Crew runs for it as Navy ship destined to be reef off Keys sinks hours early [YIKES!!!]greenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Crew runs for it as Navy ship destined to be reef off Keys sinks hours early
By SABRA AYRES, Associated Press, Posted May 17 2002, 11:04 AM EDT
KEY LARGO -- A Navy ship set to be scuttled with explosives Friday sank hours before the scheduled time, turning upside down in the process.
The 510-foot Spiegel Grove started going down Friday morning as workers who were preparing it for its underwater grave were still aboard, officials said.
They were ordered to abandon ship and a tugboat carried them to safety.
The crews had been pumping the ship with water for a few days to make it sit low in the water so the actual sinking process would be easier.
But by midmorning the stern of the ship already was under, said Pat Dodson, general manager of John Pennekamp State Park, near the site six miles off the coast.
By 10:30 a.m., the ship had sunk and ``turned turtle'' -- ending up upside down on the sea bottom -- said George Garrett, director of marine resources for Monroe County.
It wasn't immediately known whether the ship's position on the ocean floor would effect its use as a diving site.
Marine biologists have said the Spiegel Grove will create the largest intentionally sunk artificial reef in the world 130 feet deep in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Scuba drivers are expected to flock to the sunken ship and increase an annual $33-million industry here by as much as 20 percent, officials said.
The 46-year-old ship is named for the Ohio home of President Rutherford B. Hayes. It was decommissioned in 1989 and sat in a Navy shipyard in Virginia for almost eight years. The Navy used the ship during various Cold War missions from 1955 to 1989, including the 1983 Grenada invasion. The ship could hold as many as 350 sailors and 300 marines.
In 1994, the ship caught the attention of Key Largo tourism officials and diving enthusiasts, who wanted to sink it off the Keys to create an artificial reef.
The ship had to pass various state and federal environmental inspections before the town could get permission to sink the Spiegel Grove. The ship had to be thoroughly cleaned of all toxic chemicals. Hatch doors had to be welded shut. Galley floors were swept and cleared of debris to prevent any escaping items from polluting the ocean.
An industrial demolition company flushed the ship's fuel tanks and removed 400,000 feet of cables to comply with regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
By pumping water into the ship's stern, bow and sides equally, the engineers tried to lower the Spiegel Grove evenly.
``It's a lot like trying to lower a glass into a tank of water,'' Ray Salopek, a retired Navy captain helping to sink the ship, said Thursday. ``If the glass has a little water in it, it make is easier to drop it straight down.''
Without the water to balance the ship, the Spiegel Grove could drop to one side, he said.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
[I wonder what's gonna happen to the unused explosives they were installing...]
-- Anonymous, May 17, 2002