By Dorn Martell

A red flare, a few puffs of smoke and a low rumble. Two minutes later the Hoyt S. Vandenberg slipped below the waves, seven miles off Key West. I was fortunate to be among a group of journalists from all over the world who were covering this historical event on Wednesday. The sinking went off without a hitch, with only one small delay – an endangered sea turtle was spotted in the area and the demolition crew had to wait until she was safely out of the way. It was in this spirit that the Vandenberg began her new career as an artificial reef in The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Her history included tracking spacecraft for NASA and monitoring missile launches during the Cold War. She even starred in the movie “Virus”. And though she went down in less than two minutes, it was really the result of 14 years of work that got her where she is today.
“Now it’s time to charter a dive boat and go see her” said Joe Weatherby, who was beaming as he jumped on to the Fury and met with reporters. This is a great addition to The Florida Keys Wreck Treck and will soon be home to everything from Goliath Grouper on the bottom to Sailfish and Marlin on top. Look out for new ads by Tinsley and The Monroe County Tourist Development Council (The Florida Keys & Key West) promoting diving on the second largest ship in the world that was intentionally sunk to become a living reef. To read more about the Vandenberg go to