The Vandenberg Becomes an Underwater Art Gallery (Again)!

In conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the May 27, 2009, sinking of the 159-meter (523-foot) USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Austrian art photographer Andreas Franke placed a 24-piece art exhibit, highlighting the plastic danger to our life-giving ocean waters.

Andreas Franke

This exhibit, titled “Plastic Ocean,” is the third exhibit Franke has placed on this unique underwater setting. Plastic Ocean embodies a pictorial resonant message of the destructive nature of plastic and micro-plastics to our oceanic environment. The images he has created show young women, children and babies, literally “drowning” in plastic dumped into our seas. (Andreas says he collected the “trash” he used in only 30 minutes at a local European beach.) The art collection also includes posters enumerating the dangers of this uncontrolled littering of our undersea world.

The individual art pieces are encased in Plexiglas, mounted in stainless steel frames, sealed with silicone, and attached with heavy duty magnets on the port and starboard sides going from the bridge toward the stern, at a depth of about 27 meters (90 feet). The exhibit was placed on the Vandenberg on Friday and Saturday, May 24–25, and it will remain on display until Aug. 25,, 2019. Once removed from their undersea setting, the exhibit will be displayed in Key West with the accumulated ocean salt, algae and microorganisms, which will have “translated” the art in peculiar and unpredictable ways.

Scuba divers looking to log a world-class bucket-list dive, can’t go wrong on diving the world’s second largest vessel intentionally sunk as an artificial reef, located about 11 kilometers (7 miles) south of Key West in nearly 45 meters (150 feet) of water. This former troop transport and platform for monitoring Soviet missile launches has also been the platform for underwater academic research and an underwater military training facility as well as being an economic engine for the City of Key West.


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Dr. Denny Howley is a NAUI instructor and has been diving since 1961. He  was one of the survey divers,  who with metal detectors, swept the planned sink site  to insure suitability for the sinking of the “artificial reef” Vandenberg at its present location. To date he’s logged over 200 dives on the Vandenberg.