The Sinking and First Dive of The Hailey Glasrud Reef

An Interview with Peter Friedman:
Hailey Glasrud sinking

Martin County Artificial Reef Fund was set up several years ago to enhance the artificial reef program of Martin County. Their most recent deployment was the Hailey Glasrud, April 24, 2014, Stuart, FL. She sits in a perfect upright position in 186′ of water. The very uppermost spot is the main upper structure above the bridge at 103′ deep, and the deck level is 164′ deep. Peter Friedman, owner/operator of Stuart Scuba was willing to offer some background information and insight regarding the event, and we have exclusive video from TDI’s own Jon Kieren of the first dive, just minutes after the Hailey Glasrud hit the ocean floor.

Exact coordinates: 27°12.580 / 80°00.287

TDI. How did this come about and who payed for it?
PF. MCAC Reef Fund ( has been raising funds for such reefs since 2003. This is their 4th ship deployment. The organization acquires the vessels, then transfers the ownership and donates the ship to Martin County for deployment on their permitted reef sites. A major donor is given the rights to name the vessel. In this case it was Ted Glasrud who picked his granddaughters name: Hailey. The project did not really start until we were sure there was enough money to complete it.

TDI. Why do this? How does it benefit the environment, and is that the main reason?
It’s all about creating fish habitat. There are different types of reefs that are created for different reasons. These types of reefs are typically constructed to enhance opportunities for the fishing public. Due to the depth this was sunk, diving should be restricted to those with technical skills and certifications. Other reefs, in shallower water might be created as dive destinations, as others might be constructed to enhance fish populations. The MCAC Reef Fund has three goals: to attract more fish to the area and to improve our aquatic population, to bring more fishermen and divers to our area, and to improve our undersea environment.

TDI. What is the ship’s history? Who owned it, and was it donated or purchased?
This ship was purchased from Miami Dock Operators and Freight Forwarder. Total cost including the deployment, is estimated at approximately $150,000. She has changed hands many times and we have included her history along with pictures and videos of the sinking on the MCAC website.

TDI. How was it sunk? With explosives? What are the logistics involved in having it land right side up?
The hull was flooded by six openings that were cut just above the waterline (three on each side). These openings were plugged during transport to the deployment destination. The openings were cut open, two pumps pumped water to the bilge and 2″ – 6” valves were cut open, allowing more sea water to flow in. Although the ship was listing hard port as it went below the water, air trapped just below the main deck righted the vessel and it landed upright. Also six openings, about 3 sqft., were cut below the water line at very low tide, and plugged until sinking. Six additional holes were cut into the ship well above the water line to make access for fish habitat once on the bottom.

Kurt Francis: First to Hit the deck of Martin County’s Newest Artificial Reef: the 190′ freighter Hailey Glasrud. She sits at 186′ in the sand, smoke stack is at 103′. Nice dive and looking forward to the next time after the silt settles. Vis was very limited inside the wreck, at about 30′-50′ (kept changing). Mild current at the start of the dive and increasing by the end of the dive. Thanks to Stuart Scuba and the crew for a Great drop (right on the orange platform!) Also, thanks to Jon Kieren for the video and diving buddy.

TDI. Who was in charge of the event?
Martin County had taken ownership of the vessel at the deployment site, and was responsible for safe and accurate operations. The MCAC was responsible for the ship until the sinking. This project was overseen by the MCAC’s President, John Burke. He conducted the negotiations with the tug boat operator as well as the past owner of the vessel. Once the vessel was sunk, ownership was transferred to Martin County by agreement and legal documents. This has also been the case with other vessels that MCAC has added to the Martin County artificial reef.

TDI. Who decided on the location, and why?
The site is the Sirotkin Reef site which is permitted by Martin County. Since the vessel was purchased and donated by the MCAC, the county worked with the MCAC to identify a location that was acceptable to both. This long standing partnership between the MCAC Reef Fund and Martin County has produced a number of successful deployments.

TDI. After the ship sunk – what happened next?
A post deployment dive occurred within an hour of the deployment by TDI Certified technical divers. Also, cameras strapped in various locations on the deck documented the real time sinking experience. These videos are available to watch at There were also about 30 boats on site watching the deployment.

TDI. What happens now? Is the site open to all divers? What will happen to it over time?
It is a technical dive and should only be done by skilled divers. This particular wreck was not constructed as a sport diving destination. The focus of reefs constructed at these depths is for fishing and bringing more fish into the area. This wreck was sunk in an area that has had other deployments in the past, and these also have become sites for technical diving. Other artificial reefs have been deployed that are in the sport diving range, and can be located at The ship will age over time, however there are vessels off the Martin County coast that were deployed over 30 years ago, and they remain in structurally sound condition. Thick walled, steel vessels like this one should have an extended lifetime at this depth.

Many thanks to Peter Friedman, Kurt Francis, and the rest of the crew at Stuart Scuba –

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