Step 3: Moving and cleaning the ship
Sometimes the ships set to wreck still work, and can be floated from one port to another for about $75,000. That covers the cost of the captain, crew, fuel, and port charges. That is, if it runs. If it doesn't run, the vessel needs to be towed, which costs about twice as much.
The Newtown Creek was towed to a shipyard on the Miami River, where a cleaning and salvage company cleared the boat of everything that could possibly be a pollutant. Because artificial reefs essentially become part of the underwater ecosystem, the ships must be extensively cleaned and gutted before they're sent to the ocean floor.
This includes removing anything that could deteriorate, such as electrical components, rubber, wire with a rubber wiring, furniture, cloth, and other degradable materials. Anything that contains petroleum, gasoline, or oil has to be cleaned and removed. Any PCBs or asbestos have to be removed or encapsulated. Generators, heads of engines, and anything that touched gas or oil has to be removed and chemically cleaned so no fuel gets into the water. The salvage company sells most of the removed material for scrap.
In the case of the Newtown Creek, the process took about three months of a crew working 12 to 16 hours a day. It cost about $275,000.