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Dive Sites - Wrecks
 
 

WEST PALM BEACH SITES

 
MIZPAH CORRIDOR (85') - This is defiantly one of the best dives in Palm Beach County. The bulk of the corridor is composed of three wrecks (Mizpah, PC1170, and Amaryllis) that line up to form an amazing 1700 foot drift dive. The first wreck, the Mizpah, was sunk in 1968. She's a 185' Greek luxury liner, showcasing three distinct levels that Goliath grouper love to congregate in. Next in line is the PC1170, an old patrol craft measuring 160' in length. Also sunk in 1968, the PC1170 is split in two pieces under the bow of the Mizpah. Following a large rock pile, the Amaryllis is the third in line on this dive. Only the hull and bottom deck of this 450' ship remain as the other decks were removed to salvage the boat after it washed ashore during a hurricane. The China Barge is the fourth in line on this amazing site, although most divers don't reach it before needing to ascend.
 
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PRINCESS ANNE (100’) - Once used to shuttle people and automobiles across the Chesapeake Bay, this 350’ ferry was sunk in 1993. The vessel sits upright and an excellent multilevel dive profile was created when storms pushed the upper deck west, doubling the width of the site. Although it has only been in the water a short time, the wreck has already established itself as one of the best wreck dives in Florida.  Nestled near a beautiful reef system, those who are not trained in wreck diving have plenty to see outside of the ship. Schools of jacks, barracuda, and the occasional shark swim through the surrounding waters and corals cover the structure of the wreck. Divers can explore open rooms, some over 100' in length, intact staircases, and other parts of the ship. Divers often have a seat at the marine head for a photo or a rest break.
 
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SHARK CANYON (85’) - Home to resident Caribbean Reef and Nurse Sharks, it’s not uncommon to spot Bull Sharks, Hammerheads, and the occasional Lemon Shark.  This site used to be a shark feeding area, and although shark feeding was outlawed and the practice was discontinued, the sharks have made the canyon their permanent home.  It's definitely a great dive!  It is an inshore double ledge system with the deeper ledge at about 87’ and the top ledge rising to 65’ with a plateau between the m at 74’.  Schools of spadefish, jacks and many other colorful tropical fish cover the reef. Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill turtles, as well as the very rare Leatherback turtle have all been spotted here. There are Goliath Groupers, moray eels and stingrays just to name a few others.
 
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TOYBOX AND PLAYPEN (60') - This dive site begins as you drift onto a large barge sitting perpendicular to the current. Goliaths and the occasional bull shark frequent this wreck. Following the wreck is the Playpen, an artificial reef composed of concrete culverts and telephone poles. Divers always report schools of barracuda, colorful tropicals, and droves of spiny lobsters.
 

   MIAMI DIVE SITES

 
ALMIRANTE (135') - A 200' steel freighter sunk 1974 that was in immaculate condition with beautiful coral growth when Hurricane Andrew picked her up and dumped her upside down in 1992. Since then, sea life has re-inhabited this vessel making it a great site once again. There are many areas of twisted metal which are great for exploration. Red gorgonians, jewfish, and many other varieties of pelagic life call this ship home.
 
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ANDRO (100') – Sunk in 1985, she was a luxury yacht that was converted to a patrol boat for World War II and was used to chase submarines. After the war, she served as a freighter along the Atlantic coast and was eventually seized by Customs for transporting illegal drugs and was scuttled.  The ship settled upright in the sand and with a 38’ profile there is plenty to explore at a range of depths. The ship has twin propellers, two smokestacks and a large wheelhouse still intact. Hurricane Andrew broke the ship into three sections and exposed the engine block. This has actually made the wreck more varied and interesting to explore. This is a great wreck for underwater photographers.
 
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BISCAYNE (60’) – This wreck was a well-kept fisherman's secret until about 1980. This 120’ ship was often referred to as the "Banana Freighter" because it was used to transport bananas between the Caribbean Islands and from Central America. It was later confiscated for financial reasons and bought by fisherman who wanted to sink it for themselves at a depth of 250’. When it was being towed to the “secret” spot, strong winds blew the vessel and landed it in only 55’ where it currently lies.  Because of this shallow sinking, this site became a great location for divers. Penetration can be done in the cargo hold where bait fish often reside. The picturesque colors and variety of sea life make this a great site for photography. The stern and starboard sections of the wreck have collapsed. However, the decades of growth leave this site fully inhabited with sea life and a great dive.
 
