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U.S.S. Vandenberg goes down off Florida, becomes artificial reef

May 27, 2009 |  2:14 pm

So long U.S.S. Vandenberg, hello artificial reef.

The soundless video attached to this blog is one of many being circulated in the aftermath of today's sinking of the 523-foot Vandenberg seven miles off Key West, Fla., within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The retired World War II-era U.S. Air Force missile tracking ship, which is resting at 140 feet on a mostly sandy bottom, will become a haven for marine life, boost scuba-diving opportunities and hopefully boost tourism in the Keys region.

At least one scuba-diving operation, Bonsai Diving, already is booking trips to explore the scuttled ship. Much of the massive vessel's structure will be accessible to divers 40-50 feet beneath the surface. The long-planned project cost $8.6 million.

The video is courtesy of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. Outposts will try to locate underwater photos of the vessel on Thursday.

-- Pete Thomas