Will a Sunken Navy Ship Be the Next (or Only) Great Coral Reef?

By Allison Bond | May 28, 2009 3:34 pm

reefYou might’ve heard that the U.S. Navy has been purposely sinking old ships to make homes for fish—and that research shows this technique could be harmful to underwater ecosystems.

Well, folks at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission apparently haven’t given up on the idea. In fact, they’ve spent 75,000 man-hours and $8.6 million making an artificial reef out of a 17,250-ton, 522-foot long retired Navy ship—the same vessel featured in 1999’s Virus with Donald Sutherland and Jamie Lee Curtis.

The ship, USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, took less than two minutes to sink into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico near Key West, thanks to explosives placed strategically inside the bilge area beneath the water.

If all goes according to the Florida FWC’s plan, the ship will spend at least a century providing a home for fish and other wildlife. Scuba divers can also explore it, helping preserve natural reefs, which are widely threatened by climate change.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see whether the good ship Vandenberg helps or harms the ocean community. In the meantime, snorkeling, anyone?

Related Content:
Discoblog: The Navy’s Old Ships Get a Second Life… As Fish Residences
Discoblog: Sunken Ship Redux: Wreckage May Do More Harm than Good
DISCOVER: Whither the Coral Reefs?

Image: flickr.com/dMap Travel Guide 

MORE ABOUT: ecosystem, Ocean, pollution
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