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during the war. “She did a good job on the surface and will do a good job submerged,” said Nestingen, of Racine, Wis. “Of course, a lot of memories go down with her, such as storms and attacks.”
But from now on, the 16½-foot cannon at the ship's stern will be for divers to enjoy.
Retired naval architect Charles Petzold of Stuart, who designed the Rankin in 1944, said he had “mixed emotions” over the sinking.
“It's sad to see it come to end,” he said, “and then again, it's for a useful purpose.”
Most folks spending the sunny
Sunday out at sea were in a party frame of mind. Smiling boaters waved to each other, cheered as the explosion's smoke puffed above the Rankin, and snapped photographs.
And the Island Princess sounded its horn and released dozens of blue and white balloons into the sky after the blast.
“There's more people out here on boats than there were in Martin County in 1940,” said Chee Chee Gunsolus, a friend of the Evinrude family.
Once the explosives ripped through the Rankin, boats swarmed in for a close-up look from the one-mile radius enforced by the Coast Guard.
“I saw the ship go down and I couldn't believe how fast it went down — less than five minutes, incredible,” said Mark Perry, chairman of the Martin County Artificial Reef Committee.
Perry said some 150 people contributed more than $50,000 to the Rankin fund drive.
Bill Donaldson—the “admiral” of Martin County's underwater fleet— Perry commended “for getting the ball rolling” with the Rankin.
Donaldson dressed in a Rankin baseball cap and blue polo shirt inscribed with “#1 Reeftiree,” said he was satisfied “just with the thought of doing something for people.”