Decommissioned military vehicles in Jordan find new life as artificial reefsMarie Donlon | July 26, 2019
A Jordanian resort on the Red Sea is using decommissioned tanks, armored troop carriers, a helicopter and other objects to build an artificial reef and underwater museum.
On July 24, a helicopter donated by the Royal Jordanian Air Force was submerged in the waters off of the port city of Aqaba along with other decommissioned military relics that will eventually form an artificial reef that will double as an underwater display, according to the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, which is overseeing the development of the reef and museum.
Already, the site contains 19 objects and it is expected to grow as more objects are donated to the cause. Currently, eight of the 19 objects sit roughly 50 to 65 ft below the surface of the Red Sea, whereas the remaining 11 objects sit approximately 65 to 90 ft below the surface.
Prior to submerging, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority reported that all of the military relics had been stripped of hazardous materials and that all appropriate environmental best practices were observed ahead of submerging the objects.
According to experts, under optimal conditions, an artificial reef could develop and attract marine life almost immediately.
“Artificial reefs do have important value,” said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a New Jersey-based environmental coalition. “They just have to be the right materials that are suitable for that habitat.”
“What you’re trying to mimic when you’re creating an artificial reef is the natural habitat,” Zipf said. “I think the emphasis should be on habitat and the protection of the marine life, rather than the repurposing of the material as a museum.”
Submerging objects in the ocean to behave as artificial reefs to attract marine life is growing in popularity and being carried out all over the world. The Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City has submerged decommissioned subway cars all along the Eastern Seaboard as well as portions of the old Tappan Zee Bridge, which have been submerged in areas off of New York’s Long Island, to create artificial reefs. Likewise, a decommissioned 320 ft ferry was recently submerged off the coast of Delaware to make way for another artificial reef.