New Jersey Scuba Diving
Sandy Hook Artificial Reef
1.6 nautical miles off Sea Bright
The Sandy Hook reef has only a few small vessels sunk on it, although it does encompass several interesting shipwrecks. Instead, the northernmost of New Jersey's Artificial Reefs is composed of thousands of tons of construction debris and dredge spoils from New York City. The marks on the chart above do not correspond to actual locations - there's just too much of it to plot ! Minimum clearance at mean low water is 30 feet.
The pink area on the chart is the "Full Access Zone". This is the area where commercial fishermen will continue to be allowed to set their traps and lines as of 2015.
Lockwood sailboat - photos courtesy William J Lockwood
Not shown on the chart is the Lockwood, a 40' sailboat sunk circa 1991 in the southern part of the reef. The unfinished ferro-cement hull was donated and named after the Lockwood Marina and Boat Works in South Amboy. The Lockwood has probably broken up and sunk into the sand, as recent efforts to locate it have not been successful. It may also have been crushed under a rock drop.
Visibility is usually poor on the way down, but can get better near the bottom, where it is dark and cold. See the Macedonia for a more detailed description of diving conditions here. The Sandy Hook Reef is one of the oldest artificial reef sites in New Jersey. Reef-building activities at this site date back to 1937.
Rock and Concrete Rubble
Concrete rubble is concentrated in the north, along with a sunken barge. The southern part of the reef is mostly dumped dredge rock, sort of an extension to the Shrewsbury Rocks. There is so much rock and rubble in the Sandy Hook Reef that I could not even begin to put it all on the chart. The markings are merely indicators of the general dispersion of the material.
Side-scan sonar image of a single drop of dredge rock from a split hopper barge. The dredge rock is the product of a massive harbor-improvement program in New York. Most of it should therefore be granite.
Many such hopper-barge drops, some of them overlapping.
With concrete or other dense materials that tend to sink into the sea floor, the Reef Program tries to pile such structure on top of itself to ensure that some is left protruding from the sand. This is why they may focus drops from 10 or 20 barge-loads of concrete on one spot. Twenty years from now, concrete slabs will still project up from a foundation of other concrete that has since subsided into the sandy sea floor.
Concrete rubble is placed on the Sandy Hook Reef. New York City is an inexhaustible source of material like this.
Concrete slabs, probably from a bridge.
Side-scan sonar image of concrete slabs, pilings, and debris.
Concrete reef material colonized by marine organisms and fish
- shipwreck, barge
- ( 45 x 20 ft )
- Coleman Construction Company
- Tuesday June 27, 1989
- 40°21.060' -73°56.125'
- 50 ft
The Coleman is a rather small rectangular steel barge. The decking plates were removed prior to sinking, leaving a skeleton framework that is very interesting to explore. A large pile of concrete rubble lies next to and partially on the barge, to the northwest. It is perhaps 150 ft across, and rises up 10 ft off the bottom. This rubble has some very colorful encrustations, as well as many small fishes, and is shallow enough to be cheerfully lit by the sun, unusual in this vicinity.
As usual in this reef, I saw practically no lobsters, even in the likeliest holes. The old-timers tell me they're there, but you can't prove it by me. The barge, however, was inhabited by a great many big fat Blackfish. The bottom is clean sand.
The Coleman barge was sunk by simply pushing it under with the accompanying tugboat.
Dorothy & V.L. Keegan
- shipwreck, tugboat ( cut into pieces )
- ( 65 ft )
- Spectra Services
- Saturday June 3, 1989
- 40°21.555' -73°56.103'
- 60 ft
- tanker ( cut into pieces ) - Spentonbush Company, USA ( Hess Oil )
- 1932, Brooklyn NY USA (Bushey Yard)
- ( 110 ft )
- Spectra Services
- Saturday June 3, 1989
- 40°21.525' -73°56.110'
- 60 ft
V.L. Keegan was built in 1932, by Ira S. Bushey and Sons of Brooklyn, New York for Spentonbush Fuel Transport, Incorporated. She was acquired by the United States Navy where she was designated YO-166 during World War II. The unit was later acquired by the Eklof Marine Corporation of Staten Island, New York where she was named back to V.L. Keegan.
Both the Keegan and the Dorothy sank at a dock in the Raritan River, and were cut up in-place and loaded onto a barge prior to reefing.
A bow lies on a sand and pebble bottom, inclined 45 degrees to starboard, sticking up perhaps 12-15 ft, with the decking gone. Surrounding it is a field of twisted metal wreckage. The visibility on the bottom was not bad, although the entire site was dark, even in daylight. There are only a few small lobsters, and the wreck is infested with Bergalls, but little else.
I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.
Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted