Massive ship to be scuttled

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A former World War II troop transport carrier, which also served during the Cold War, is set to become Florida’s largest artificial reef.

In about a year the 553-foot Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg will be sunk in about 140 feet of water off Key West, Fla., the U.S. Maritime Administration reports in a news release. In addition to becoming an attraction for divers, the carrier will serve as an underwater classroom for students at the Florida KeysCommunity College.

The carrier’s sinking will be “good for the economy, good for the environment and a great deal for U.S. taxpayers,” MARAD administrator Sean T. Connaughton says in an Associated Press news report. The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg is being stored at the James River Reserve Fleet off FortEustis in Newport News, Va. The retired navy and merchant vessels moored there are often referred to as the “Ghost Fleet.”

Within weeks the carrier will be towed to a shipyard in Norfolk, Va., where the vessel will be stripped of hazardous materials such as asbestos, lead paint and waste oil, the Associated Press report states.

The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg was commissioned in 1944 under the name Gen. Harry Taylor, MARAD says. After serving in World War II and the Hungarian Revolution, the carrier was overhauled in 1961 and made into a sophisticated missile-tracking vessel for duty in the Atlantic. She was decommissioned in 1983.

Jason Fell