Through supplementing the California coast’s natural reef environments, California Ships to Reefs endeavors to increase the economic opportunities of all California coastal communities, and will provide increased economic benefit through sport fishing and scuba diving opportunities, and, once fully developed, become recreational attractions functioning in harmony with marine ecosystems.
"I think reefing ships is a fantastic win/win/win scenario for sport divers, sport fishermen and the environment. Natural wrecks break down into rubble piles over time and though they will continue to attract fish, the bigger the structure the bigger the attraction and the bigger the ecosystem it will hold and or attract."
-- Richie Kohler, Advisory Board, Ships to Reefs International                      
Quoted from California Diver Magazine


2010 Annual Report

CSTR 2010
Annual Report

T49T335D.jpg  VISION

  • To establish a regional system of reefed ships along the California coast
  • Establish California as an international dive destination
  • Enhance the tourism industry centered on fishing and diving
  • Enhance California fish populations


In 2001, The Rand Corporation, under contract to the Department of Defense, published an in-depth study of the various alternatives for removing retired ships from inventory.  The conclusions of this study were confirmed by a follow-up study in 2004.
Long Term Storage:  Requires periodic maintenance, is expensive, leaves hazardous materials aboard ships where they are exposed to spillage, and at the end of 100 years, you still have just as many ships to get rid of as you started with; more if additional ships are decommissioned during the 100-year period.
Domestic Scrapping:  There are only two shipyards which will engage in recycling (Brownsville, TX and Chesapeake Bay, VA).
Overseas Scrapping:  Towing to such places as India or China for recycling is expensive.  What makes overseas recycling cheap is the fact that labor costs are low, safety costs are non-existent and there are no pollution controls.  Toxic wastes are allowed to run off into the sea from the beaches where the ships are broken.  Federal law now prohibits the export of such toxins as PCBs or asbestos, so the ships would have to be cleaned here in any case.
Reefing:  Reefing surplus ships is cost effective.  Typically the government has in the past provided a grant for cleaning vessels when donated.  Private groups such as California Ships to Reefs, or local/state governments, such as along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, then "diverize" them by cutting diver access openings into them and removing such things as overhead cables, for safety.  They are then reefed in selected locations to provide dive tourism attractions.  An incidental benefit is that they provide structure and hiding places where marine plants and animals can attach, or hide, to feed and breed.  RAND determined that the cost of reefing a ship can be recovered within 12 years of its reefing through taxes on dive tourism alone.  The city of Pensacola, Florida provided a loan of $1MM to assist in reefing USS Oriskany, which was recouped in the first three days after reefing

P3218400.jpg  HISTORY

California Ships to Reefs was originally a committee of San Diego Oceans Foundation (SDOF).  In 2000, SDOF reefed HMCS Yukon, a former Canadian Navy frigate.  Subsequent studies of Yukon have demonstrated that it is not only a premier dive site, but an economic success for the San Diego area.

Since 2000, the HMCS Yukon has proved to be even better for the local economy of San Diego that the RAND report projected.  RAND 2001 projected that the costs of approximately $1.2MM would be recovered in approximately 12 years.  In fact, Yukon has injected approximately $4.5MM per year into the local economy, with $450,000 going into the City of San Diego tax revenues.

In 2005, Dick Long and John Daley of SDOF decided to make California a statewide premier dive destination and took the Ships to Reefs message on the road.


  • California Ships to Reefs was incorporated in January 2007 as a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation.
  • Twenty-three committees in four Departments are established.  These committees, staffed by over 100 volunteers, work in over 15 counties of California.
  • Ten sink sites along the coastline of California, capable of hosting 4-5 vessels each plus other materials, are identified.
  • California Ships to Reefs established a dynamic website providing current information on its projects, ships to reefs news from around the world, online volunteer/membership support, online fund raising, and public blogs.
  • California Ships to Reefs is conducting outreach and has met with federal, state, and local government and elected officials, regulatory personnel, business, service, and social groups.
  • Public Meetings sponsored by California Ships to Reefs (with public comment and question/answer period) and Public Hearings before local government bodies are being held
  • Resolution in Support received from Morro Bay City Council, San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, Dana Point City Council, and by the of City of Pismo Beach with more in progress
  • 3rd Annual Casino Night Fundraiser at Scuba Show 2009 in Long Beach in May
  • 1st Annual Reefing Conference and Awards Dinner in Monterey in September
  • Monthly Beachhopper II Fundraiser and Morro Bay Projects Fundraiser


  • July 2008 - Dana Point Harbor pier pilings (1,200)
  • November 2008 - Two small vessels offered for donation.
    • Restless C II, salmon troller
  • December 2008 - Two commercial vessels offered for donation
    • FV Capelin, refrigerated cargo vessel
    • FV Akutan, Alaskan king crab processor
  • January 2009 - Two vessels currently moored illegally undergoing abatement
    • MV Faithful aka MV Xanadu, 186 passenger cruise ship
    • MV San Diego, double-ended car ferry


  • Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet - Seventy-two Navy/MARAD vessels in long term storage
  • 32 selected as appropriate for reefing (currently tied up in an environmental lawsuit)
    • Bremerton, WA Naval Base - Combat vessels stricken from the Naval Registry
  • Other vessel and non-vessel items from military and non-military resources


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