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Former Destroyer To Become Part Of Reef Wednesday

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AP

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CAPE MAY, N.J. (AP) — Some of the sailors who served on the Navy destroyer USS Arthur W. Radford gathered
Wednesday to watch it be pushed to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to become part of a manmade reef.

“It’s sad to see it being sunk,” said Lee String, 46, of Westville, N.J., who served on the ship in 1985 as a welder,
pipefitter and plumber. “It was once a proud-looking ship, but it’s better to see it go to that purpose rather than razor
blades.”

Officials say the 563-foot ship, which was decommissioned in 2003, will be the longest vessel ever sunk as an artificial reef in the Atlantic Ocean.

Plenty of manmade objects, including several retired New York City subway cars, are already submerged in the Atlantic to create habitats for sea life and new opportunities for deep-sea anglers and scuba divers.

The Radford’s resting spot is to be under about 130 feet of ocean on a reef known as the Del-Jersey-Land reef. Created by
Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey, the reef is roughly equidistant from each state’s shoreline. It lies about 25 miles off the Indian River Inlet in Delaware; Ocean City, Md.; and Cape May, N.J.

Officials chartered a ferry for those who served on the destroyer, journalists and others to watch the sinking Wednesday.

Many of the more than 200 people who took up the offer were wearing hats or shirts with the destroyer’s name. Some carried books of photos that had been taken aboard the Radford.

The ship, named for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Dwight Eisenhower, was launched March 1, 1975, and was commissioned two years later. Over the next 26 years, it visited Venezuela, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Senegal, Oman, Bahrain, Nova Scotia, Italy, Turkey and the Azores islands off the coast or Portugal.

One former sailor who was witnessing the sinking planned to pay a visit to the ship.

Douglas Warner, 48, of Virginia Beach, Va., just retired after 30 years in Navy, including two years aboard the Radford as combat systems officer.

“Being a diver myself, I’m looking forward to hopefully next year coming back up here and being able to dive on her,” he said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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