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BLUE FIRE (135’) - This 175’ passenger freight was sunk in 1983 and is filled with sea life. She was seized during the Cuban exodus by the Coast Guard. Today, she is home to many larger fish such as jacks, snapper, cobia, barracuda, and Jewfish. Divers should be warned that currents can be strong at this location. The vessel sits upright and penetration on this wreck is possible. If underwater photography is your goal, this is a dive that should not be missed.
 
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CASCADES (80’) - The Cascades is a series of deep reefs that start near the Orion and end over a mile away to the North. This is an awesome drift dive when the current is favorable.
 
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DEEP FREEZE (135') - now one of Miami's most popular advanced dive sites was a 210' freighter sunk in October 1976. She had a 33.5' beam and displaced 1,138 gross tons of water. Her top deck can be reached at 110'. She was sunk in the artificial reef site known as Pflueger, located north of Government Cut and south of Haulover Islet. Fairly strong currents are the norm here. She is a popular spot for local fisherman and spear fisherman. Due to the monofilament lines on this wreck and the heavy buildup of silt, the Deep Freeze is only recommended for advanced divers. Be sure to bring a knife for the monofilament. The wreck offers excellent penetration for the experienced wreck diver. Hurricane Andrew separated a 35' section of the stern from the hull in 1992, but otherwise caused little damage.
 
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DEMA TRADER (70') - Formerly known as the GGD Trader, this 165' freighter was seized by U.S. Customs for carrying drugs, and was renamed DEMA Trader after the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association annual convention held in 2003. She was sunk October 2003. The ship is keel down in the sand. Large openings were cut in the sides of the superstructure to allow safe penetration dives into the former galley and cabin areas. Tons of concrete culvert pipes and junction boxes were loaded into the ship's cargo hold, creating ballast in case of storms, and providing more habitat than just an open cargo hold.
 
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DOC DE MILLY (150') - This 287' steel freighter was built in 1949 and renamed for a local veterinarian and pioneer before it was sunk in 1986. The interesting thing about this sinking is that it was done by the Air Force. They staged an attack on this ship to simulate what may have occurred in war, dropping concrete bombs with remote-controlled charges. The ship remains intact and managed to avoid damage in 1992 during Hurricane Andrew. Jewfish are a common sight here and share the area with a variety of sea life.
 
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ETOILE DE MER (130') – The “Star of the Sea” is an 80’ steel hulled fishing vessel converted to carry dry cargo. In January 2001 she was seized after Customs Inspectors found 186 pounds of cocaine, worth $ 1.5 million wholesale. The cocaine was discovered on the main deck of the ship in two duffel bags and hidden in a false wall between the cargo hold and the engine room.  The United States Customs Service sunk three cargo ships previously used to smuggle drugs into South Florida via the Miami River (M/V Brandywine, M/V Miguana and the M/V Etoile de Mer) to create the "U.S. Customs Reef”, a living monument to honor those who protect America's boarders and coastlines -- past, present and future.
 
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FISH HOLE (45') – This is a natural recess in the sea bed that is frequented by many species of fish, including hogfish, grouper, snapper, angel fish, and parrot fish.  This site is also home to nurse sharks, lobsters and various species of eels. This is a great dive!
 
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MIGUANA (140') - The M/V Miguana is a 101’ former garbage scow converted to carry dry cargo.  She was seized as part of OPERATION RIVERWALK after Customs Inspectors and the Florida Highway Patrol officers found 125 pounds of cocaine, worth $ 1.1 million wholesale. The cocaine was initially discovered when "Bandit," a U.S. Customs drug detection dog, and "SPEC," a Florida Highway Patrol drug detection dog, alerted to the presence of cocaine near two propane tanks at the stern of the ship. While examining the tanks Inspectors discovered they were not properly connected to the galley stove, contained no propane gas, and were unusually heavy. An examination of the bottom of those tanks revealed that the bottoms had been cut and patched with a Bondo type material in an apparent effort to hide the illegal cargo.  The United States Customs Service sunk three cargo ships previously used to smuggle drugs into South Florida via the Miami River (M/V Brandywine, M/V Miguana and the M/V Etoile de Mer) to create the "U.S. Customs Reef”, a living monument to honor those who protect America's boarders and coastlines -- past, present and future.
 
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NEPTUNE MEMORIAL GRAVEYARD (40') - The Atlantis Reef Project is a man-made reef in the image of The Lost City of Atlantis. Atlantis will be the largest man-made reef ever built, covering more than 600,000 square feet of ocean floor and using 10,000 cubic yards of cement. The completed site will have a diameter of over 900 feet, making this a multi-tank dive!   Billed as the first underwater theme park in the world, Atlantis also has a memorial for the dearly departed. Cremated remains will be deployed in most of the columns, domes, and other structures.  If you’ve ever dared to visit a graveyard on a dark night dive, this is the dive for you!  While ghostly visions have been reported from time to time on this site, there is almost a guaranteed chance to get a glimpse of a spirit from the past on this night dive.
 
