Forty-three years after it was christened on the Delaware Bay, the 2,100-ton, 320-foot-long Twin Capes ferry was sunk on Friday just before noon, allowing it to become part of Delaware’s artificial reef system as its “crowning jewel.”
As recalled by CBS Philadelphia, Twin Capes was previously part of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry fleet before it was decommissioned, and when it was christened in 1975, it was one of the first three vessels of the Delaware River and Bay Authority’s fleet in the 1970s. It was then upgraded in the 1990s, gaining a variety of new features, including several lounges, a pilot house, “shark-fin” smokestacks, and decks.
According to NJ.com, the ferry became the sixth vessel included in the artificial Del-Jersey-Land reef, as it joined a number of well-known military vessels, as well as over 300 New York City subway cars.
With the Twin Capes now included in Delaware’s artificial reef system, the newly sunk ferry will provide “extraordinary” opportunities for deep-sea diving, while also enhancing marine habitats for fish and other forms of underwater life through the new features that were added in the 1990s, according to a press release posted on Delaware.gov. Several types of fish, including tuna, bluefish, flounder, cod, and black sea bass, and even some sharks and barracudas, have been drawn to the artificial reefs, and officials believe that Twin Capes will help bring even more fish to the area.
“This will really be the crowning jewel,” read a statement from Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control artificial reef coordinator Jeff Tinsman.
“Just the way it is built. The entire vessel has such a high profile that it is going to provide plenty of food for fish to feed on as well as protecting them from predators and storms.”
The sinking was facilitated by Norfolk, Virginia marine contractor Coleen Marine, which had previously purchased the ferry from the DRBA in 2017 for use in the artificial reef system. As further noted by Delaware.gov, Twin Capes joined historical ships such as the Zuni/Tamaroa, a ship that had survived the Battle of Iwo Jima and served as a U.S. Coast Guard cutter for close to five decades, and the U.S.S. Arthur W. Radford, which, at 568-feet-long, was the longest ship reefed on the East Coast at the time it was sunk in 2011.
While it is considerably shorter than the Radford at only 320-feet-long, officials believe that the Twin Capes has the potential to be the “best addition” to Delaware’s artificial reef system for diving, regardless whether it’s for fishing or recreational purposes.
Going forward, Tinsman expects that the Twin Capes will remain on the ocean floor for “at least a century,” as it continues providing shelter and food for marine life. He added that more vessels will likely be sunk in the future, though it will all depend on which ships become available.