HII announced this week that its Newport News Shipbuilding division has donated a former dry dock caisson gate, giving it new life as part of an artificial reef.
Caisson gates are used at the harbor end of a dry dock, with pipes inside allowing for water from the James River to enter when NNS needs to flood the dry dock. This particular gate, originally put into service at NNS in 1967, was part of a dry dock no longer in use at the shipyard.
NNS crews worked to prepare the caisson gate, ensuring that it was environmentally ready to take on its new mission. That included stripping all loose paint, removing electrical items and ensuring all oils and solvents were removed. The gate was also ballasted for sinking to ensure it landed on the seabed properly.
In late June, the gate left NNS, was towed offshore and sunk. It’s now taking on a new life as part of the Virginia Marine Resource Commission’s Tower Reef, which is already home to multiple barges, other vessels and subway cars.
According to NNS senior dock master John Anderson who spearheaded the project:
“Donating this caisson gate to give it a new purpose was a natural choice for us. We understand that nurturing and protecting our oceans isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense as we serve our customer, shipbuilders and community.”
The donation directly supports the US state of Virginia’s artificial reef program, which aims to replicate natural fish habitats as closely as possible and increase fishing opportunities for anglers.
VMRC Commissioner Jamie Green, a strong proponent for the program, explained:
“VMRC has been building and enhancing reefs for citizens of the commonwealth for over 40 years. We are excited to partner with NNS to utilize material that has such a rich history with the Hampton Roads area.”
(Featured image credit: Lexi Whitehead/HII)