Marine Fisheries Artificial Reef Program sinks vessel off Topsail


The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program, in partnership with the Brian Davis Artificial Reef Memorial, sank a 180-foot vessel today in Southern Onslow Bay.

The Brian Davis is a memorial vessel, named in honor of a diver who lost his life in a diving accident several years ago. The Brian Davis is located at AR-368, which is about 15 miles from Topsail Inlet and 18 miles from Masonboro Inlet. This project was funded by donations from the diving community as well as Coastal Recreational Fishing License funds.

The Brian Davis is a 180-foot Iris class buoy tender, originally commissioned by the US Coast Guard and named Salvia. The vessel was constructed in 1943 and began work in the Great Lakes as an icebreaker in 1944. The vessel served in Portsmouth, Virginia during World War II and was moved to Alabama after the war where she remained until decommissioned in 1991.

The tug was cleaned of environmental pollutants in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations prior to reefing. Its placement leaves a navigational clearance of approximately 20 feet. The division plans to sink some large reef balls and concrete pipe at the site later this fall.

GPS coordinates for AR-368 are: 34° 09.514’ N, 77° 25.782’ W.

The ship sinking project cost $268,000. The Davis Family, through fundraising, donated $65,000 towards the vessel. The remaining $203,000 was funded by a Coastal Recreational Fishing License grant.

An artificial reef is a manmade underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom. In North Carolina, they serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.

The division maintains 68 artificial reefs, located from estuarine waters to 38 miles from shore. They are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.

For more information, about the program or the vessel sinking, contact Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Jordan Byrum at 252-808-8036 or

View video of the ship sinking here.


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