KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The new Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg artificial reef should open for public diving Saturday morning, project officials said Thursday.
The installation of mooring buoys was completed Thursday afternoon, according to Kent Edwards of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
However, efforts are needed to secure the vessel’s two iconic tracking antenna dishes that were torn off their pedestals, but remained tethered to the ship by stabilizing cables, when the ship was scuttled Wednesday.
Scholl said a contractor is scheduled to arrive on site early Friday morning to begin securing the dishes.
“We want a safe as possible dive experience for the public,” said Jim Scholl, Key West City Manager and Vandenberg project administrator. “We certainly understand that divers are anxious to explore the wreck, but ask that they be patient and wait one more day.”
Until Saturday, a 500-yard security zone will remain around the wreck site. No unauthorized vessels or divers are permitted in the security zone.
The Vandenberg is situated about seven miles south of Key West. The bottom of the ship’s hull rests on sand in depths that average 150 feet. But the ship is so massive that the superstructure begins about 45 feet below the surface.
For additional details AND to watch a video of the Vandenberg sinking, go to www.Fla-Keys.com