According to Fogg, due to the cost of those retrofits, Morgan Marine decided to donate the vessel to the county to be deployed as an artificial reef. The county is paying for the cleaning and the deployment cost, but the price of the vessel was free. 

This vessel has about 40 feet of relief, and is going to be put in area called “The Boat Yard.” If that name sounds familiar, it’s because two other deployments have already happened there.

“The Boat Yard” location labeled LAARS A

“This taller vessel provides a little bit of relief to the location so that folks can do a dive maybe on the bottom, which is about 119 feet and come up to the top, which will be at about 79-80 feet,” explained Fogg. “It makes it a lot easier to dive and allows you to spend a little more time down there.”

He added that the extra relief will also provide a great location for people to go fishing. 

“You’ll have your amberjack swimming around in the column, you’ll have your snappers and your groupers on the bottom,” said Fogg. “It really is going to be a good site.” 

Because this vessel was actually constructed back in the 40s, it had to go through more screening to make sure that it was okay to go into the environment. Fogg says that before the 1980s, there were PCBs and a lot of lead that was used in the paint and the wiring. 

“We had to test the paint to make sure that it was okay,” said Fogg. “We got the results back and everything is good to go. We also had to make sure that there are plenty of holes cut into the floor so that if marine life were to find their way into the vessel, they can find their way out. The holes also allow the vessel to sink in a more even rate.”

Until about a year-and-a-half ago, the Coastal Resource Team had not had very many vessel deployments. This tugboat will actually be the fourth vessel deployment that Alex and his team have done the last year-and-a-half.

“We still have a few more on the books,” he said. “Being able to deploy these large wrecks, it creates a unique habitat. It’s not your normal concrete modules that have been deployed for many years now, and provides a great location for people to go diving and fishing too.” 

As the Coastal Resource Team announces the deployment date, we will announce it here on Get The Coast.

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