In 2009 the USS HOYT VANDENBERG found its permanent home port resting in the waters 7 miles offshore of Key West after several years of being commissioned into the US Navy and Air Force as a war ship, a transport ship and lastly, a missile tracking ship.
At over 520 feet and 13,000 tons, this is the second largest ship in the world ever intentionally sunk for the purpose of creating an artificial reef. It is also the largest wreck in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and has become a world-class diving thrill destination.
Marine life began colonizing immediately after, and the ship is now home to countless marine species, and is a recreational, educational and scientific resource.
At its tallest point of 100 feet from keel, much of this superstructure rests at the 40-60 feet below the surface. The keel and the four 8-ton anchors now rest at 140 feet. The shallower structures include the 30 x 10 foot crow’s nest, the great 40 foot dish antennas, and the tops of the bridge and communications center.
The four open decks at approximately 70-100 feet are penetratable horizontally with 8 by 10 foot openings on each side. There are 18 stair towers, 11 elevator shafts and cargo hold shafts to give divers vertical access to the wreck; all perfect for the open water certified diver and above.
The 25 foot tall rudder and prop is a fantastic deep advanced dive at 140 feet. The vast structure now virtually teems with marine life, inside and out, and is a must on every diver’s list who visits/lives in the Florida Keys, as one of the most awesome dives you’ll ever do; and right here in our own USA’s backyard.