New Life for Old Vessels
What do twelve Liberty ships, four deck barges, two tugboats, one shrimp boat, and a 100-foot Navy dive barge have in common? All of these vessels serve as artificial reefs on the floor of the Texas Gulf coast.
The complex cleaning and prepping process for a ship is exemplified in this 100-page report about the sinking of the Texas Clipper: National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs.
A Few Good Liberty Ships
During World War II, Liberty ships carried supplies, oil and personnel into the most dangerous waters. Some sailed to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, carrying Army and Red Cross personnel ashore. Another landed at Mindanao in the Philippines. Two more repelled the Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean. Still others carried supplies to the besieged city of Antwerp, Belgium and to Suez during the Battle of El Alamein.
Where are the Liberty ships now?
Their wartime duties behind them, the twelve Liberty ships continue to serve, now as artificial reefs off the coast of Texas. Most were intentionally sunk between 1975–76 by the Texas Coastal and Marine Council. They were later transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife and form the centerpiece of the Texas Ships-to-Reefs program.
The Liberty ships and one WWII tanker, the SS John Worthington, are readily accessible reef sites, clustered in five groups on the Gulf floor.
Each ship has a unique story to tell. Read the full history (PDF, 11.4MB) of each Liberty ship in this 144-page compilation from the Texas Historical Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.