The USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg sank beneath the waves off the Florida Coast near Key West on its way to becoming the second largest intentionally sunk artificial reef in the world. The Vandenberg has had a varied and fascinating history.
She was built as a troop transport for the US Army and named the USS General Harry Taylor in 1943. In 1950 she was reacquired by the US Navy. In 1961 was transferred to the US Air Force and renamed the USAFS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg in 1963 in honor of the former Air Force Chief of Staff. She was converted to a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship used to track missiles and space flights and subsequently transferred back to the Navy in 1964. She was finally retired in 1983.
In 1998 the ship had a feature role in the movie
Virus, a horror/sci-fi film in which she played a Russian vessel
known as the Akademik Vladislav Volkov. Reportedly some of
the Cyrillic lettering applied for the film is still visible on the
The cost of the project is about $8.6 million to clean the ship. Expected annual income from diving the wreck is estimated to be around $8 million. This is not only an effort to attract tourism, but make environmentalists happy by turning the ship into an artificial reef. The $8.6 million to clean the ship went into the removal of 1 million feet of wire, 1,500 vent gaskets, watertight doors, 81 bags of asbestos, 193 tons of other potentially cancer causing materials, 46 tons of garbage, 300 lb of mercury, and 185 55-gallon drums of paint chips. As you can see, every effort to not interfere with the environment has been taken.
And now this well traveled old lady will serve to
delight fish and divers alike for years to come in her new home as
an artificial reef.