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ORION (95') - Scuttled in 1981 in 95' of water.  A 118' Navy Tug Orion was used during the widening of the Panama Canal in Central America. Eventually the boat went unused for 5 years until the State of Florida seized it and absorbed this ship into the artificial reef program. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew brought destruction to this vessel, tearing off the pilot house which landed in the sand next to the ship still intact. The pilot house often contains schools of bait fish. Grouper are also a common sight at this location.
 
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PATRICIA (55') – This steel tug was sunk in 1990 and is mostly intact. This wreck is only 100’ from the Karline. Also close by are the Radio Tower Pyramids and Army Tanks. The once sandy area now has a great deal of coral and marine life. This is an excellent site for photography.
 
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PIPES (45') - This is actually a "secret spot."  These left over sewer pipes were disposed of just offshore south of Government Cut where they have sort of "stacked up" on top of each other in about 55 feet of water. The growth on the structures is incredible as the open pipes allow uninhibited flow of water and thus nutrients. Oysters, clams, sponges and the associated invertebrates are abundant and growing not only on the outside, but all along the inside of the pipes. Fish congregate on the adjacent reef and moray eels and lobster are a common occurrence here. The inside of the pipes are literally full of gorgonians attached to the sides, making it difficult, but not impossible to swim through. Yes, the pipes are large enough for a diver to comfortably navigate. It is truly amazing how these discarded sewer pipes have turned into a base for prolific life. These all-concrete pipes not only attract varied and numerous marine-life to the area, but if placed closer to shore would also prevent the erosion of the sand beach.
 
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PRINCESS BRITTANY (85') – This 165’ freighter was seized by Customs and Border Protection and sunk in 2003. She was seized in 2002 during Operation River Walk when more than 70 kilograms of cocaine were found hidden inside. The expected value of these drugs was $1.3 million. Sea life immediately found this wreck and made it their new home. Barracudas in large numbers and giant basket stars are a couple of the organisms that are often seen by divers who explore this site.
 
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PROTEUS (75’) –Sunk in 1985, this 220' freighter makes an excellent opportunity for the novice wreck diver.  She was once a ferry boat on the Great Lakes before carrying freight and supplies between the Caribbean islands. Most of her superstructure was removed to allow maximum cargo space, but the ship failed to make a profit resulting in bankruptcy in 1980. The freighter sat on the Miami River for 5 years as a derelict vessel when NAUI expressed their interest in helping to obtain and sink a ship in late 1984.  Volunteers cleaned and prepared the ship to make it environmentally safe before sinking.  Resting on a sandy bottom, the Proteus was broken into several large pieces by the forces of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Since the structure spread out over a wider area, more marine life seems to have taken up residence in the various twisted metal remains of the wreck. Moray eels, schooling grunts, barracudas, angelfish and the occasional groups can be found within the wreck and around debris field.
 
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SHERI LYN (110') – She is a 235’ freighter that took 400 pounds of high-explosives to bring down. Dutch-built, she carried a small crew as she was launched in 1952 and used for shipping. When she had been docked for several years without use, it was assumed that this ship was abandoned and ownership was gained by the Department of Environmental Resource Management.  The vessel took a hard hit from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and was spread across a wide area. Her bow lies 60 feet away from the rest of the wreck. This allowed for increased marine life to inhabit the remains. Although prior to this she was intact and upright, she now has a larger variety of sea life. She has many foot holes cut through bulkheads that allow for exploration. South of the bow lies 50 Chevron tanks, each 30 feet long and 8 feet in diameter with the ends cut off. Twenty cement-mixer tanks also lie nearby. The variety of wreckage provides home to large amounts of pelagic life.
 
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STEANE D'AURAY (70') - Often referred to as the "St. Anne"; she is a 110' North Atlantic trawler. Some of the wreck has been torn apart and scattered across the bottom in the sand after Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992. Sunk in 1986, she has a tremendous amount of growth. The rich nutrients of the Gulfstream have brought an abundance of life to her structure. Brilliant soft corals undulate in the current while the dark passageways beckon you to investigate her inner structure.
 
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STARFISH REEF (35') - Considered to be, by far, the most beautiful shallow reef group in Miami.  The colors in clear water are breathtaking. Sponges of every color are complimented by patches of living coral, where every coral and sponge teems with juvenile tropical fish in the spring and summer. There are many larger fish, including parrotfish, angelfish, grouper, barracuda, puffer fish, lizard fish and hogfish.
 
