Sinking of the Valley Forge to become an artificial reef. Video: DMF
The Valley Forge, a 108-foot tugboat, was sunk Friday off Oregon Inlet as part of the state Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program, in partnership with the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee, the division announced Monday.
The Valley Forge is a 108-foot firefighting tugboat, originally commissioned by the U.S. Army and constructed in 1954. It served for many decades, undergoing a refit in the 1990s. The tug was later decommissioned and put up for auction in 2012.
The Valley Forge joins tugboats, the America and the American at the site AR-165, located about 7 miles southeast of Oregon Inlet. The site contains about 7,200 tons of recycled concrete pipe. GPS coordinates are 35 degrees 41 minutes north and 75 degrees 26 minutes west.
An artificial reef is a manmade underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, that serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.
The Valley Forge was cleaned of environmental pollutants in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, and Army Corps of Engineers regulations prior to reefing.
Its placement leaves a navigational clearance of around 20 feet. The division plans to sink some large reef balls and concrete pipe at the site later this year.
The site, AR-165, was established and all materials placed as part of a Coastal Recreational Fishing License grant awarded to the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee.
The division maintains 68 artificial reefs, located from estuarine waters to 38 miles from shore. They are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.
For more information about the program or the vessel sinking, contact Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Jordan Byrum at 252-808-8036 or Jordan.Byrum@ncdenr.gov.