The Ana Cecilia once brought humanitarian supplies from Miami to Cuba. More recently, it was used to smuggle drugs into the United States from Cuba. As of Wednesday, it will now be home to sea life just off the coast of the Singer Island.
The 170 foot cargo ship was sunk Wednesday morning after a crew unplugged eight of its portholes. It took about 15 minutes to seek the 85 feet to the bottom of the ocean and will now serve as an artificial reed, diving attraction, and underwater memorial.
"It gives me great pleasure knowing that a cargo ship once used to smuggle illicit drugs into our country is now being turned into an artificial reef here in Florida," said Diane Sabatino, director of field operations for Miami and Tampa for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Built back in 1972, the Ana Cecilia made national and international headlines in 2012 when it made a humanitarian trip to Cuba, the first documented trip from U.S. soil in over 50 years. More recently though, the boat had been used to traffic drugs into the country. In September of 2015, federal agents found 386 bricks of cocaine valued at more than $10 million aboard the ship. The ship had been Customs and Border Patrol possession until they recently decided to donate it to Palm Beach County to be turned into an artificial reef.
Before being sunk, the county added plaques to the ship's wheelhouse to honor several boaters lost at sea recently. Austin Stephanos, Perry Cohen, Fernandes Jones, Willis Bell, and Jaden Jones all had memorial plaques added.
The artificial reefs are frequented by sea turtles, snapper, and Goliath grouper, as well as many different types of algae and other sea life.