It was an event eagerly anticipated by scuba divers who love the Florida Keys and its famed wrecks. Here is how Sport Diver first reported it:
The waters of the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary are about to give birth to a 520-foot, 13,000-ton baby -- the USAFS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg. Yes, you read that correctly. This massive artificial reef, which is scheduled to be sunk in early 2008, comes courtesy of the jet-happy U. S. Air Force, rather than the Navy. I didn't even know the Air Force had ships, let alone such a massive ocean-going vessel. But it did, and now the already world-class collection of wrecks and artificial reefs off the Florida Keys is going to welcome what will instantly become the largest artificial reef in the Keys. Take that, ye swabbies -- the Zoomies from the Air Force are moving in. The Vandenberg, as the reef will be known, promises to be one of the most interesting ships you'll ever explore. The decks are covered with radars, stacks and lots of redoubts for the marine community to take up housekeeping.
The wreck has been scoured clean, and several access holes have been cut into various regions along the superstructure. The plan is to sink the ship in 140 feet with access to the unusual deck profile beginning in just 40 or 50 feet. This will give access to every kind of diver, and whether this is your first wreck dive or your 1,000th, there will plenty of environments to explore. It'll be a great new site for getting your PADI Wreck Specialty too. With a ship of this size, plan on taking several dives just to begin to wrap your head around the immensity of a ship like this in an underwater environment. Also, as with most other wrecks in the Keys, you can expect to see a growing population of marine critters on each and every dive. Word gets out quickly in the undersea world when new housing becomes available.
We love wrecks here at Sport Diver, and we plan to be on hand in Key West to document the event when the final dates are set. Check www.sportdiver.com frequently to find out when we get to deep-six one of the Air Force's finest. Oh, and this is Key West -- as if they don't already have enough reasons to throw a party.