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
  • Grant H

    Interesting idea. I quite like the creative thinking here.
    But, if it does lead to some sort of coral mono-culture that threatens the diverse native varieties of corals, I can see how that would be very regrettable in a number of ways.
    It’s done now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  • http://www.irdomain.com john brightman

    HI looks very interesting! bookmarked your blog. john brightman

  • http://www.brianlang.ca Brian Lang

    This is NOT a new concept. Ships have been sunk as reefs for decades now…

  • Bruce Ekstrand

    Yes, marine life loves these things. So do divers. Does anyone have info. on the many old battleships the Navy sunk in the Chesapeake Bay?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »