Former war ship now artificial reef for divers

June 4, 2009

The Vandenberg pictured in her glory years afloat.

A 523-foot former missile tracking ship now rests on the bottom of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to become an artificial reef for divers.

The sinking of 17,000 ton USAFS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg seven miles off the Florida Keys last week took just two minutes after 42 small charges were detonated.

The Vandenberg started life in 1943 as the USS General Harry Taylor (AP-145). She served for a time as an army transport before being acquired back by the Navy in 1950. She was renamed USAFS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg in 1963 after transfer to the U.S. Air Force. She was then reacquired by the Navy in 1964, and finally sold on the auction block for the Florida Keys project.

During its service, the Vandenberg tracked U.S. space launches off Cape Canaveral, monitored U.S. defense missile test launches and eavesdropped on Russian missile launches during the Cold War.

The sinking of the Vandenberg was designed to take recreational dive pressure off natural coral reefs.

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