INTRUDER AIRCRAFT WRECK
Average Depth: 100 ft.
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an American, twin jet-engine, mid-wing all-weather attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service with the United States Navy and Marine Corps between 1963 and 1997, the Intruder was designed as an all-weather medium attack aircraft to replace the piston-engined Douglas A-1 Skyraider. The Intruder’s large blunt nose and slender tail inspired a number of nicknames, including “Double Ugly”, “The Mighty Alpha Six”, “Iron Tadpole” and also “Drumstick”.
The huge military training presence in St. Augustine during World War II regularly deposited airplanes into the surrounding ocean, and the crashes had littered local waters with an abundance of mini-reefs. Blalock’s reef research dive team helped the county apply for a grant from the Florida State Department of Environmental Protection, which was interested in a study proposed by the dive group: an investigation into local fishermen’s lore that some fish prefer aluminum reefs.
Several retired A-6 airframes were awaited rewinging at the Northrop Grumman facility at St. Augustine Airport, Florida; these were later sunk off the coast of St. Johns County, Florida to form a fish haven named “Intruder Reef”. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Navy gave the Intruder reef project the green light on June 16, 1995, nearly two years after Blalock had first floated the concept, a bulldozer and a backhoe manhandled a barge load of 26 Intruders into the water 25 miles off St. Augustine. Five days later, another 18 followed.
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