POMPANO BEACH, FL – A ship the length of a football field is scheduled to be sunk on July 23 just one mile from the Pompano Beach fishing pier, in the greater Fort Lauderdale area. Complete with underwater art exhibits, it will be one of the biggest contributions to Florida’s artificial reef system and the most easily accessible major dive site in the nation.
The 324-foot Lady Luck, a tanker ship formerly known as Newtown Creek, will be the centerpiece of what will become Shipwreck Park, surrounded by 16 other existing wrecks already covered with marine life. She will be sunk with her hull resting in the sand in about 120 feet of water with the top of her stack about 50 feet under the surface, all within recreational diving limits. Lady Luck is expected to draw 35-thousand divers annually.
“Large sunken ships are always a big draw for divers, but the beauty of ours is that it is near a major airport and only one mile offshore – just a ten minute boat ride from the Hillsboro Inlet, unlike other wrecks that are in remote areas 40-50 miles out,” said Tommy DiGiorgio, Jr., chair of the Pompano Beach Economic Development Council that helped spearhead the project. “You’ll be able to dive the Lady Luck and 16 other wrecks that are right there, with much more time in the water than travel time to get there.”
Lady Luck was purchased from the City of New York by Shipwreck Park, Inc., a not-for-profit organization initially funded by the City of Pompano Beach and the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park in a public-private endeavor. Like many New York retirees, Lady Luck’s final home will be here in South Florida.
The ship was towed from New York City to a facility on the Miami River where she is being cleaned and prepped for sinking. Once prepped, Lady Luck will be docked at Port Everglades before being towed to her final destination and sunk off the coast of Pompano Beach.
Noted artist Dennis MacDonald was hired to create several fun and fanciful displays in his Pompano Beach facility, including the installation of a faux casino for the ship deck as part of the Isle Casino sponsorship.
“Imagine the photo ops divers will enjoy,” said Isle Casino general manager Rob Wyre. “They will be swimming up to poker tables, card sharks and slot machines on the ship’s deck, a cascade of gigantic dice and an octopus dealing craps, among other artworks.”
“Our mission, starting with Lady Luck, is to preserve the reef ecosystem by developing this underwater cultural arts park as a significant dive attraction,” said Shipwreck Park, Inc. chairman Greg Harrison. “We think divers worldwide will love this new artificial reef, and we expect the popularity of Shipwreck Park to take pressure off of the natural coral reefs nearby.”
Divers will be allowed to visit the sunken ship almost immediately after its sinking. Interesting features of the sunken tanker ship will be 16 staterooms, the captain’s deck, galley, engine room, tanker holding bays and rotating underwater art exhibits.