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Video: USS Vandenberg Sunk off Key West to Create Artificial Reef


The USAFS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a giant warship used by the military as a troop carrier during World War II and also to shuttle post-war refugees and Holocaust survivors to the U.S., but most recently to track missiles and spacecraft, was sunk off of Key West Wednesday, plunging below the surface in less than two minutes:

Vandenberg2 The Miami Herald reports: "It took 14 years, $8.6 million in mostly public funds, endless volunteer hours navigating 18 government agencies, and a winning auction bid by a local bank on courthouse steps that prevented the ship's purchase by metal scrappers. At 523 feet, the Vandenberg is the second-largest ship ever intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef. The 510-foot USS Spiegel Grove off Key Largo was the largest when it was sunk in 2002. But four years later, it lost that distinction when the 904-foot aircraft carrier USS Oriskany was sunk 24 miles off Pensacola. Key West Mayor Morgan McPherson said the Vandenberg will be a perfect new tourist attraction, calling it 'the southernmost underwater museum on the historic trail of sunken ships in the Keys.'''

Watch the sinking of the Vandenberg, AFTER THE JUMP...

USS Vandenberg [official site]

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  1. That was really quite moving and spectacular.

    Posted by: stephen | May 29, 2009 6:08:36 PM

  2. They should've shown it from the perspective of being on the boat as it sank also. Some on ship cameras would have made this much more awesome.

    Posted by: Lea | May 29, 2009 6:22:03 PM

  3. That's horrible! Think of all the crabs and fishes that thing must of crushed going down. Someone should be arrested.

    Posted by: Bobby Sock | May 29, 2009 6:34:16 PM

  4. Don't worry Bobby, the crabs and fishes know how to swim.

    Posted by: Lea | May 29, 2009 6:44:36 PM

  5. Somehow using the Caribbean off Key West as scrap yard for an old ship seems a bit - well - anti-environmental.

    You know it has all kinds of toxic content - from paint to petroleum. Yukkk!!

    Posted by: Anonymus Rex | May 29, 2009 7:05:46 PM

  6. Not to worry, I read the ship was cleaned of petroleum, etc., and the loose paint removed. Environmental standards are strict for this kind of thing in the Keys. All the nooks and crannies of the ship make excellent habitat for all the crustaceans and corals to take hold after a few years. Then the fish really begin to hang around too. But you're right, there can be a fine line between underwater dumping ground and artificial reef. It's also intended to take some of the pressure off the limited natural reef areas and keep the scuba divers diving and spending their tourist dollars.

    Posted by: castaway | May 29, 2009 8:55:15 PM

  7. Here's the really good news about Key West: Last week Fred Phelps and his hate-infested gang came down here and demonstrated at the KW High School (they have a gay/straight alliance,) the local Synagogue, and at the Navy base (I guess Fred's god hates Jews and the Navy nearly as much as fags,) and the island community decided (in advance) to totally ignore them, thereby denying their fire any oxygen. Their antics didn't even get a mention in the local paper! Meanwhile, the whole world watched the Vandenberg go down. Yeah! BTW: KW's official motto is: "One Human Family"

    Posted by: Barry- Key West | May 30, 2009 5:49:54 PM

  8. Response to Lea (2nd comment, above) National Geographic TV had twenty-odd video cams mounted throughout the ship when she sent down (cameras were retrieved the next day by divers.) That footage will be tastefully edited, I'm sure, and pop up on NGC before too long. Stay tuned!

    Posted by: Barry- Key West | May 30, 2009 5:56:20 PM

  9. Sinking ships as artificial reefs has been a long established procedure - and those ships undergo cleaning at the cost of tens of millions of $$ before they are sunk.

    They provide new habitat, in an area where habitat has been rapidly shrinking from both natural and manmade causes.

    There is no reason to get your drawers all twisted around over this - it's actually a very beneficial process for the underwater environment.

    Posted by: Jim | Jun 1, 2009 4:51:59 PM

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