Fifty-Foot Tugboat Ready to Become South Carolina’s Latest Reef

Latest project off McClellanville adds to CCA South Carolina’s artificial reef network.

The marine ecosystem off South Carolina is set to get another boost this week with the placement of a 50-foot tugboat 6-8 miles out from McClellanville in the same area where the South Carolina Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association (CCA SC) launched its ambitious offshore reefing program 10 years ago. For this latest project, CCA SC partnered with bp, Shimano North America Fishing, Inc. and the Building Conservation Trust – the national habitat program of CCA – to clean up the old tugboat and turn it into a thriving new reef.

“We are really excited to return to the site where our offshore habitat program really got started and build it into a robust marine habitat that not only covers a large area but also provides a lot of height and intricate cover to what was a barren zone,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA SC. “This will be our third tugboat in this site and given its close proximity to the coast, it provides an awesome destination for anglers and divers. We are truly grateful to the support of our partners for making this latest project possible.”

In a surprisingly short period of time, visitors to the new habitat area can expect to find several popular gamefish including black sea bass, cobia, kingfish and even flounder utilizing the new structure.

“bp is pleased to join CCA in bringing new life to an old tugboat and providing an artificial reef that will help prevent coastal erosion off the coast of South Carolina,” said Orlando Alvarez, bp’s Senior Vice President of Gas & Power Trading Americas and a member of the BCT Board of Directors. “Projects like this support the environment and the economy, boost marine ecosystems and provide a haven for divers and anglers.”

The tug will lie in about 50 feet of water, and in order to get the necessary clearance to the surface of the ocean, the top section of the wheelhouse was removed and welded to the front deck, giving it a custom appearance without wasting any of the valuable hard structure. The tug is the 13th offshore reef that CCA SC has helped deploy off the state’s coast since it launched its habitat campaign in 2011 and there are already plans for several more later this year and in 2022. The chapter is also actively involved in inshore reefing and oyster shell recycling, among other efforts aimed at enhancing South Carolina’s coastal environment.

“We are proud of what we have accomplished in our first decade of habitat enhancement and proud of the partners that share our vision for marine conservation,” said Whitaker. “We look forward to creating many more reefs and building the offshore marine ecosystem off South Carolina so that current and future generations can enjoy our amazing coastal resources.”