A huge chunk of concrete begins its journey to the Starship II Reef in 61.4 feet of water off of Ponce Inlet. 

Video: OUC-donated concrete help create artificial reef. 

One by one, and sometimes two or three at a time, 354 concrete and about 50 granite blocks were dropped over the side of the barge, splashing into the blue Atlantic waters on their way to the ocean bottom 61.4 feet below. There they created the Starship II Reef, a manmade marine habitat that OUC donated almost 800,000 pounds of concrete to help build in partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association, Building Conservation Trust, Volusia County and Shell USA, Inc.

For three hours on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, a front-end loader traversing the 120-foot barge picked up huge chunks of concrete and 25 tons of granite blocks, the latter donated by Shell, and deposited them in three places across 600 feet of ocean. Located about 2.75 miles off of Ponce Inlet at approximately 29° 07.276’N, 80° 53.316’W, the Starship II Reef will provide a refuge for a diverse community of fish, crab species and shrimp.

A tug operated by McCulley Marine Services pushes the barge loaded with concrete and granite to the deployment site.

The concrete, some bearing the OUC logo, and granite were loaded Aug. 17 and 18 on the barge at OUC’s Indian River Plant’s canal in Brevard County. A tug operated by McCulley Marine Services delivered the materials to the reef site. The concrete came from OUC’s St. Cloud Operations & Maintenance Center, which is under construction. Hundreds of concrete blocks were left on the property by its previous owner, leaving it up to OUC to remove them. Instead of having them sent to a landfill, OUC sought to find sustainable uses for them.

“Projects like this allow us to take our efforts beyond our service territory to preserve precious natural resources and help our ocean ecosystem thrive,” said Linda Ferrone, Chief Customer & Marketing Officer, who also oversees OUC’s sustainability efforts. “The Starship II Reef will create an environment that will sustain all kinds of marine life for decades to come.”

OUC partnered on an artificial reef project in 2019, contributing 400,000 pound of concrete that were used in the sinking of a cargo ship off the coast of Fort Pierce. In March 2022, OUC donated 50,000 pounds of precast underground utility junction boxes to St. Cloud Fire Rescue to be used in confined-spaces training.