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Saturday, 30 January 2021 00:37

Creating Artificial Habitats While Honoring National Treasures Featured

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The USS Mohawk was a WWII Coast Guard Cutter that is 165 feet in length. After its service in the military, it now rests in approximately 90 feet of water just off the coast of Captiva Island, FL.

The ship reef structure maintains a population of marine life that spans the food chain. Large schools of bait fish, snappers, grouper and other game fish live around the reef.
SWFL Reefs is a nonprofit foundation that works to enhance the marine environment and protect natural reef ecosystems.

Through the creation of artificial habitats, we help to provide safe haven and food for more than 250 different reef fish species from the shallow waters of back bays and harbors, to more than 30 miles offshore.

From their base in Sanibel, Florida, SWFL Reefs works with other marine conservation nonprofit organizations, corporations and government agencies to ensure the sustainability of our underwater wildlife.

SWFL Reefs supports the Lee County artificial reef program, which includes planning and implementation of new projects, maintenance of existing sites, monitoring reef quality, educating reef users and informing the public about the role that these reefs play in enhancing the quality of life for people and marine ecosystems.

Artificial reefs created by Lee Cou­­­nty, not only hold sea life that recreational divers enjoy and anglers want to catch, but also create viable, long-lasting marine habitat that complement the natural ledges and outcroppings that exist off the Lee County coast, the USS Mohawk is a great example.


The Mohawk Cutter.... was and "Ice Breaker" when she was commissioned 

The Mohawk was officially commissioned in January, 1935 and first assigned patrol and general icebreaking duties on the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. The outbreak of war found her stationed in Cape May, New Jersey.

In November, 1941, the Mohawk was directed to serve as part of the naval forces of the United States. She was assigned to North Atlantic escort operations with the Greenland Patrol. She served there for the duration of World War II.

mohawk greenland

USS Mohawk Off the shore of Greenland

During the war, the Mohawk launched a total of 14 attacks against submarine contacts between 1942 and 1945. She also broke ice in the Arctic Circle and rescued more than 300 sailors in two different operations.mohawk subs

In November of 1945, the Mohawk’s war-time armament was removed and she was transferred to her old homeport of Cape and in April, 1946, the Mohawk was placed “in reserve, in commission” status with a skeleton crew at Cape May, New Jersey. She remained there until she was ordered to be decommissioned in October, 1947.

The Mohawk was declared surplus to needs of the Coast Guard in July, 1948 and was sold in November, to the Delaware Bay and River Pilots’ Association. For more 30 years, she was used as a pilot boat on the Delaware River.


Mohawk was found in a Staten Island scrap yard by Frans Boetes, then president and CEO of Mohawk’s Memorial Museum. She had been there, rusting for over 15 years.


After a complete overhaul, the USS Mohawk headed to Key West.

After some initial repairs, she was towed to Miami, where substantial repairs were made, and then on to Key West where the ship was berthed as USS Mohawk Memorial Museum at Truman Waterfront.

mohawk key west 2 

After repairs, as a Memorial Museum at the Truman Waterfront.

In the spring of 2012, it was once again in need of costly repairs,

WWII warship sunk for divers 2

so it was ultimately decided that the most honorable fate was to give her a final duty serving as a veteran's memorial reef rather than sending her back to the scrap yard where she would have been taken apart and melted down for her steel.

The Mohawk was donated to Lee County Department of Natural Resources and was transported to Fort Myers Beach in May, 2012 where she was cleaned in order to ensure no negative environmental impacts from its aging equipment, experts cleaned and prepared the ship to be an artificial reef, prior to sending it on its last voyage.


On July 2, 2012 , the “Mighty Mo” was scuttled 30 miles off the coast of Fort Myers Beach. In her final resting place as an artificial reef.

The Mohawk was the first dedicated veterans memorial military ship reef in the United States of America. The USS Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef was the brainchild of Mike Campbell with the Lee County Division of Natural Resources, and has made Southwest Florida a new diving destination and has become a popular.

Scuba divers should always practice their safety protocols and make sure to have their diving buddy.

mohawk fish sm

Take some awesome photos of fish, snapper, goliath grouper, barracuda and who knows what other types of sea life and marine creatures will come to populate the shipwreck. Spear diving may also be a popular underwater activity at this diving spot, just make sure to follow acceptable practices and local diving rules.

It's an excellent fishing spot too, fishermen will want to carry along a variety of fishing rods, fishing reels and tackle. Having your light tackle for fun with the small fish, as well as having a 50 pound class rod and reel outfit available should the big ones show up, helps to make the fishing day more fun.

At this reef, you never know what gamefish will show up hungry and ready to bite.


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