LOCAL

Okaloosa County adds 65-foot tugboat Miss Nellie to artificial reef system

Northwest Florida Daily News
USA Today Network

Okaloosa County has added another destination to its artificial reef system.

On Tuesday, a team with Destin-Fort Walton Beach, the county's tourism development department, oversaw the sinking of a 65-foot tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico.

The vessel, named Miss Nellie, was donated by Inland Construction & Engineering Inc. from Panama City. The boat was stripped of all non-metallic parts before it was sunk in 112 feet of water, about 21 nautical miles southeast of the Destin East Pass.

Mike Norberg, coastal resource coordinator with Destin-Fort Walton Beach, checks on Okaloosa County's newest artificial reef structure, a 65-foot tugboat named Miss Nellie. The vessel was sunk in 112 feet of water Tuesday, about 21 nautical miles southeast of the Destin East Pass.

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Mike Norberg, coastal resource coordinator with Destin-Fort Walton Beach, dove to survey the new reef after it settled on the bottom of the Gulf.

"It looks great," Norberg said. "It landed right side up, which is always a great thing, and it's in great condition. I think it's going to be a really great wreck for everybody."

The 65-foot tugboat Miss Nellie sinks in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday, about 21 nautical miles southeast of the Destin East Pass. The vessel is the newest addition to Okaloosa County's artificial reef system.

Norberg said the tugboat will create new habitat for fish as well as provide diving and fishing opportunities for locals and visitors to Northwest Florida.

Tuesday's deployment was part of Okaloosa County's ongoing artificial reef program. In June, Destin-Fort Walton Beach teamed with New Zealand-based Starborough Winery to deploy 26 concrete and limestone artificial reef structures at a site that is now called the Starborough Winery Reef.

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A diver inspects Okaloosa County's newest artificial reef structure, a 65-foot tugboat named Miss Nellie. The vessel was sunk in 112 feet of water Tuesday, about 21 nautical miles southeast of the Destin East Pass.

Norberg said the county has more artificial reef deployments in the works.

"We have several boats that are in various states of preparation," Norberg said. "We have to clean the vessel ... and then after that, we have the opportunity to go deploy it within our permitted areas."

The tugboat Miss Nellie, right, is towed to its new home Tuesday as part of Okaloosa County's artificial reef system. The vessel was sunk in 112 feet of water, about 21 nautical miles southeast of Destin's East Pass.

Miss Nellie is located at 30 degrees 7.916 minutes north latitude and 86 degrees 17.512 minutes west longitude.

To see a map of Okaloosa County's artificial reef system, visit Destin-Fort Walton Beach Artificial Reefs.