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Old aircraft carrier sunk to form barrier reef



1. Explosions go off on aircraft carrier
2. Wide of ship and and other boats watching the sinking
3. Ship sinking into the gulf
STROYLINE:
The USS Oriskany sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday after the Navy set off explosions on the retired aircraft carrier to make the world’s largest created reef.
The rusting ship completed its 212-foot (64-meter) plunge about 45 minutes after the detonations, it was first predicted to take up to five hours.
Clouds of brown and gray smoke rose in the sky after more than 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms) of plastic explosives went off and could be heard up to a 1.6 kilometres away (one mile).
Hundreds of Korean and Vietnam War veterans watched their 888-foot (270 meters) former ship from charter boats 38 kilometres (23 miles) off the coast of Pensacola Beach, Florida.
The Oriskany, nearly three American football fields in length, is the first ship set for reefing under the Navy’s pilot program to dispose of old warships.
After nearly two years of delays due to hurricanes and environmental permitting problems, local leaders hope the vessel will provide a long-awaited economic infusion from sport divers and fishermen.
The sinking cost 20 (m) million US dollars.
A 2004 Florida State University study estimated Escambia County, Florida, would see 92 (m) million US dollars a year in economic benefits from an artificial reef.
Marine wildlife experts planned to monitor waters near the sink site.
A Navy official said sport divers won’t be allowed on the Oriskany site for at least 48 hours after the sinking, and that Navy divers will first examine the ship and determine its final position.
The Oriskany was commissioned in 1950, served through the Korean and Vietnam wars and was decommissioned in 1976.
The ship was among those used by former President John F. Kennedy as a show of force in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis.
Twelve Oriskany pilots became North Vietnamese prisoners of war, including John McCain, now a Republican senator from Arizona.
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