65 Reef Balls Deployed to Honor 65 Sunken US Subs

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©. Brian Dombrowski/EternalReefs.com

This undersea memorial will honor all the American subs and their crews lost since 1900, while creating new habitat for marine life.

Since 1900, 65 U.S. submarines have gone on "eternal patrol," sinking into the inky depths and taking more than 4,000 officers and crew with them. Now, they are getting a unique undersea memorial: One giant reef ball per submarine, complete with dedication plaques honoring each vessel.

The memorial is being planned by Eternal Reefs, an organization that incorporates cremains into a proprietary concrete mixture which is then used to cast artificial reef formations. These permanent memorials bolster natural coastal reef formations. Since 1998, the group has placed some 2,000 Memorial Reefs in 25 locations off the eastern and southern coasts, substantially boosting the ocean’s diminishing reef systems.

reef balls

© Brian Dombrowski/EternalReefs.com

To do so for a submarine memorial feels like a pretty poetic thing. The power of a memorial is that we see it, and thus, remember those whom the memorial is memorializing. How fitting then to be creating an invisible memorial for the submarines, a type of craft that largely went unseen. And while the reef balls may exist beyond our scope of vision, they will be more dynamic and life-giving than the more mundane memorials found on terra firma.

As Eternal Reefs notes, they will be in "a permitted site to forever honor these brave souls and allow them to continue their service by preserving and protecting the marine environment for future generations."

reef balls

© Brian Dombrowski/EternalReefs.com

"The strategic value of the Navy's submarine force in World War II and since cannot be overestimated. It is fitting that the On Eternal Patrol Memorial Reef honors the brave submariners who gave their lives in service to our nation," said Rear Admiral Donald P. Harvey, USN (Ret) at the dedication ceremony. Harvey is 94 years old and is Sarasota’s oldest living naval serviceman and highest ranking retired naval officer.

The dedication ceremony took place in Sarasota, Florida on Memorial Day, with full military honors. Over the coming weeks, the 1300-pound reef balls will be deployed to the ocean floor off the Sarasota coast. There they will aid the ocean environment – sprouting new marine growth within a few months – in which these submariners served. They may be invisible, but what a beautiful and profound living legacy they will be.

For more, visit Eternal Reefs.