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TACOMA (135') - The Tacoma is a 165' steel freighter that was sunk in 2002. This wreck remains in good condition and intact. Big game fish are often found on this dive because it is rarely visited. The Tacoma was seized as part of the Operation River Walk, a drug confiscation mission. This dive is fairly deep and great for seeing pelagic life and the beauty that lies underwater.
 
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TANKS (45’) – In 1994 the Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) placed two M60 Army Tanks and 1060 tons of limerock boulders. The result is an area prolific with life. Lobsters are abundant both on the tanks and within the boulders where they are able to easily hide from their predators.   Although the tanks have only been underwater for a short period of time, they look as if they have been here since the last World War. They have an incredible amount of growth, including spiny oysters, sponges and both a variety of hard and soft corals.
 
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TENNECO TOWERS (110') – This is the largest artificial reef in SE Florida and was created in 1985 when the Tenneco Oil Company sank five large sections of oil production platforms. The decommissioned oil platforms were transported by barge and sunk in a straight east-west line, each a little deeper than the next. Three of the platforms are within recreational diving limits. The smallest of the three platforms rests at 97’ feet of water and rises to 65’. The two larger platforms are in 110’ and top out at 60’. The second platform lies about 100 yards from the first, and the third is about another 85 yards away. The two deep water sections lie in 190’ and rise to 80’. When Hurricane Andrew stuck in August, 1992, it caused the two deep towers to list at close to a 45-degree angle.  The flow of tides and currents that move freely through the site gave almost instant growth to a jungle of soft coral that has since covered the entire wreck. Many large pelagic fish can be found at the wreck along with queen angels, Spanish hogfish, and the occasional turtle.
 
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TORTUGA (110') - Sometimes called the Fair Game ship because its explosion and sinking in 1995 was used as the final scene in the movie Fair Game, starring Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin. The 165’ steel ship sits upright and has large openings that make this wreck fairly easy for the trained wreck diver to penetrate. The wheelhouse can be explored and the twin propellers are intact. There is a good amount of growth and abundant marine life. Divers report spotting Boxfish, Snapper, and Barracuda.
 
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ULTRA FREZE (135’) – This 207’ ship was built in 1959 and was owned by Trans Caribbean Lines and managed by Trans Caribbean Agencies Inc. of Miami.  While on the Miami River she was abandoned, vandalized and slowly stripped until she was worthless. She was scuttled in 1984. The steel hulled Ultra Freeze now rests in within 70’ feet of the surface. The wreck sits on a slope with her stern facing west. She sits intact and upright and her stern has an amazing amount of marine growth. The wreck's propeller is always a good photo background.
 
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WRECK TREK (75') - Belcher Barge is a 195’ steel barge was sunk in 1985 by four explosions at each corner and the barge turned over on its way to the bottom. Experienced divers can swim inside the entire length, passing through the holes that were cut in the bulkheads.  This wreck is part of a popular Wreck Trek that includes the Belzona One; an 85’ tug boat sitting upright in 70’ of water.  She was used throughout the Bahamas before she was harmed by a fire and intentionally sunk in 1990.  Located 75’ due west of Belzona One lies Belzona Two. This second vessel in a 90’ tug was built in the early 1900s and carried refugees during the Cuba Boat lift. She was also intentionally sunk in 1991 and lies in 60’ of water. During Hurricane Andrew, she was shaken about and lost her roof.   75’ west of the second tug lays Belzona Three. This 100’ tug lies in 85’ of water and was sunk in 1991 to complete the Belzona Triangle. She was built in 1953 and used for towing. In 1989, engine failure lead to her demise. The Belzona Triangle offers a view of three different tugs and a variety of sea life. It is easy to navigate between tugs and enjoy many aspects of the area.  This is a great dive for those looking to explore several wrecks in a single dive. 
 
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BENWOOD (55') - She is a 285’ ship built in 1910 and sailed with a crew of 38 with 12 rifles and one four-inch gun.  The actual sinking of the Benwood, which occurred in 1942, has been a subject of much controversy. One account goes as follows... the freighter was torpedoed during World War II by a German submarine off the Florida Keys. As she sailed in search of shallower waters, she was again hit, this time by a passing ship, the Robert C. Tuttle.  Five shells on board exploded ending this ship's possibility for being salvaged.  A second more likely account claims the two ships, the Benwood and the Tuttle, collided. Rumors of German U-boats in the area required her to travel completely blacked out. 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.  After she sank, her bow was destroyed to avoid navigation hazards and her hull was used for bombing practice.   Goatfish, grunts, moray eels, glassy sweepers, snapper, lobster, grouper and hogfish frequent this wreck. The site is home to a healthy collection of sea fans, sea whips, brain coral, sponges and fire coral.
 

