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Thread: Help with artificial reef ship design

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    RBW Member sea_ledford is an unknown quantity at this point sea_ledford's Avatar
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    Help with artificial reef ship design

    I work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Artificial Reef Program, and I'm looking for some opinions on artificial reef wreck diving.

    We are about to publish the Request for Proposals for our ship reef project. This is a partially NRDA (Deepwater Horizion) funded project, and as such we are locked into some of the specs we initially submitted for the project. We are looking for a 300' plus ship to sink at OCS block HI-A-424, which is about 60 miles offshore of Galveston, TX toward the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

    The water depth is 135', and we have a 60' clearance approval from the US Coast Guard, which means we can't have any structure shallower than 60'.

    Give the size of vessel we are looking for, we will likely get two main ready-to-reef configurations:

    3) For very large ships (ie ~500' LOA or bigger) we will have the primary bulk of the hull come close to our clearance depth. That would provide a lot of ship to explore at relatively shallow depths. It would also require us to remove most of the superstructure, so no bridge, captains quarters, radio room, etc that are all toward the upper levels of a ship. It could also be a cargo ship, which would end up with a good portion of the dive site being cargo holds, but would have quite a bit of explorable areas at the bow and stern.

    4) A smaller ship that we can leave the superstructure attached, but the bulk of the ship would be in the 100' + range. The shallow portion of the ships superstructure would be smallish, and potentially not large enough to keep one entertained on a longer dive that the shallow depths allow. Depending on the overall height of the ship, we may still have to remove the bridge, but not all of the superstructure.

    The nice thing is deep and deco divers will have a great site regardless of which way we go, it's for the shallower group that we are trying to figure out which is the best way to go.

    If it were up to you, which configuration would you prefer? Why?


    And just to direct the conversation a little more, a military vessel is pretty much out of the question.

    Thanks for your input!

    -Chris

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    Re: Help with artificial reef ship design

    We have a local-ish dive wreck, the former HMAS Swan, a frigate that's sitting on the bottom in 100' with the crows nest at about 40'. I mention it because how it gets dived may help you.

    Open water divers (60' limit) can stay within their limits diving the bridge, maybe one deck below, and some of the superstructure behind the bridge. Advanced divers (100' limit) can pretty much go anywhere - there are only a couple of places where there isn't sunlight visible after all the holes were blown in the wreck. Deco divers get to spend more time lower.

    That's the theory, anyway. What happens is quite something different. Open water divers on commercial boats with a guide get shepherded around the top but, if there's no guide or a guide who's a little relaxed, at least half will go to the bottom or at least the main companionway at 80'. We've seen guys fresh out of an open water course hit the bottom, swim around, and wonder what all those new exciting numbers on their computers mean and why they get back to the surface with 10 bar remaining and a computer telling them "NO DIVE".

    At 60' clearance, you basically need to call it "advanced and above" which cuts out the open water certs entirely. But if you don't have a significant amount of penetrable structure above 100', you're going to get a lot of AOW divers blasting past their training limit for the good stuff. Which is less than ideal.

    OTOH you're saying to get that, you need to lose the bridge etc which for many is the best part of the wreck. I can see your dilemna!

    One thought: is it possible to cut the superstructure off a larger vessel and drop it next to the main wreck?

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    RBW Member mick4707 is an unknown quantity at this point mick4707's Avatar
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    Re: Help with artificial reef ship design

    Smaller wreck and cut holes in the upper decks and no holes on the lower decks. The local scuttled wreck we have has so many holes in it that it makes a bit of a boring dive. There is only one section at the stern that is a slight challenge.

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    New Member JOHNNY4FISH is an unknown quantity at this point JOHNNY4FISH's Avatar
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    Re: Help with artificial reef ship design

    who is going to sit on a boat for 60 miles to do 2 dives on a fake wreck?

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    RBW Member sea_ledford is an unknown quantity at this point sea_ledford's Avatar
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    Re: Help with artificial reef ship design

    Quote Originally Posted by JOHNNY4FISH  View Original Post
    who is going to sit on a boat for 60 miles to do 2 dives on a fake wreck?
    Anglers and people on liveaboards most likely.

    The last big ship we did was only 17 miles offshore, but it is off of South Padre Island and everyone complained it was too far of a drive. We did one about 8 miles off of Corpus Christi, but it's really too close to shore to get good visibility very often.

    Can't do anything about Gulf coast geography or geology.

    -Chris

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    RBW Member sea_ledford is an unknown quantity at this point sea_ledford's Avatar
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    Re: Help with artificial reef ship design

    Quote Originally Posted by mick4707  View Original Post
    Smaller wreck and cut holes in the upper decks and no holes on the lower decks. The local scuttled wreck we have has so many holes in it that it makes a bit of a boring dive. There is only one section at the stern that is a slight challenge.
    That is what I would LIKE to do. Whether the lawyers get on board with that will be a different matter all together.

    -Chris
    Last edited by sea_ledford; 10th December 2015 at 17:25.

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    RBW Member tripntx is an unknown quantity at this point tripntx's Avatar
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    Re: Help with artificial reef ship design

    Quote Originally Posted by JOHNNY4FISH  View Original Post
    who is going to sit on a boat for 60 miles to do 2 dives on a fake wreck?


    Those near Galveston & Freeport routinely go out 20-40 miles out regularly. I make it once or twice a year 20-25 miles offshore to dive rigs in 100' foot with 40-60' visibility. I'd love to go dive Stetson Bank & the Flower Gardens routinely but the MV Fling will not allow divers to bring rebreathers aboard on non-chartered trips.


    I dove my P2 under a rig 20 miles out a couple of months ago. We had 60' visibility and calm seas.

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    RBW Member tripntx is an unknown quantity at this point tripntx's Avatar
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    Re: Help with artificial reef ship design

    Quote Originally Posted by sea_ledford  View Original Post
    That is what I would LIKE to do. Whether the lawyers get on board with that will be a different matter all together.

    -Chris


    Sink a few of these please: MODUs
    https://www.google.com/search?q=mobi...HcgQD3YQsAQIMA

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