The Storis, a retired Coast Guard cutter suggested for an artificial reef off Redondo Beach, has been sold at auction to an undisclosed bidder.
A General Services Administration spokeswoman said Monday the agency accepted the higher of two bids for the ship that has been mentioned as one possibility for a diving attraction off the South Bay coastline.
The auction — conducted by the GSA on the Coast Guard’s behalf –closed on June 27, and the GSA accepted a bid amount of $70,100, said Saudia Muwwakkil, the agency’s regional public affairs officer. She declined to disclose the bidder’s name, saying it had not been made public.
As of late as last week, the nonprofit group California Ships to Reefs had suggested the 230-foot Storis as one of three decommissioned Coast Guard vessels that could be suitable for a new artificial reef south of King Harbor — in addition to the Iris and the Planetree.
The nonprofit’s executive director, Eleanore Rewerts, said all three ships were possibilities for new reefs, but that the city in preliminary talks had expressed an interest in the Storis. Rewerts said she’d learned the reserve price set in the recent GSA auction had not been met, which left her group hopeful it might be able to acquire the vessel through a donation from the federal government.
“We were looking at any of the three (ships),” Rewerts said Monday. “We’ll just keep pursuing the Planetree and the Iris.”
All three Coast Guard vessels are docked in Northern California’s Suisun Bay, home to a “ghost fleet” of old military and merchant marine vessels. The Planetree and the Iris are both 180-foot cutters, part of a class of steel ships produced in the early 1940s; the Planetree was commissioned in 1943 and the Iris, 1944.
California Ships to Reefs, which began as a committee of the San Diego Oceans Foundation, works to create artificial reefs along the state’s coastline in hopes of enhancing marine habitats and boosting tourism. The foundation in 2000 sunk a decommissioned Canadian warship, the HMCS Yukon, off Mission Bay, which according to Ships to Reefs has injected $4.5 million annually into the local economy.
The group last week won the Redondo Beach City Council’s approval to explore plans for a reef about halfway between King Harbor and another sunken ship off the town’s coastline — the USS Palawan. The other local site it has explored for a ship-based reef lies north of Marina del Rey, while the group also has studied three other Santa Monica Bay locations for shallower non-ship-based reefs made of concrete, quarry rock and other materials.
The group faces challenges in creating ship-based reefs — not only in acquiring vessels, but getting the proper regulatory approvals and challenging a federal ruling last year that prohibits the sinking of ships built before 1985.
By Kristin S. Agostoni Staff Writer Daily Breeze