Current Status Sinking date was 15 November 2007 On 15 November 2007, the USTS Texas Clipper will be reefed 17 nautical miles off Port Isabel / South Padre Island. Weather permitting, the ship will be towed to the reef site on 14 November and reefed mid-morning on the 15th. TPWD and Resolve Marine Services, Inc. will make a determination to proceed based on weather several days before the 14th. If the weather is not suitable for conducting the reefing on the 15th, we will wait with the ship in Brownsville, Texas until the weather calms. Reefing would then occur on the next suitable day after the 15th. Anyone who wants to view the sinking must understand that a last minute notice for reefing may be issued in the case of a weather delay. Weather forecast must meet the following contractor's rule of thumb to allow for the tow of the ship to the reef site: sea state less than 4ft and winds no greater than 10-15 knots. This website will be updated continually as we approach 15 November. There are a number of charter boats in the area that may be available to take members of the general public out to the reef site. Please contact the South Padre Island Convention and Visitor Bureau (1-800-SOPADRE or http://www.sopadre.com), South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce (956-761-4412 or http://www.spichamber.com) or Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce (1-800-527-6102 or www.portisabel.org) for additional information on offshore charters and lodging for the event. If you have any questions regarding the sinking event, please contact Dale Shively ( Artificial Reef Coordinator: (512) 389-4686; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bob Murphy (Reef Specialist: (512) 389-8194; email@example.com). Note on Texas Clipper Sinking During the sinking, a designated safety buffer zone will be established around the perimeter of the deployment site. Only authorized vessels will be allowed to travel into and out of the designated buffer zone. Details will be provided at a later date regarding the size and configuration of this zone. For the safety of everyone, all diving and fishing activities by the public will be prohibited for at least 48 hours after the sinking. This will allow TPWD and authorized contractors to inspect the ship, remove any equipment associated with the reefing process and install mooring buoys and navigational aids. Please check this webpage after the sinking to find a notice allowing resumption of diving and fishing activities. The local community is hosting a Dive Week September 15-23 to celebrate the reefing of the Texas Clipper. Information can be obtained by visiting www.spidiveweek.com. Soon, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will add the Texas Clipper to its Ships-to-Reefs program. This is significant to the Texas Artificial Reef Program (Reef Program) because of the recreational, ecological and economic benefits that will follow. We are establishing research programs with Texas universities to study the integrity of the hull over time, the biological development of marine life communities and the economic impact of the artificial reef to the regional economy of South Texas. The recreational diving community will now have an international dive destination just 17 miles off the south Texas coast out of Pass Santiago. Anglers who venture to that area will have a tremendous opportunity to pursue sport fish. This reef site will soon team with marine life as the hard substrate of the ship becomes covered with growth that attracts and supports a new reef community. The South Texas economy will receive a boost in tourism as divers and anglers visit the site. Ships of this size in other parts of the country have boosted local economies by as much as $50 million annually. Reef Program staff and our many partners in this project now look forward to completing the ten year process of acquiring, preparing and reefing the USTS Texas Clipper. Background The Texas Clipper was built in Sparrows Point, Maryland by Bethlehem Steel Corporation for the U.S. Merchant Marine Commission. She was destined to be a Texas ship from the beginning. Her hull was laid down on March 2, 1944, the 108th anniversary of Texas Independence Day. She was commissioned by the Navy as the Queens (APA-103) in December 1944, a troop transport ship with a rich naval history who served her country well in World War II. She ferried fresh troops into battle and cared for and shuttled the wounded from Iwo Jima. She was also part of the American occupation at Sasebo, Japan before being decommissioned in 1946.To learn more about the U.S.S. Queens From 1948 to 1958, she was commissioned the S.S. Excambion and served as one of the post–war four aces for American Export Lines. The original Four Aces were luxurious ocean liners that routinely crossed that Atlantic and visited Mediterranean ports of call. They were converted to troop transports when the U.S. entered World War II and three of them were sunk in battle. Three troop transports, including the Texas Clipper as the Excambion, were converted to cruise liners and again sailed to Mediterranean ports. To learn more about the U.S.S. Excambion The U.S.T.S. Texas Clipper was commissioned as the first Texas Maritime Training Academy ship and served sea cadets at Texas A&M University at Galveston from 1965 to 1996. She spent summers at sea and provided an ocean–going campus for about 200 students at a time. They learned the workings of a ship, studied the world's oceans and broadened their horizons beyond the normal constraints of a classroom.To learn more about the U.S.T.S. Texas Clipper Current Project The Reef Program has been actively working on the Texas Clipper project since 1998. Plans now call for reefing the ship on the sandy bottom of the Gulf of Mexico 17 miles off the south Texas coast. She will be more than a typical artificial reef and will become a world class diving destination. She will be the Texas Clipper, a proud Aggie training vessel, a cruise liner and a proud battle–tested Naval Ship. She will rest proudly and gracefully off the Texas coast and serve the diving and fishing community for many more decades. She will be there as an oasis for marine life in an otherwise vast expanse of the mostly flat sand and mud bottom of the open Gulf. She was towed to Brownsville in early November from her recent home in the Maritime Administration Fleet storage site on the Neches River just below Beaumont. She is now at dock in Brownsville for environmental cleanup and preparation for sinking. Masts are being reduced in height to assure a 50–ft clearance above her. Wiring and electrical components are being removed, along with other materials that might provide a source of contaminants, as the ocean claims her through weathering and corrosion. Any materials that would float if dislodged from the ship are being removed. All substances that might result in environmental contamination will be removed. Holes are to be positioned at strategic points to ensure adherence to the sinking plan and to provide for water flow. Hatches will be removed or welded shut, and sometimes cut to new specifications for safe passage of divers. We will provide project updates as the work progresses. The site where she will lay has been permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Seventeen miles from Pass Santiago in 134 ft of clear blue water, she will find her place on the barren sandy bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Barnacles, corals, sponges, clams, bryozoans and hydroids will eventually take their stations on her hard surfaces. Fishes and mobile invertebrates such as rock crabs will come to feast on this bounty she attracts. We will also benefit from her bounty. Anglers will be drawn to the surface above and divers will seek her beauty below as she supports their pursuits. She will add to the marine environment as well as the South Texas economy. Her proud traditions of maritime heritage will be remembered, and her new role as an artificial reef will enhance her legacy to the future.