ERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — A two-year community project to turn a decommissioned ship into a reef and dive site has been completed.
- 'Ghost Ship' now sitting off coast of Hernando Beach
- Ship turned into reef and dive site
- BELOW: Social media posts show progress throughout the day
A "Ghost Ship" is now sitting on the bottom of the Gulf, just off Hernando Beach. It is now part of Bendickson Reef, which is 20 miles off the coast.
The ship is the Adventure Coast's first wreck dive site.
"We recently changed our name to the "Adventure Coast," and we felt like we needed some things to attract people to the Adventure Coast," said Frank Santo, chairman of the Hernando County Port Authority.
The ship had been sitting in Hernando Beach for 14 years.
"It was built in California. It was built in '84 or '86. It plied off the coast of Mexico, South America, the Bahamas, and Florida for years,” Santo said.
"How it got to Hernando Beach, we don’t know," he added.
Over the past two years, the Port Authority has cleaned it out, thanks to volunteers who put in hundreds of hours of work into the project, along with generous donations.
"This is going to attract more of the same type of fish that go into the main reef, but hopefully in larger schools, and it will also attract different types of fish that don’t go on the more flat-based reefs," Santo said.
Crews even cut holes in the ship, hoping that turtles will use the space as well.
"Any other boat might not have worked, but because this boat is made out of ferro cement, that’s the key to this whole thing," he explained.
And after two years of preparation, the project was completed on Tuesday, April 23.
Crews spent the day towing the ship to its permanent location and sunk it by pumping water into the ship. It took just over 30 minutes to sink.
The county is asking divers to wait a few months before exploring the sunken ship to give the reef time to develop.
"I’m a diver myself, and I’m really looking forward to swimming in and out of this wreck," Santo added.