Subway sinkings off Delaware coast come to an end

    Since 2001, more than 1,300 subway cars have been sunk off the coast of Delaware.

    reefSince 2001, more than 1,300 subway cars have been sunk off the coast of Delaware.

    The latest round of 24 cars brings the total number of subway cars that form the Del-Jersey-Land Inshore Reef to nearly 350.  As its multiple-hyphenated name implies, the reef is a cooperative effort between Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland.  The site lies equidistant from Cape May in New Jersey, Ocean City, Maryland and Indian River Inlet, Delaware.

    The subway cars had been retired from New York City, but the supply of old subways cars has run dry, and the program has reached the end, at least for now.

    The artificial reef program manager Jeffrey Tinsman says the subway car recycling effort has been a success.  “This has been our best reefing project in terms of volume of material donated and the value of the donation to our reef program.”  He says, “In taking these subway cars for reefing, we got the cars and also got donated service for cleanup and towing from New York City’s transit authority.”  Before being sunk, the cars are cleaned of all greases and buoyant materials that could be harmful to aquatic life.

    The artificial reef program provides habitat for underwater invertebrates which are a major food source for fish.  The fish then become a big draw for anglers.  Tinsman says the response has been phenomenal.  “We have seen a 300 fold increase  in the number of people of fishing on site 11 or Red Bird Reef, compared to before the subway cars were placed on there.  It’s really been a terrific thing.”  He says the increase in anglers has had a positive impact on tourism in southern Delaware.

    Next up for the reef will be the 563-foot long retired Navy destroyer the U.S. S. Arthur Radford.  When it is sent to the sea floor in August, it will become the largest vessel ever reefed in the Atlantic Ocean.  The ship is currently being prepared for sinking at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.

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