200-Foot Barge Sunk To Grow Offshore Artificial Reef System

200-Foot Barge Sunk To Grow Offshore Artificial Reef System
A barge is pictured being sunk Wednesday after being transported from Curtis Bay in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of the Ocean City Reef Foundation

OCEAN CITY — Against the backdrop of crystal blue skies and clean, clear water, Ocean City Reef Foundation crews on Wednesday sunk a 200-foot barge loaded with concrete pipes about nine miles off the resort coast.

After months of preparation and planning, the Ocean City Reef Foundation (OCRF) on Wednesday afternoon sunk the barge, which began its trip to its final destination on Monday from Curtis Bay in Baltimore. The 200-foot hopper barge was previously in the service of McLean Marine Contracting. It was generously donated to the OCRF by Dan and Laura Crocker of Sage Financial, although many of the foundation’s contributors pitched in on what was an expensive project.

The barge was towed from Curtis Bay on Monday through the C&D Canal and to Ocean City, where it arrived on Wednesday. It was loaded with 220 tons of concrete pipe, which will crust over and create a great addition to the Bass Grounds and the growing artificial reef system off the coast of Ocean City.

OCRF crews anchored the barge about nine miles offshore with four 100-pound anchors. It put up a good fight for a while, but the ocean started washing over her around 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday. Shortly after 4 p.m., the barge succumbed to the ocean floor after being filled by Maryland Coast Towing’s pumps.

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. Throughout the year, the foundation continues to add tons of new material to the growing artificial reef network off Ocean City’s coast.

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.