USS Vandenberg on the Final Stages to be Artificial Reef

by OldSailor on May 4, 2009

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Key_West 66 year old ex USS Gen H.S.Vandenberg (AGM 10, ex-MC 702, AP 145) is on the final stages to become an artificial reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The vessel reached her final destination Key West, Florida under tow on April 22. The vessel is getting ready to be sunk at a site about 6 miles south-southeast of Key West in 140 feet of water. About $8.5 million has been spent for preparation and cleanup operations to convert her as an artificial reef.

Now preparations are going on to sink the vessel by cutting holes to admit water evenly and to vent air when the ship is sunk. Sinking of the vessel is expected between May 21 and June 1 depending on completion of work, weather/sea conditions and harbor traffic.

Some interesting features of USS Vandenberg are:

  • The 523-foot long vessel is one of the top three largest ships in the world ever to be intentionally sunk as an artificial reef.
  • The vessel was
    • commissioned as a troop transport ship, USS General Harry Taylor (AP-145) on May 8,1944.
    • later transferred to the US Army Transport Service and placed in commission as USAT General Harry Taylor.
    • later served as USNS General Harry Taylor (T-AP-145) in 1950s.
    • later was transferred to U.S.Air Force in 1961 as Missile Range Instrumentation Ship and renamed as General Hoyt S. Vandenberg.
    • reacquired by the Navy in 1964, and was placed in service by the Military Sealift Command (MSC) as USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10).
    • decommissioned and struck from the Naval Register in 1993.
  • As a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship, was used to defend against missile attacks, to track rocket launches.The vessel also tracked blastoffs of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and even early Space Shuttle launches. USS_Vandenberg
  • The vessel also played a role as a Russian science ship in the 1999 motion picture “Virus”.
  • The vessel was approved for transfer to the State of Florida in 2007 to be used as an artificial reef.
  • Five tug boats were used to get the Vandenberg out of Norfolk Harbor on April 12 and one tug boat was used to tow her to Key West.
  • The vessel reached Key West, after 1,100 mile voyage from Norfolk, Virginia.
  • It has taken around 75,000 man-hours to prepare the vessel environmentally safe to sink. Preparations include removal of
    • 71 cubic yards of asbestos
    • 900,000 feet of wiring
    • 193 tons of materials that contained potentially carcinogenic substances
    • 46 tons of refuse
    • 300 pounds of mercury-containing materials
    • 185 drums of paint chips in 55-gallon drums
  • Stevens Institute of Technology’s Center for Maritime Systems carried out a study with a scale model of the vessel to find out how to sink Vandenberg safely.

View more photographs of ex USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg from Keysnet.

View some interesting video clips:

Read more from U.S.Navy, Artificial Reefs of the Keys, USS Vandenberg,

Posts in MarineBuzz on this day a year before:

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Update: May 18

USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg is getting ready to be sunk on May 27. View the preparations taking place for this activity, from The Pentagon Channel.

Update: May 28

USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg was sunk on May 27 to become an artificial reef. The massive vessel sank in one minute and 54 seconds. View an amazing photograph and read more from FWC News.

View some amazing video clips:

Update: June 06

Two days after the USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg was sunk, a group of divers including writers, videographers, photographers, project organizers and Keys officials visited the vessel underwater. What did they find ? Read more from Keys Voices.

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