The Amesbury, locally known as Alexander’s Wreck, was built as a U.S. Naval destroyer escort in 1943 and was later converted to a high-speed transport vessel. While the vessel was being towed to deep water to be sunk as an artificial reef, it grounded and broke up in a storm before it could be refloated.
The Amesbury rests five miles west of Key West
The Amesbury was 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.
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 anti-aircraft 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.