May 16, 2009

She's going down!

I don't know if you guys have heard of this, but the city of Key West is about to intentionally sink the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg as an artificial reef at the end of May. The ship had been traded between the navy and army back in the 40's and 50's as a transport ship, later it was given its final duties as a missile range instrumentation ship in the 60's. The ship was then retired in 1983, so it's been a rust pile ever since. Heres a picture of it when it looked a little newer.

Yeah, never thought I'd be on a boat. It's a big blue watery road (yeah)
-T Pain

Apparently a group of big wigs in the city of Key West bought the vessel off the auction block up in Virginia. And a few weeks ago, they sailed the ship down the coast to its final home in Key West.

Why do people want more reef material when they are surrounded by an abundance of beautiful, productive, natural coral reefs? My guess is that they noticed the economy boost in Pensacola, FL after the mothballed aircraft carrier, USS Oriskany was sunk as an artificial reef 2 years ago. They also mentioned that the ship would pull the recreational divers away from the natural coral reefs, reducing further incidental damage to the reefs. But something tells me its more about the dolla dolla bills from diving tourism.

Here's a video of the sinking of the Oriskany:

I love how they make it so unbashedly patriotic. U-S-A! U-S-A!

When they prepared the Oriskany before it was sunk, they stripped out the ship and removed most of the toxic substances, including the bulkhead insulation that contained PCBs. The thousands of miles of wiring in the ship also contained hundreds of pounds of PCBs, but it was too costly to remove.

Hi guys! I give you dermal and ocular lesions, irregular menstrual cycles, fatigue, headache, cough, unusual skin sores, and a lowered immune response.

Sure there are good things that come from creating artificial reefs from retired military ships: increasing diving revenue, providing habitat for fish species (whether it's productive habitat or not, thats another story), and creating jobs. But there are as many problems as there are benefits: leaching toxins or other contaminents of concern, shifting or destructive debris from hurricanes, displacement of marine species, and disruption of migratory patterns.

The navy is looking to reduce its inactive fleet, and it costs less to sink the ships rather than scrap them. I think we're going to see more and more military ships finding their way to the bottom of the ocean, and I'm convinced that the Navy has found its new junkyard.

cool article with some pics of spectacular shipwrecks:

1 comment:

  1. there's an episode of bones about this (detective trapped on submarine that's being sunk for use as an artificial reef). pretty interesting... i didn't used to watch bones, but now it comes on before my dancing show, so it's becoming a regular thing.