Articles Comments

Divetalking » Artificial Reefs, Reefs, Video, Videography, Wrecks » Spike, the new Artificial Reef

Spike, the new Artificial Reef

It was around October 2008 when I heard about The Spike. There was a calling
to see if the owners would be willing to donate her and volunteers to clean her.
Between October 2008 and March 2009, very little was heard on the subject of

Around mid March 2009, I was brought to see Spike. She was beautiful. Spike
is a retired USCG Tender that served Mayport Florida from her commission in
1968 to her decommissioning 1988. The US Coast Guard turned Spike over to
Jacksonville’s Safe Harbor Boys Home where she was used as a dormatory and
for maritime training.

Here I began taking photographs of her before anything changed. To document
what would never be again, before it it lost. I also began to video the rooms and
compartments, hatches, and passageways.

Around April/May 2009 time frame things began to pick up. We had the boat
do we have a sound location off shore? How are we going to get her out to the
unknown location? How are we going to pay for all of this?

Well, timing is everything. Fortunately for Jacksonville, Florida history in
artificial reef management and cooperation and understanding from all
parties involved, we found some money and we found some more money.
Before we knew it we had about $60,000. Grants were provided by
Sport Fish Restoration with matching grants from FWC and the city of

We get volunteers to come out and start cleaning the vessel. We do this
by visiting our local dive shops, dive clubs, fishing clubs and spreading
the word. The Jacksonville Offshore Fishing Club, JOSFC was a big help
with this project. JOSFC help identify a site, one in an area called,
Harms Ledge. Harms Ledge is approx 6 rectangular sq. nm area located
approx. 25 NM East of the Mayport Jetties. JOSFC also provided over
20 boats to shuttle people to the site for the event. Over 100 people
attended the event.

So now we have money, we have a boat, we have volunteers who is going to get
her out to the site? How will we place her, explosives, flooding? When will we do

The city of Jacksonville put out bids to place Spike back into the water so we can
tow her to her new home at Harms Ledge.

Spike was removed from the water about 1999 because she was getting old beyond
her times. All the cleanup of Spike, repairing of holes, welding, cutting, cutting,
sawing, scraping, sweeping happened while Spike was sitting on land.

The bids came in, to bring in a 250 Ton crane, assemble the crane (2 days), place
the boat in the water (1 day), disassemble the crane, (2 days) somewhere between

You see where I’m going with this? How much did I say we had? How much just to
place her in the water? We still have to get her towed and placed. What will we do?

In steps Joe Kistel. Joe visits the US Coast Guard, the US Navy, the City of
Jacksonville Sherrifs Office, JSO, Dive Shops, the JOSFC, local contractors, dive
clubs, The Jacksonville Reef Reseacrh Team, JRRT and comes back with the USCG
 will tow and place Spike. The USN will film from the air and provide crowd control.
The USCG will also provide a cutter to carry the young men from Safe Harbor
Boys Home and the Navy will provide the explosive team and JSO will provide
police escort.  That was not an easy task. There is more..

Remember, we need to get the boat in the water. Another gift presents itself. a
Jacksonville Contractor, Florida Mechanical volunteer the crew and the 250 ton
crane. That was a $60-80 donation!! That on top of the money received from the
grants and things are really looking up.

It’s about mid May now and a tentative date has been set. Weather permitting, the
 date has been set for a week near the end of June.  Cleaning continues.

We are informed the US Coast Guard will not tow Spike for various valid reasons
and the use of explosives is out the window, now what? We have a boat that is
cleaned, about to be patched up (welding), final touches in preparation for that day
[xr_video id=”2e399f46e906489eb636b51a4019e765″ size=”sm”]
and we no longer have a method to get Spike out to her new duty station and on the

This is a task that keeps one on their tows (A pun). See how fast things change? OK, no
problem, we can move the date if neccessary but the owners would like to see the
vessel in the water by the end of June. We end of moving the date from June to July,
aiming for the week of July 12-18th, 2009.

Being resourceful, we take some of that grant money and open up bidding to tow.
Thanks to Max Moody shipyard and the use of Bulldog, we now had a means to get
Spike out to her destination. We still need to get her down. Explosive are out, that
leaves flooding. We weld into the sides of Spike, below the water level, four values.
Two on the starboard, two on the port. Also holes were made just above the water
line and softpatched. The idea was to first remove the softpatches, then open the
values. The values would allow water in, filling the vessel until the water level
reached the area of the holes just reveiled, by removing the soft patches.

Early July, USCG Inspection. This was an interesting inspection. I believe we were
almost finished when down in the engineering compartment, in the middle of the
deck was a hatch. It was sealed with like 24 bolts. Why is it here? What could be
underneath the hatch? Noticing a pipe coming up and out from this 2x3x1 boxed
compartment. The pipe looked to be about a 2″ diameter. We cut the pipe off, place
a stick down- through the pipe, into this void, pull the stick out and it’s covered with
about 4-5″ of petrolium. Inspection failed. Later the bolts were removed and over
34 gallons of petrolium was removed. Our second inspection will be Monday July

July 13th, 2009, Florida Mechanical begins to arrive Safe Harbor Boys Home with
13 flat bed trucks carrying peices of the 250 ton crane. It took two days to assemble
the crane.

On Wednesday July 15th, Spike was returned to the water and towed under
Chelsie’s power and Bulldogs guidance to Max Moody’s ship yard where she will
be fitted with three anchors for Thursday, July 17th 2009 scheduled tow and

Some articles:


[xr_video id=”c821d3a0d9834e489f63ae2856c1c828″ size=”sm”]

The sinking method employed to place Spike.

[xr_video id=”98ba946ccc024b8194866766d4a84706″ size=”sm”]

The following video was provided to me 05/04/2010. I added the link here. The video is from the United States Navy.
[xr_video id=”f40b1de330af480db742556a7eda7f89″ size=”sm”]

© 2009 – 2010, lars2923. All rights reserved.

Written by

PADI MSDT - I've been a diver for over 33 years. I became an instructor because I want to be creditable and able to transfer my knowledge and skills to newer divers. Beside, it cuts down on the expense of diving. NOT! My Motto: First in, Last out

Filed under: Artificial Reefs, Reefs, Video, Videography, Wrecks

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!