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RSW Living Magazine

An Eco-friendly Memorial: Eternal Reefs Pays Tribute to Submariners

Jun 03, 2022 07:02PM ● By GLENN OSTLE

For the past 25 years, Sarasota-based Eternal Reefs Inc. has helped grieving families by combining the cremated remains of their loved ones into eco-friendly artificial “reef balls,” which are then placed in permitted ocean locations to create new habitats for sea life. This is a process company CEO George Frankel refers to as “conservation memorialization.” 

“People tell us all the time that they want to ‘give back,’” says Frankel. “Eternal Reefs offers them a way to do just that in a way that benefits both present and future generations.” 

The concept appeals to many types of people, including military veterans, environmentalists, fishermen, sailors, divers, and those who just have a love of the sea and wish to spend their eternity with a front-row seat to all the amazing underwater life going on around them. 

Four years ago Eternal Reefs, along with its partners Reef Innovations and the Reef Ball Foundation, adapted its underwater memorialization concept to establish On Eternal Patrol Memorial Reef, designed to honor the 65 American submarines and more than 4,000 officers and crew that have gone missing since 1915.  

In May 2018 the first six reef memorials were placed on the ocean floor. Since then 67 such memorials have been placed, one for each of the 65 American submarines, and an additional two to honor U.S. Submarine Veterans Inc. (USSVI), an important partner in the project, as well as all those in the submarine service who have lost their lives in nonsinking incidents. 

Each reef ball weighs approximately 3,800 pounds and is marked with a plaque indicating the name of the boat, its best-known last location, and the number of lives lost. 

In 2019, dive teams from Reef Innovations and the Sarasota Police completed properly orienting each memorial to face west, out to sea, and space the reefs four feet apart, following the protocol of all other national veteran cemeteries. 

The project was commemorated with an underwater ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Veteran’s Day in 2019. 

To learn more about this project, go to


Glenn Ostle is a long-time TOTI contributor living in Charlotte, North Carolina. His photos and articles have appeared in a number of dive and travel magazines. View his photography at