'Eternal Reefs' in waters off Sarasota create lasting memorials for lost submarines

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This Memorial Day weekend, submariners were honored with a new reef dedication in the Gulf.

Eternal Reefs in Sarasota is very experienced in creating a lasting memorial for a loved one, and when the idea came up about honoring servicemen and women lost at sea, they started working on it.

"We've been working towards creating an artificial reef that's designed specifically to honor all of our lost submarines," said George Frankle, CEO of Eternal Reefs.

That vision to create a reef site to honor lost submarines took shape this week as the first six reef balls were placed.

Each reef ball was marked with the plaque of the vessel lost. Those honored in this first memorial placement included the USS Scorpion and 3 other vessels lost during World War II.  They also placed a marker to recognize submariners lost in non-sinking events, and the pinnacle reef to mark the site. 

The On Eternal Patrol Memorial Reef will ultimately represent 65 U.S. submarines lost since 1900 which in turn represents more than 4,000 lost lives. 

"Our goal long term is to see whether or not the VA might accept the concept of reef memorialization," Frankle said.

The reef project was marked by an official ceremony for those lost at sea as veterans joined in a wreath laying on the waters above the reef site. 

For divers interested in visiting the site, the reef site is 9 miles off Big Pass in 45 feet of water. You can use these coordinates to visit: 27 15.795N by 82 45.505W.