New Jersey Scuba Diving

Shark River Artificial Reef

New Jersey Reefs

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 Sam Berman ( right ) and the Alan Martin ( left ) together.
Not quite twins.


Alan Martin ( left ) and Sam Berman ( right ) under tow.


YO-31 Alan Martin

Shark River Reef

Type:
shipwreck, tanker, US Navy, YO-20 class
Built:
1918, New York NY USA, as YO-31
Specs:
( 161 x 25 ft ) 335 tons light, 911 tons full-load
Sunk:
Thursday September 10, 1987
Sponsor:
Crystal Oil Corporation, Marine Trades Assn. of NJ & the Fisherman Magazine
Depth:
125 ft

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.


A sister


Billy D

Shark River Reef

Type:
shipwreck, tugboat, USA ( US Army )
Built:
1945 - Orlando CA USA, as ST-842, R.J. Wales
Specs:
( 80 x 23 ft )
Sunk:
Sunday July 27, 1997
Sponsor:
Artificial Reef Association
Depth:
125 ft

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.


YW-127 'Mako Mania'

Shark River Reef

Type:
shipwreck, tanker, US Navy YW-83 class
Built:
1945, Surgeon Bay, WI, USA, as YW-127
Specs:
( 165 x 33 ft )
Sunk:
Thursday July 16, 1998
Sponsor:
GPPCBA & Budweiser
Depth:
125 ft

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.

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.

"Mako Mania" is a twin to the "John Dobilas " and the "Captain Bart". See construction for more photos of this class of ship.


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.


YO-??? Sam Berman

Shark River Reef

Type:
shipwreck, tanker, US Navy
Built:
1947, Brooklyn NY USA
Specs:
( 160 x 30 ft )
Sunk:
Thursday September 10, 1987
Sponsor:
Crystal Oil Corporation, Marine Trades Assn. of NJ & the Fisherman Magazine
Depth:
125 ft


Awaiting final disposition, next to the Alan Martin.



Just beginning to sink

Sam Berman is a twin to the "Helis" and the Jet Trader.


Steven McAllister - 'HRFA-NJ'

Shark River Reef

Type:
shipwreck, tugboat, McAllister Towing, USA
Built:
1947 - Oyster Bay NY USA, as Steven McAllister
Specs:
( 98 x 23 ft )
Sunk:
Friday September 22, 2000
Sponsor:
Hudson River Fishermen's Association of New Jersey
Depth:
125 ft

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.


And wait.


And 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.




Disclaimer:

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 © 1996-2015 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted

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