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The remains of a steel hull U.S. Naval vessel lie in 25 feet of water five miles west of Key West. This vessel was a decommissioned U.S. Navy ship being towed by Chet Alexander Marine Salvage of Key West to a deep water location to be sunk as an artificial reef. While enroute she grounded and before she could be refloated a storm broke up her hull. The site is locally known as Alexander's Wreck.

A diver swims underneath the Amesbury's bow
The Amesbury's bow. (Photo: David Whall/ Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)

The Amesbury (DE 66) was launched and commissioned in 1943 as a destroyer escort. She was named for Lt. Stanton Amesbury who was killed in enemy action over Casablanca on November 9, 1942 while attached to an aviation squadron in the Atlantic Area. The Amesbury's first assignment was duty with the Atlantic Convoy 7, followed by participation in the Normandy invasion. Returning to the United States in August, 1944, she was assigned temporary duty with the Fleet Sonar School in Key West. In 1945, she was one of the 104 destroyer escorts converted to high speed transports at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Amesbury was then assigned hull number APD-46 and equipped with a five-inch turret gun and three twin-mount forty-millimeter antiaircraft guns. Proceeding to the Pacific she supported landings in Korea and China during 1945, carrying Underwater Demolition Team Twelve. The Amesbury returned to Florida in 1946, was decommissioned and never performed active service again. Chet Alexander Marine Salvage of Key West purchased her in 1962 for scrap.

A diver swims underneath the Amesbury's bow.
A diver swims underneath the Amesbury's bow. (Photo: David Whall/ Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)

The remains of the Amesbury consist of two sections of hull and superstructure lying 200 yards apart. The southern section contains the remains of the bow and port side. The northern section of the wreck consists of the stern and starboard side. Fifty feet behind the stem of the bow is the five-inch gun mount behind a semicircular shield. Behind that is the twin forty-millimeter Bofors-style antiaircraft gun mount on an elevated pedestal. A debris field on the east side of the hull contains pieces of the collapsed upper hull, bridge, and superstructure. The northern section of wreckage includes the stern, another Bofors gun and mount, miscellaneous debris, and heavy Welin davits used to transport and launch four Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel boats.

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