WWII-era ship becomes sunken reef

May 27, 2009 9:20:21 AM PDT
A ship last used by the U.S. Air Force to track missiles and spacecraft has been sunk in the Florida Keys, creating a new artificial reef for sport divers and anglers. The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg sank in less than two minutes Wednesday morning, after demolition experts triggered a series of explosives that lined the both sides of the ship.

Key West City Manager Jim Scholl says he believes the 17,000-ton, 523-foot-long ship settled on the bottom of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in an upright position, but he was waiting for confirmation from divers.

The ship was first built as a cargo ship in World War II. Officials in the Florida Keys expect it to generate up to $8 million in tourism-related revenue, mostly from divers and related businesses.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - A ship last used by the U.S. Air Force to track missiles and spacecraft will soon become the world's second-largest intentionally sunk artificial reef.

Crews plan to sink the decommissioned Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg on Wednesday morning about seven miles off Key West. Officials hope it will attract fish and divers and relieve recreational pressure on nearby natural reefs.

Explosives will be detonated to flood the 17,000-ton, 523-foot-long ship that was first built as a cargo ship in World War II. It's expected to settle on the sandy bottom in 140 feet of clear water.

Officials in the Florida Keys expect it to generate up to $8 million in tourism-related revenue, mostly from divers and related businesses.

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