US Navy floating target

I am not really an environmentalist, but if this large target sinks, and if it is not biodegradable (I bet it is not), wouldn’t it be harmful to whatever lives under the waves? Do they salvage it or let it sink?

Vlad - I am not expert on these things, but I know that they have found in studying various forms of wreckage on the ocean floor that much of it is beneficial to aquatic life, as it forms an artificial reef of sorts, and the fish seem to thrive in the areas. That is, of course, barring releases of toxins in the area, like fuel leakage, toxic cargo contaminating an area, etc. The navy, I know, has purposefully sank some ships where there was a desparate wildlife need for such an artificial “home” for the fish, etc., rather than cut them up for scrap.

Vlad; That’s a neat pic, thanks. I was in the Navy for 24 years and never saw anything like that. I suspect the silver metal peaked corners on top are radar reflectors so the shooter can use its fire control radar. I have some very tough garbage bags that are biodegradable, so I think it’s at least possible.

John is right about sinking ships to create artificial reefs. I was a gunner during my P-3 squadron’s (VP-24) AGM-12B Bullpup missile qualification exercises, and the gunner ahead of me and I sank a surplus Navy WWII destroyer escort off the Virginia coast in 1970. The location was picked by some marine environmentalists, and the ship was very clean when towed out. My buddy in the plane ahead of me put a missile in the ship’s hull right below the bridge at the waterline, and I put my missile right behind his and blew the ship’s bottom out. We wanted it to sink bow down, stern up like in the movies, but it just settled slowly, perfectly level. Good memories.

One edit for typo.

My first ship in the Navy was a sea-going salvage tug, USS Brunswick, ATS 3. We had MONSTER winches aboard, and one of our duties was to tow gunnery practice targets for the destroyers and cruisers to shoot at. These consisted of a skid, (two pontoons floating in the water), with an A-frame above that looked like two large portions of cyclone fence, towed about 1000 yards astern. The target was radar reflective, and the big shells were supposed to land close but not hit the target. This is exactly what happened, except once. One day we were towing the target for USS Oklahoma City CG 5 and all went well for awhile, with BIG splashes and explosions all around the target from her 6 inch shells. All of a sudden, one splash and boom was much more spectacular than the previous ones and when the smoke cleared, no more target !! We returned to Pearl earlier than usual that day……………


Just corresponded with a recently retired (2013) USN Air Defense Officer

They loving call that traget a “killer tomato” (Google the nick-name)

They are radar reflective targets that can be embellished with strobes, infrared chem-lights, etc., as previously noted…for gunnery exercises from all platforms.

Even short and medium range missiles.

Not biodegradable, but usually recoverable with a small boat crew.

Pepper (never served…but am honored to know many who do/have and indebted to them for their service)