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    Divers Race on Key West Shipwreck

    Chad Newman

    by Chad Newman

    A Sunday dive on the world’s second-largest ship ever sunk as an artificial reef might have have appeared like the set of a James Bond movie, but it was actually the first event of the 2011 Formula H2O-Underwater Scooter Racing season.

    The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg became an underwater racetrack for competitors using diver propulsion vehicles during the Vandenberg Underwater Grand Prix staged off the Florida Keys.

    Divers using DPVs raced around the Vandenberg’s superstructure, competing in multiple classes to achieve the fastest speeds while staying within safety parameters. Rick Iossi won the event’s expedition class and Kelly Friend of Key West won the recreation class, both racing faster than their competitors around the superstructure of the 523-foot-long former U.S. Air Force missile tracking ship that was scuttled almost two years ago seven miles south of Key West.

    The bottom of the Vandenberg’s hull rests on sand in approximately 150 feet of water, but the ship is so massive that its superstructure begins about 45 feet below the surface.