About Southpoint Divers
Key West is home to North America's only living coral reef. Located six miles off the coast of the Florida Keys, the reef is home to millions of living specimens. As the world's 3rd largest barrier reef system the diving offered is extraordinary. During the summer, Key West is known for flat, calm days that lend themselves to the spectacular visibility often excess of 100ft!
The USNS Vandenberg - The USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg is Key West’s newest artificial reef. She lies in 140 feet of water approximately 6 miles SSE of Key West in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). She was originally commissioned as the General Harry Taylor in May 1944 and served as a troop transport in World War II. She was re-commissioned in 1963 as the USAFS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg and began service for the Atlantic Missile Range as a missile tracking ship. In 1983, she was mothballed and transferred to MARAD at the James River fleet in Virginia. Universal Studios used her in 1996 in California for the filming of the motion picture Virus starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland before returned to the James River fleet.
A project that spanned over 14 years was begun by a local dive boat captain, Joe Weatherby, to bring the Vandenberg to Key West and sink her. In 1999 he founded ARK (Artificial Reefs of the Keys) and continued the process of clearing her through all the government agencies for sinking. After years of toil and fund raising the USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg was brought to Key West, FL. and sunk on May 27, 2009.
The ship now is a habitat to all the different species of fish and coral that are here in the Florida Keys. Research is being conducted on her through the FKNMS which will determine her impact on the environment. As scuba divers, we explore the wreck with amazement as we see all the developing stages of coral growth and fish life and wonder at the 65 year history of the vessel itself.