Guard Spotlight: South Carolina

 Creative use of military vehicles boosts sea creatures’ habitats

The South Carolina Army National Guard and Department of Natural Resources dropped 36 vehicles into the water off the coast of Beaufort, S.C., last month to help form the manmade reefs that attract sea life and tourism to the area. (Photo by Phillip Jones/released)

The South Carolina Army National Guard and Department of Natural Resources dropped 36 vehicles into the water off the coast of Beaufort, S.C., last month to help form the manmade reefs that attract sea life and tourism to the area. (Photo by Phillip Jones/released)

The South Carolina Army National Guard and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) formed a partnership 17 years ago to develop and improve sea life off the coast of South Carolina. That partnership was used most recently on Sept. 4, when the Guard and DNR dropped 36 vehicles into the water off the coast of Beaufort, S.C., to help form the manmade reefs that attract sea life and tourism to the area.

We “found a way to repurpose obsolete military vehicles and better the environment by demilitarizing and cleaning them, then dropping them in the ocean to help build artificial reefs off the coast of South Carolina,” said 1st Lt. Jason Dunnagan, Innovative Readiness Training Program coordinator for the South Carolina Army National Guard. “Each unit that works on this project receives mission-essential training on preparing vehicles and transporting them to the ocean, because vehicle preparation and movement is imperative for every mission.”

Building artificial reefs encourages sea life to populate the area, which in turn encourages more recreational activities, such as fishing and SCUBA diving. This brings revenue to the State.

“This project brings in $83 million for South Carolina annually, in ways of tourism that range from hotel revenue to deep sea activities,” Dunnagan said. “This is a major factor in the State’s economy.”

According to DNR, the vehicles used to build these artificial reefs could remain productive for the next 150 years. “It won’t be long before these recently dropped vehicles will be covered with long puffs of soft corals, sea sponges and barnacles, and used by a variety of fish to provide food and protection,” said Robert Martore with DNR. “About a dozen sites exist off Beaufort County, and DNR periodically adds to them as material becomes available.”

“Since the project began in 1997, we have placed 587 armored vehicles off the coast of South Carolina,” Martore said. “Those vehicles have helped to create more than 1,120,000 cubic feet of new reef habit.”

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Original article by Staff Sgt. Tracci Dorgan, South Carolina National Guard, appeared last month in the news section of NationalGuard.mil.

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