Kerry Dillon Tugboat Reef arrives on the Treasure Coast

Tug Kerry Dillon will be deployed and sunk approximately 13 miles north of the St. Lucie Inlet and 12 miles south of the Fort Pierce Inlet to create the Kerry Dillon Tugboat Reef. Photo credit: Patricia Steinbergs.
The Treasure Coast’s newest reef to be deployed this summer, will honor Kerry Dillon, who played a major role in many Treasure Coast artificial reefs. Photo credit: Keith Mille/FWC.

FORT PIERCE, FL  – (May 13, 2018) —  Sea-Life Habitat Improvement Project, Inc., known as SHIP, announces its first artificial reef project is going down this summer. The Kerry Dillon Tugboat Reef, comprised of an acquired 100-foot tugboat, will be deployed and sunk off the Treasure Coast approximately 13 miles north of the St. Lucie Inlet and 12 miles south of the Fort Pierce Inlet.

“This reef project honors our founding board member and renowned diver Kerry Dillon who passed suddenly last summer,” said Andy Brady, president of SHIP. “Dillon played a major role in the deployment of many artificial reefs along the Treasure Coast. He was a valuable asset to our team, but more importantly he was a friend.  We are excited to bring this project to the finish line on behalf of Kerry and his family.”

Tug Penobscot broke free from its mooring during hurricane Matthew in 2016. It was discovered floating in the middle of the Port Canaveral channel during the post-hurricane assessment tour. After failed attempts to contact the owner, the tug was subsequently “arrested” and sold at a federal auction in November 2017. Port Canaveral acquired rights to the tug and assigned the rights to Sophlex Enterprises, which donated the vessel to SHIP. Towed by McCulley Marine Services, the tug arrived at the Ft. Pierce Port at dusk on May 10t. There the now named Kerry Dillon Tug will be prepared for its last call to serve as a new habitat for the marine ecosystem.

“We have partnered with CRB Geological & Environmental Services, Inc., and Artificial Reefs International, Inc. (aka ARI), to complete the cleaning and deployment of this vessel. The leadership at CRB/ ARI have created the world’s most successful artificial reefs including the USS Vanderberg Reef in Key West, USCGC Mohawk off Lee County and the soon to be Clamagore Reef off the coast of Palm Beach. Whether from an environmental, economic or marketing perspective the results speak for themselves,” says Brady.

“Proper preparation of a vessel for an artificial reef is required. Special training and proper equipment is required to do this work safely,” says Joe Weatherby, president of ARI. “It is well-known that natural reefs are in peril worldwide for a variety of reasons. One of the few places that reefs can be identified as growing are artificial reefs. Another positive is that you can clean, then place them where you want. According to the United Nations there are over 3 million sunken ships worldwide. Virtually none of them clean. The Tug Kerry Dillon will be different. This reef will be a proud tribute to our great friend and Treasure Coast legend, Kerry Dillon,” says Weatherby.

Fundraising efforts for the project are ongoing. Visit or find Sea-Life-Habitat-Improvement-Project-Inc. on Facebook.

Sea-Life Habitat Improvement Project, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 public charity and is dedicated to deploying a large military type ship for an Artificial Reef and the enhancement to our artificial reef systems on the Treasure Coast of Florida.