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Page last updated at 21:38 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 22:38 UK

US warship becomes Florida reef

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The moment the General Hoyt S Vandenberg was sunk

A series of controlled explosions has sunk a World War II US troop ship to create an artificial reef off Florida.

The General Hoyt S Vandenberg sank in less than two minutes after experts detonated explosives off Key West.

The ship, 523ft long (160m), settled on the bottom of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Officials hope the reef will attract divers, boosting the economy by $8m (£5m). They also say fish, coral and other marine life will be drawn to it.

"The sinking of the Vandenberg is the best thing to happen in Key West in years," said Mark Rossi, a local businessman who serves as Key West's city commissioner.

The ship was last used by the US Air Force to track missiles and spacecraft.

Workers have spent months stripping the vessel of contaminants such as asbestos, wiring, paint and other potentially toxic substances and debris.



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