USS Vandenberg Sunk Off Key West For Artificial Reef

In early May I wrote about plans to scuttle the USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a WWII troop carrier and Cold War era spy ship, seven miles off the coast of Key West in order to create the world’s second largest artificial reef for divers. The sinking, which occurred on May 27, 2009, was done by Associated Marine Salvage and was documented by several videographers. One of the best videos, produced by, can be viewed by clicking here (scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link in the paragraph labeled “Vandenberg On The Bottom.”

USS Vandenberg sunk off the coast of Key West. Image courtesy of
USS Vandenberg sunk off the coast of Key West. Image courtesy of also has some fascinating, short clips, including videos from cameras mounted on the ship during the sinking. I was surprised by these views. I expected a big bang from the multiple, simultaneous detonations but it was more like a series of soft pops followed by puffs of smoke. And then, down she went – fast! Thirteen years of work to bring her to Key West ended in less than two minutes.

The Vandenberg is already attracting interest from divers all over the world and is sure to be a boon to tourism. I look forward to watching the ship morph into a living reef, and on some not-too-distant day, comparing my photo of the docked ship to one of its coral-encrusted sunken hull.

5 thoughts on “USS Vandenberg Sunk Off Key West For Artificial Reef”

  1. I can’t wait to dive this oasis with all it’s growth helping to rebuild reefs for numerous marine species. Now that one ship is sunk maybe our government can do the right thing and add a dozen more unused vessels maybe here at the USS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenburg, or in the Dry Tortugas creating a new place at our most remote National Park. This will bring visitors to the Florida Keys and can also bring new opportunities for marine biologists studying from universities. We have to encourage growth due to the damage in the Gulf of Mexico through our failures. I’m a commercial diver and NAUI master scuba diver that would like to see our American government build something beautiful from our old scrap ships unused. Money will come back to the government in taxes with people spending money to visit these places and increase tourism.

  2. We went down to Key West for a weekend recently on the Express ferry out of Fort Myers Beach, and had a chance to dive the Vandenburg while we were down there. Key West is definately a beautiful dive, and the wreck is going to grow into a must dine, it was simply beautuiful the day we dove, with tons of marine life. Can’t wait to go back.


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