USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32)
Who you can see: Goliath Groupers, barracuda, Southern stingrays in the sand, moray eels, schooling gamefish, and angelfish.
Structure: 510′ long, 84′ wide
History: The Spiegel Grove was named after President Rutherford B. Hayes’s Ohio estate and was launched in 1955. She was later cleaned and sunk in 2002 in 130-feet of water near Dixie Shoals in Key Largo. Spiegel Grove was commissioned on June 8, 1956. A Thompson-class dock landing ship, the Grove spent the greater part of her active service participating in amphibious exercises along the eastern seaboard and the Caribbean. The Spiegel Grove was decommissioned in 1989, and sat in the “mothball fleet” in the James River, Newport News, VA, until 2002. Although the quest began in 1994 to use the Spiegel Grove as an artificial reef, years of red tape and fundraising delayed the sinking until 2002. For reasons unknown, potentially due to an interior bulkhead breaking, the Spiegel Grove prematurely started to sink, stern first, with air trapped in the bow still above water. The use of lift bags, and countless divers, and a demolition team allowed for the ship to rest on it’s starboard side in 130′. The Grove rested this way for 3 years, until July 2005, when Hurricane Dennis brought massive surge to upright the ship, as she is today.
Who you can see: Goliath Groupers, Nurse Sharks, barracuda, Southern stingrays in the sand, moray eels, schooling gamefish, cobia, and angelfish.
Structure: 327′ long, 41′ wide
History: USCGC Duane was launched on June 3, 1936 as a search and rescue and law enforcement vessel. As the cutters are named for former Secretaries of the Treasury Department, the cutter Duane was named for William John Duane, who served as the third Secretary of the Treasury to serve under President Andrew Jackson. Participating in WWII and Vietnam, Duane was decommissioned in 1985 as the oldest active military vessel. Duane rested in Boston until it was towed to Key Largo, along with its sister ship Bibb, and was sunk November 27, 1987. On May 16, 2002, the cutter Duane was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Who you can see: Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead seaturtles, moray eels, nurse sharks, flamingo tounges, southern stingrays, spiny lobster, and large schools of reef fish.
Structure: 285′ long, intact bow, scattered stern
History: Built in 1910, the Benwood was navigating through the waters of the Florida Keys in 1942 completely blacked out to avoid detection of German U-boats in the area. The Robert C. Tuttle, also blacked out, was traveling in the same area, bound for Texas. The two ships were on a collision course, and the bow of the Benwood collided with the port side of the Tuttle. The captain ran her in reverse onto nearby Dixie Shoal to salvage the ships cargo. Ruled as a hazard to navagation, her bow was destroyed and her hull was used for bombing practice. The remains of her bow now lie in 45 feet of water and provide a home to many fish.
City of Washington
Who you can see: Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead seaturtles, goliath grouper, moray eels, nurse sharks, reef sharks, flamingo tounges, southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays, spiny lobster, and large schools of reef fish.
Structure: 320′ long, 38′ beam
History: Built in 1877, the City of Washington has an interesting history. The City of Washington transported both passengers and freight between New York, Cuba, Panama and Mexico. In 1898, the City of Washington was anchored in Havana Harbor near the USS Maine when it was blown up. Washington’s crew jumped into action and rescued 90 crewmen. The dining salon became a makeshift hospital for the injured. The deckhouse and lifeboats of Washington were damaged by burning debris from the Maine.
With the Spanish-American War in full swing, the City of Washington became a transport for troops to Cuba. A much larger engine was added in 1898. After the war, the ship was converted to a coal barge in 1911. As she was being towed in 1917, the City of Washington struck Elbow Reef and sank within minutes.
Due to storm damage, the wreck is greatly deteriorated, although the hull and keel shapes are still visible. Debris spans an area 325 feet in length.