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Officials one step closer to creating a new wreck dive, artificial reef in California

(DiverWire) – The movement to acquire a ship that would help create a new artificial reef in California coastal waters took a huge step forward this month when a key state agency joined with California Ships to Reefs (CSTR) to request the Maritime Administrations (MARAD) review of 5 ships as to their suitability and availability as donations for reefing. In short, another hurdle has been overcome.


The California Department of Fish and Game sent a letter to MARAD early in June asking the federal agency to determine the suitability and availability of the former US Navy vessel, USS Kawishiwi for reefing purposes. The ship, a decommissioned fast fleet oiler is top choice of CSTR for this project. The State’s willingness to send the request to MARAD signals its readiness to work with CSTR towards its goal of reefing ships along the state’s coastline.

The mission of California Ships to Reefs, a nonprofit organization, is to create a network of artificial reefs along the California coastline which will stimulate new ocean life and generate new revenue for the state with increased diving, fishing and other recreational opportunities. Kawishiwi was identified by the organization as an excellent choice for this purpose.

The California Department of Fish and Game’s Deputy Director, Sonke Mastrup, sent MARAD the letter June 9. Other ships were also suggested as possible alternatives to Kawishiwi, including her sister ships USS Ponchatoula and USS Hassayampa, and the landing ships docks (LSDs) USS Thomaston and USS Point Defiance.

California Ships to Reefs is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation seeking to reef surplus ships as artificial reefs, bringing diving and fishing tourism to local ports in California and enhancing the ocean environment. For further information, please visit the organization’s website at or contact our VP Reef Development, Dean Rewerts at 530-906-6465.

Related Story: Key California Assembly Bill clears the way for more artificial reefs

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