The U.S. Navy is set to begin scrapping the USS Bonhomme Richard in two months, but some Congress members ask for the ship to be sunk in the waters off Florida, where it could become an artificial reef.

On April 15, the navy will begin taking apart the amphibious assault ship, which had burned for four days at a base in San Diego last year, according to a navy message quoted by Navy Times.

Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar announced in a tweet on February 18 that she and other Congress members were asking the navy to change its plans and sink the ship in the waters off Florida where it could serve as an artificial reef.

'An environmental and economic benefit'

The tweet included a letter from 22 members of Congress to Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker. In the letter, which can also be viewed at the congresswoman's official web page, Congress members cited an estimate that dismantling the ship would cost $30 million. It would be less costly to sink the ship in the waters of Florida where the burnt-out ship "could become an environmental and economic benefit" to the public, the letter said.

The authors recalled that some discarded navy ships had already been sunk off the Florida coast. They mentioned the USS Spiegel, the USS Oriskany and the USS Mindanao. "These ships created an instant ecosystem for fish and wildlife," the letter said.

Artificial reef said to boost tourism

In their letter, Congress members said the Florida tourism industry would benefit from having artificial reefs.

They said throughout the year, Florida was a Travel destination for people who came to "fish and dive in our waters, eat at our restaurants, stay in our hotels and spend money at our small businesses." The artificial reefs created "brand new recreational fishing destinations for anglers," they added.

The four-day fire still under investigation

Navy Times quoted Rear Admiral Eric Ver Hage saying that repairing the USS Bonhomme Richard would have cost as much as $3.2 billion and would take between five and seven years.

According to Navy Times, he said converting the amphibious assault ship into a hospital ship would have cost more than $1 billion. The news organization noted that the fire's cause, which had destroyed 60 percent of the USS Bonhomme Richard, was still the subject of more than one investigation.

In her tweet, Congresswoman Salazar gave Congressman Darren Soto credit to lead the "bipartisan initiative" to have the ship sunk off the Florida coast.

The following members of Congress joined Salazar and Soto in signing the letter to the Acting Secretary of the Navy: Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Charlie Christ, Val Demings, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal P. Dunn, Scott Franklin, Matt Gaetz, Carlos A. Gimenez, Alcee L. Hastings, Al Lawson, Brian Mast, Stephanie Murphy, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, W.

Gregory Steube, Michael Waltz, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Daniel Webster.

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