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AR165: Artificial reef eight miles off Oregon Inlet nearing completion

In early December, about 3500 ton of concrete pipe joined two tugs and another 4000 tons of pipe that now make up artificial reef AR165. A five-year-long process is slowly seeing its finish line.

Construction of the new artificial reef, about eight nautical miles south-southeast of Oregon Inlet, started in January 2020. The Coastland Times headed out to sea with the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee (OIARC) of the Outer Banks Anglers Club to watch as the first of three tugboats was sunk to start comprising the reef.

Retired Judge J. Richard “Dick” Parker, who co-chairs OIARC with Brian Forbes, went out to watch the additional 3500 tons of concrete pipe be added to the site. “They had three front ends loaded on the barge,” Parker began, “and I watched them pick it up and push all that concrete over the side.” Parker said from start to finish, the additional 3500 tons of concrete pipe took between six and seven hours to sink.

The reef is situated in 67 to 72 feet of water in an area of about 162 acres. This is similar to most of the other reefs in the state’s network. Circular in shape, AR165 has a diameter of about 3000 ft. and is now made up of 7500 tons of concrete. 4000 more tons are expected to be added.

“Still have one more tug to go,” said Forbes. Tugboat American and the America have already been submerged, and he Valley Forge will be the last the makeup AR165. All three tugboats are coming from Coleen Marine Inc. in Norfolk, Va.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the project this year, as Parker noted he has had to extend his contract with Coleen Marine so they can have more time to prepare the ships. “It’s taken them longer than they thought,” Parker said. “The Valley Forge probably won’t be sunk until 2021.”

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