66ºF

Ship to be turned into artificial reef in Pompano Beach

Ship set to sink in July

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – A cargo ship sitting in the Miami River used to haul human waste – but now it's about to serve a totally different purpose.

The decades-old ship will soon be underwater off Pompano Beach, where it is about to be used as an artificial reef.

Built in the 1960s, the 324-foot freighter has been worked on by a salvage crew, and on July 23 it will go 110 feet under water, about a mile from the Pompano Beach pier.

"This has been a dream of Pompano Beach for over eight years now," Greg Harrison, assistant city manager of Pompano Beach, said.

The Isle Casino and City of Pompano Beach brought the freighter and brought it to Florida from New York to create the artificial reef.

"We set this up to really advance the environmental opportunities of diving and fishing in South Florida, specifically Broward County,"  Tommy DiGirogio, the chairman of  the Pompano Beach Economic Development Council, said.

Local artist Dennis MacDonald is on board, working on unique pieces to make diving to the ship an interactive experience.

"(There will be) a  poker game where a diver can slide up and take a seat and when he dives up and takes a seat he's going to be joined by a couple of card sharks," Rob Wyre, he vice president of Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park said.

And of course, with a new gig comes a new name, rechristened with the new name Lady Luck.

"It's superstitious, I guess, in the ship world that if you name a vessel something new it sinks," Wyre said. "That's exactly what we want to happen."

The underwater attraction is expected to be a big economic driver for Pompano Beach and the surrounding areas as an estimated 35,000 people are anticipated to dive  to it each year.