New artificial reef in Florida
USS Mohawk becomes latest attraction for divers in the Sunshine State
A World War 2 Coastguard cutter has become the latest underwater attraction sunk off the coast of Florida.
The USS Mohawk saw active service in the 1930s and 40s off New Jersey and in the Atlantic as far north as Newfoundland and Greenland. Following the war, she was decommissioned in 1948 and sold for use as a pilot boat on the Delaware river – a role that would last 30 years.
Florida has an active artificial reef programme
However, since 2006 the USS Mohawk has sat berthed in Key West, quietly rusting away, and destined to become an expensive liability. Owners feared she might sink at her moorings.
So they decided to give the vessel away. Luckily the state of Florida has quite an active artificial reef programme, and has been sinking objects since the 1990s.
As with all ships facing a deliberate scuttling, Mohawk was cleaned up and hazardous substances were removed. From a diver’s perspective the 165-foot vessel was made as safe as possible, as well as authentic: even the life rafts were left intact.
On July 2nd she was in position 28 miles off the south west coast of Florida, near Sanibel Island.
Explosive charges detonated and sent debris high into the air – and the Mohawk to the bottom. Safety divers soon ascertained that she rests upright on the bottom in a very accessible 30 metres of water.
Officials say that Florida’s artificial reefs bring millions of tourist dollars into the area each year, by divers keen to visit the sites as well as sport fishermen. The Vandenburg in Key West and aircraft carrier USS Oriskany are two notable success stories.
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