U.S.S. VANDENBERG, Florida Keys
Maximum Depth: 145 feet
Minimum Depth: 40 feet
The U.S.S. Vandenberg wreck,
sometimes referred to locally as “The Vandy,” but with a full title of “USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10)” was retired in 1983, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1993. A group of banks and financiers from Key West bought the vessel off the auction block and it was docked at the East Quay Pier of Key West Harbor.
The Vandenberg was deployed by Key West-based economic development company Reefmakers. Beginning in 1996, Reefmakers set out to create an artificial reef that benefited the local economy and ecosystem of whichever city it was set to be deployed in. The Vandenburg was eventually sunk 27 May 2009 and is the second-largest artificial reef in the world, after the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Oriskany.
The 520 foot long, 100 foot tall vessel offers a solid 100 ft (30 m) of relief with dive profiles for everyone from novice divers to advanced technical and wreck-penetration divers. There are seven mooring buoys on the Vandenberg which are needed to be dived to get a complete picture of the wreck. The Vendenburg is unique in its accessibility, with a large variety of dive-able structures between 40 and 140 feet in depth. It must be emphasized, however, that while the Vandenberg wreck is relatively accessible, it is a very complex structure subject to strong currents and divers should always stay within the limits of their training and experience.
The charter boat ride from Key West is a good haul, so remember to take your sea sickness tablets if you’re at all prone. To find out which dive charter boats are going to visit the Vandenberg wreck and other wrecks, visit Scuba Schedules and navigate to the Lower Keys scuba diving region.