It was quite a sight about 16 miles from Delaware beaches last week as a 180ft floating casino sank to the ocean floor at a depth of 86ft.
The sinking of texas star was intentional – the old ship is the newest addition to the Delaware artificial reef system which already includes a retired Lewes-Cape May ferry, an old menhaden ship and a military freighter/supply ship. The latter was sunk in August 2020 at a site known as Redbird Reef, and this is where the texas star just placed, too.
Redbird Reef covers 1.3 square miles of ocean floor and is also home to 714 retired New York “Redbird” subway cars, a 215-foot-long Chesapeake Bay cruise ship, 86 tanks and armored vehicles, eight tugboats, a fishing trawler and two barges.
The texas star was built in 1977 on a general-purpose supply ship hull. It was a commercial scallop fisher and processor before becoming a floating casino. Now, its third career will be at the bottom of the ocean, as a habitat for marine life.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) worked with Norfolk, Va.-based marine contractor Coleen Marine on the sinking. It has been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard for environmental cleanliness and safety.
Watch video of the sinking of the DNREC below (action resumes around the 2 minute mark):
The three artificial reef vessels sunk in the past three years have become popular fishing spots.
“When we sank Twin Capes four years ago as the centerpiece of Delaware’s artificial reef system, it was second to none, providing fish habitat and spectacular diving with its five decks for underwater exploration. Now anglers, the fish they pursue and divers will all have another new destination,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.
DNREC invested $325,000 in federal sportfishing restoration funds to purchase the texas star of Coleen Marine after the ship settled on the Redbird Reef.
-Meg Walburn Viviano