Cranes To Help Reef Foundation With Loading Process

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Reef Foundation has scored a major contribution with the donation of several large cranes, valued at nearly $300,000, to help the organization load tons of material onto barges for its final destination on the artificial reef sites off the coast.

The Ocean City Reef Foundation (OCRF) was established in 1997 by parties interested in supporting artificial reef development off the coast of the resort. For the last 20 years or more, the OCRF has been successful in developing artificial reef sites over a vast area of permitted sites off the Ocean City coast. The work has often been cumbersome with large donations of concrete, steel and other materials laboriously loaded by hand and other means onto barges destined for reef sites off the coast.

This week, however, the OCRF announced a significant donation to expedite the development of artificial reef sites off the Ocean City coast. Fascan International, an exclusive distributor of Fassi articulating cranes, announced it is donating five electric cranes to the OCRF. The five cranes, valued at nearly $300,000, will be used by the OCRF to load reef-building materials onto barges for offloading at the reef sites several miles offshore and in other ways that further the mission of the organization.

OCRF President Captain Monty Hawkins explained the donated cranes will be used to load tons of material onto the barges from land for transport to the offshore reef sites, Currently, much of that work is done by hand or with smaller equipment. Hawkins said the cranes will remain land-based and the offloading of tons of material offshore will continue to be done by hand. Nonetheless, the donation represents a significant contribution to the OCRF.

“We’re overwhelmed by this donation,” said Hawkins. “These cranes will make it easier for us to not only build the aquatic ecosystem, but also stimulate growth for our area in the form of diving, recreational fishing and eco-tourism.”

Reef building materials, which can range from scrap iron and concrete to boats and other vessels, rest on the ocean floor and become the starting point for a reef community. Mussels, sponges and corals use the new material as a foundation to create a living reef which in turn hosts populations of fish, lobsters, crabs and shrimp that feed on the reef and are food for other sea life. As part of the contribution, Fascan dealer Crane Specialists, Inc. of Manheim, Pa., will maintain the cranes to keep them operational while in OCRF’s service.

“We saw an opportunity to match equipment with an organization that needed it,” said Fascan CEO Bernie Faloney, “It’s a great thing when businesses can work together to share resources, especially when it benefits the larger community.”

For the last 20 years, the Ocean City Reef Foundation has been steadily expanding the artificial reef system off the coast of the resort with eight sites ranging from as close to shore as one mile to as far as 20 miles. In that span, the foundation has submerged tons of pieces of material, from old boats to retired military equipment to discarded construction material, enhancing habitat for fish and other sea creatures, which, in turn, has improved offshore fishing for recreational anglers and created new opportunities for diving enthusiasts.

Among the foundation’s larger projects was the acquisition and subsequent sinking of dozens of retired New York City subway cars in 2008.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.