The Controlled Demolition Inc. team, experts in building implosions, pair up with Associated Marine Salvage Inc. to sink the Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a retired US Navy spyship, off the coast of Key West, Florida. Parallax Film Productions profiles this unprecedented explosive demolition mission.

Controlled Demolition Inc. teams up with Associated Marine Salvage Inc. to sink the Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a retired US Navy spyship.

After serving the United States for decades, the Vandenberg has a new mission: to become the second largest artificial reef in the world. But to get the former military vessel upright on the floor of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Mark Loizeaux and his crew will have to take a crash course in ship scuttling. It is a daunting task this Blowdown team has never attempted before. And the Navy designed this 160-metre, 15,000-tonne warship to be unsinkable. It will take a daring shaped charge system and precise explosive engineering to avoid an incident like the USS Spiegel Grove.

The Vandenberg was built at the Kaiser shipyard in Richmond, California, in 1943, and originally commissioned as a World War II troop transport ship. During the 1950s the vessel was used to move refugees from Europe and Australia to America. Then in the 1960s the Air Force retrofitted the Vandenberg to track missiles and survey the Atlantic Missile Range in the height of the Cold War. The vessel was also used to monitor rockets and early space shuttle launches. The former spyship was featured in the 1999 movie “Virus,” starring Donald Sutherland and Jamie Lee Curtis. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects the Vandenberg artificial reef will inject about $7.5 million into the Monroe County economy every year.