15.6 Nautical Miles off Manasquan
The Shark River reef is tucked into a corner between the Mud Hole and the Barnegat shipping lane, which happens to be in close proximity to the wreck of the Stolt Dagali. It has a minimum depth for navigational purposes of 50 ft ( 8 fathoms ) at mean low water. Shark River is the deepest of all New Jersey reef sites, with an average bottom depth of 125 ft, although scour holes around larger vessels may be much deeper.
Take a submarine trip around the Shark River Reef via side-scan sonar
Side-scan sonar animation courtesy of:
/ Army Corps of Engineers
This reef got off to a big start, with three tankers sunk in one day - the Coney Island first, and then the "twins" Sam Berman and Alan Martin. The Shark River Reef is often referred to as "the parking lot" by charter boat operators. In addition to the vessels shown, Shark River Reef also contains a great deal of rock and rubble.
Side-scan sonar mosaic of the Shark River Reef, showing the partially-built rock ridges
along the top, the Coney Island at lower right and the massive Algol at center, along
with various other wrecks and concrete drops. The Captain Bart is visible just below
the rock ridges, the APL-31 is NNW of the Algol, and the Alan Martin / Sam Berman
duo is NW of the Coney Island. The tiny HRFA is just a speck among the concrete
mounds, and the Mako Mania is visible south of the Algol.
Mosaic image courtesy of SAIC.
The Alan Martin was built in 1918 by Todd Shipbuilding Corp, and stationed at Guam during World War II. Now lying on its port side, largely intact. Minimum depth is about 105 ft.
The Alan Martin, tied up next to the Sam Berman.
the Billy D being raised from the
Shrewsbury River by an enormous
The abandoned Billy D sank twice over the winter in the Shrewsbury River ( spilling a great deal of diesel fuel and other pollutants ) before it was towed out and sunk as the latest and smallest addition to the Shark River artificial reef. Even after cleaning, the decrepit old tug was deemed too contaminated to sink in inshore waters. So it was towed out to the offshore reef, but couldn't manage to stay afloat for the whole trip, and sank before reaching the intended reef site. It has since been picked up and moved into the reef.
Today the top of the wreck is at about 90-100 ft, and can be penetrated through any of the side doors ( visible in the picture above. ) the superstructure shows obvious ice damage. The engine room and lower compartments look accessible from here, although I didn't try it.
Sea life is starting to take hold, although there is not yet a thick covering as on the older reef wrecks. I picked up a couple of scallops on the deck, but a complete search around the hull turned up only the usual fishes - Sea Bass and ling especially - but no bugs. There were also quite a few Sea Ravens on the wreck, including a bright yellow one. The wreck is fouled with quite a bit of rope and netting, although nothing dangerous, and also some monofilament. Obviously, the hook-and-line folks know where this wreck is, but the draggers do not !
Ironically, the Billy D was once used by the artificial reef program to tow other vessels
out to their final resting places. Here, it moves the Car Float barge.
This small tanker was built to carry (of all things) salt water. This was used to test the desalination plants of other vessels in port, where salt water might not be readily available. It is probably a good idea to make sure your desalination plant works before leaving on a long ocean voyage. She was YW-127, a tanker configuration identical to what where also known as "YO"s, small tankers / lighters which carried oil or gasoline. The designation "YW" signifies that she was a water carrier. YW-127 was placed in reserve in 1980, and stricken from the Navy register in 1994, and had been tied up at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for years before being selected for use as an artificial reef.
Explosive charges go off, opening holes in the hull.
Note the Budweiser banner just behind the bridge.
The ship fills with water and sinks. People on police boat give scale.
The bow hits the bottom,
and the ship settles on an even keel.
Rechristened the "Mako Mania" for the fishing tournament that partially sponsored it, the ship now lies upright and intact as New Jersey's 102nd reef vessel. The stern house is at 85 ft depth, while the bow is dug in slightly at 115 ft. The bottom is presently at 125 ft, but expect that to increase somewhat as the hull settles and currents scour out a depression around it.
Anything of value was stripped from the hulk prior to sinking - so there are no portholes, valves, etc. The cargo holds are filled with huge earth-mover tires and will someday be lobster heaven. The rest of the ship can be penetrated through two large skylights near the stack. The smokestack itself is capped off and was painted with black and yellow tiger stripes.
A deck cleat, with tow ropes still attached.
Some empty portholes ( taken on the day of sinking. )
"Artifact" recovered by the first group to dive the new reef.
Historical details courtesy of diver Alex George.
Awaiting final disposition, next to the Alan Martin.
Just beginning to sink
This tug now lies upright with a slight list to starboard on a hard sand bottom. The top of the wreck is at a depth of 90 ft while the main deck is at 110 ft. The engine was removed prior to sinking.
The Steven McAllister being towed into position
by the Mary L McAllister.
With the sea cocks open, there is nothing to do but wait.
The crew of the Mary L McAllister hosed water into the wreck
for hours, trying to speed things up.
Finally, moments before sinking, the Mary L unties and moves away.
In the end, the "HRFA" sank so fast that I didn't even get a shot of it !
these were taken by Captain Steve Nagiewicz of the Diversion II.
It took less than a minute for the old tug to roll over and sink.