History of the Vandenberg

The USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, as it was known at the time of its sinking as an artificial reef on 27 May, 2009, was originally named the USS Gen. Harry Taylor. The transport vessel was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract on 22 February, 1943. It was officially acquired by the Navy on 29 March, 1944, and was commissioned as the USS Gen. Harry Taylor in just over a month later. It was designed to be a troop transport during the second World War. The General Harry Taylor set off from San Francisco on its first mission to New Guinea on 23 June, 1944, carrying basic troop reinforcements. Throughout the following year, the transport vessel would continue to make routine trips to the area, carrying troops and supplies, until the war in Japan came to an end on 5 August, 1945. Following the conclusion of the war, the General Harry Taylor continued to be used as a transport vessel to carry returning soldiers from the Pacific Asian campaign and the European campaign back to the U.S. It did so up until it was decommissioned In Baltimore, Maryland on 13 June, 1946.

The General Harry Taylor went out of service on 19 September, 1958, before being reacquired by the U.S. Air Force on 15 July, 1961, and being renamed the USAFS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg. The namesake for the vessel was famed WWII Air Force general Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg. The ship was only in service for three years before the Navy reacquired it on 1 July, 1964, thus changing its name once again to USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg. Between 1964 and 1983, the Vandenberg was set to a variety of tasks, such as testing missile ranges, as well as missile and spacecraft tracking. In 1998, a horror film called Virus actually used the Vandenberg in a few of its scenes. The Vandenberg was finally put out of order in 2008. A sinking of the ship was originally intended to take place on 15 May, 2008, but was unable to do so due to the failure of its owners to pay shipyard fees. The ship was later put up for auction and was bought and then transferred to the city of Key West, where it was finally sunk on 27 May, 2009.

The Vandenberg was sunk to create an artificial reef, and is known to be the second largest of its kind in the world, while it is the largest in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Today, main visitors flock to the key west area every year to dive down to the beautiful and serene artificial reef that was once the Vandenberg. This specific site is believed by many to be among the best areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for Key West Diving.