Former Army vessel converted to deep-sea art piece

POMPANO BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A ship was sunk several feet underwater off the coast of Pompano Beach to create an artificial reef for both sea creatures and curious divers.

A vessel known as the Okinawa became the newest artificial reef established east of the Pompano Beach Pier, Sunday, after it was sunk by Shipwreck Park, Incorporated in collaboration with the city.

“The vessel is a tug. It was manufactured in 1953. It’s 107-feet-long and though we haven’t been able to get a lot of history of it, we believe it did most of its service work with the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Shipwreck Inc. Chairman Rob Wyre.

The Okinawa will settle about a mile away from Lady Luck, another ship sunk in 2016 to create an artificial reef.

Divers can freely explore the reefs to enjoy the sea life and artistic features.

“Fun for the avid diver and fisherman alike. We’re taking advantage of the fact that she is attracting such a diversity of fish as well,” said Wyre.

Decorated with a 12-foot-tall mermaid and several statues, the Okinawa is an eco-friendly art piece.

“The artificial reef is going to be allowing us an opportunity to take the pressure off the natural reefs,” said Dennis MacDonald, artist for the Okinawa project.

With the pressure off, MacDonald said that natural reef ecosystems will thrive while new ones will soon emerge.

“We’re going to start to see some fish appear. They’re going to start to investigate the environment, they’ll soon be going to be calling it home. We’re going to be watching soft coral growth. We’re going to be watching all kinds of sea growth,” he said.

The Okinawa rests only 70 feet below the surface of the ocean making it accessible to divers of all skill levels.

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