Deal aims to right 'sunken' ship
510-foot craft to become artificial reef
KEY LARGO, Florida (CNN) -- Business leaders in Key Largo signed a deal with an underwater salvage company Sunday aimed at righting a sunken ship so it can be used to create an artificial reef.
The ship, a decommissioned Navy landing ship dock named the Spiegel Grove, sank unexpectedly last Friday and landed on the ocean floor of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Before the 510-foot craft can be used to create a reef, it must be turned right side up.
The Spiegel Grove is now sitting in about 130 feet of water with its bow hull jutting out of the water, about six miles off Key Largo.
"Our intent is to do what we started to do almost eight years ago," said Stephen Frink, a project organizer and member of the city's Chamber of Commerce Artificial Reef Committee. "We want to put this vessel on the bottom, where it's supposed to be, upright, and to create the world's best artificial reef dive."
Heavy air-lift bags and air injection to clear water from the hull will be used to lift the ship from the bottom, said Joe Farrell, president of the salvage company hired for the job.
"After that we'll use tug boats and the positive assistance of current to try to roll it," he said.
Because the ship was stripped of contaminants before it was anchored to the sandy floor, it poses no environmental threat, said Lt. Commander Dave Score, Upper Keys regional manager for the sanctuary.
Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Artificial Reef Committee
NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
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