SPOTD: Japanese-Built Merchant Vessel Sunk Off Texas

kinta s sinking texas
Image by Earl Nottingham, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Flanked by Texas Game Warden boats, the 155-foot Kinta S was sunk in 75 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico near Corpus Christi on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

The ship was scuttled by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to create a new artificial reef that will provide habitat for saltwater fish as well as a destination for underwater divers.  She is the largest ship to be reefed since the 473-foot Texas Clipper was sunk 17 miles off South Padre Island in 2006.

“The Kinta S was just a rusty, outdated cargo vessel with no historical significance, but now she will live on as underwater habitat for marine life and an interesting destination for scuba divers,” said Dale Shively, director of the TPWD artificial reef program.

Since it began in 1990, the Texas artificial reef program has grown into one of the largest such efforts in the nation, with 68 reef sites in the Gulf of Mexico ranging from 40-to-360 acres in extent. The majority of the reefs are in federal water, which begins nine miles off the Texas coast. Some are up to 100 miles from shore, deepwater habitat for popular species like red snapper.

kinta s port aransas
On Tuesday, the vessel was towed past the Lydia Ann lighthouse near Aransas Pass, Texas. Image by Earl Nottingham, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The Kinta S, which once plied the Caribbean, was salvaged in Miami in June and towed to Orange Beach, Alabama where the Walter Marine Co. readied the ship for its voyage to Texas.  According to the TWPD, the process included cleaning it and cutting holes in the hull and then fitting them with marine plywood covers that when removed would cause the ship to take on water.

Here’s some video from inside the ship as she sunk.