scubadiving.com — While the passage of two California laws have helped clear a path to bring the USS Kawishiwi – a decommissioned 655‐ foot Neosho-class fleet oiler ‐ closer to becoming an artificial reef outside the Dana Point Harbor in Southern California, a spokesperson for the project said it could take a minimum of two years before the vessel is sunk.
Former Dana Point mayor Joel Bishop ‐ who brought the project to the city council in 2008, after hearing a presentation about artificial reefing from nonprofit California Ships to Reefs (CSTR) ‐ said the current timetable includes a year to obtain all the permits, and another year for the vessel to be stripped and cleaned. Former Kawishiwi crewmembers have provided important information about the vessel’s make‐up and have endorsed the idea as well.
At the end of last year, CSTR applied to the California State Lands Commission to study three areas of the state where decommissioned ships could potentially be turned into artificial reefs, with the Kawishiwi tapped for Orange County.
Since California has no artificial-reef program set up, Bishop said that CSTR is looking to establish a lead agency, which would then work with the other agencies instead of applying to each one separately. HCMS Yukon, which was sunk in San Diego waters more than a decade ago, generates more than $4 million per year for the local economy, according to CSTR.
Once it settles on the ocean floor, the Kawishiwi will become the second‐ largest ship‐based reef in the U.S., surpassing the USS Vandenberg (523 feet), reefed off the coast of Key West.
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