KEY LARGO SITES

 
EAGLE (110’) 
 
Depth Range: 75-120 feet
Experience Level: Advanced
Location: 24º54.18 80º34.20
 
This freighter that was obtained by the Eagle Tire Company after a fire rendered it no longer useful for cargo transport. Islamorada dive shops and tourism interests worked together to have the Eagle become an artificial reef and popular dive spot off Lower Matecumbe Key. The ship was cleaned and holes blasted in the sides before it was sunk in 1985. The ship settled in 110’ of water on her starboard side. A hurricane in 1998 broke the ship in half. Mooring buoys are located at its bow and stern. Divers should descend on the mooring lines as the current can be quite strong. A smokestack, crow's nest and mast are all intact. Because its profile reaches 40’ and there is great visibility, divers will need to descend only 65’ to reach the ship. There are several places where advanced wreck divers can penetrate the ship. It is generally well-lit, and divers report seeing amberjacks, grunts, silversides, cobia, jewfish, and nurse sharks. The masses of coral that have grown on the ship are well-developed. Spiny oysters and sponges abound. A 287' freighter, sunk in 1985 as part of the Florida Keys Artificial Reef Association program, forms an artificial reef which has brought enjoyment to thousands of divers. She has remained generally intact, apart from eight gaping holes in her side and although the wreck rests at a depth of 110 ft, you will begin to encounter her superstructure at 75 ft. Because of the Eagle's comparatively remote location beyond the protective confines of the reef, the state of the current will be a vitally important factor in determining your dive plan here.
 
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MOLASSAS REEF (30’) - This is the most visited dive site in the United States. It is home to massive brain coral, star coral, and other large barrier corals. Caves and ledges provide homes for lobsters, crabs, moray eels, parrot fish, angelfish, filefish, turtles, rays, and nurse sharks.  Local legend suggests that Molasses is named for a barge that grounded here many years ago carrying a cargo of molasses barrels, but much of the strewn wreckage is probably from a wooden hulled Austrian ship named Slobodna, run aground here in 1887.
 
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USGC BIBB (130') - This wreck is a former Coast Guard ship built in 1937. The Bibb served in patrols and as a convoy escort during World War II. She took part in the invasion of Okinawa and was in service in Vietnam. The 327-foot vessel had a beam of 41 feet and drew 13 feet of water. The ship is in pristine condition. In 1987, the Bibb and another cutter, the Duane, were stripped and prepared for sinking. The doors above the main deck were removed, but the hull was sealed. The Bibb rests on her starboard side, and the port railing can be reached at 95 feet. Penetration is not recommended as there are many possible entanglements and obstructions, and often extremely strong currents. The Bibb is close enough to the Gulfstream to have incredible visibility and some very large marine life. Sharks and Goliath Grouper are routinely spotted here, as are hordes of smaller fishes and barracudas. For the advanced wreck diver, the Bibb is a dive not to be missed!
 
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USCG DUANE (120') - She is a 329-foot cutter that was decommissioned on August 1st, 1985, as the oldest active U.S. military vessel. The ship was intentionally sunk on November 27, 1987, to create an artificial reef. This ship was sunk deep down to ensure that it would not conflict with navigation in the area. The Duane lies outside of the reef line and can have a ripping current. Because of its deep depth and strong currents this is a dive for advanced SCUBA divers with wreck-diving experience. Many consider the Duane to be the perfect wreck dive. Before sinking, the ship's hatches were opened and the holds pumped full of water to sink the ship. The Duane sits upright on the sandy bottom at 120 feet offering nearly 70 feet of relief. On clear days the outline of the hull can be seen from far above. The crow's nest and mast become visible just 50-60 feet below the surface. Many decks and rooms were intentionally left open to allow divers room to explore the interior of the cutter. Bring a dive light if you plan to penetrate the interior. The hull structure is completely intact with the original rudders, screws, railings, ladders and ports. This wreck is even more impressive because the waters are so clear that visibility is often 100 feet. It is closer to the Gulfstream than most wrecks and reefs and some very large fish such as barracuda, amberjack, and cobia are often spotted swimming around the wreck.
 
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USS SPIEGEL GROVE (130’) - In 2002, the USS Spiegel Grove was the largest vessel ever intentionally sunk.  She is a 510’ landing ship dock. To give a better visual understanding of the immensity of this ship, she is roughly equivalent in length to two football fields.   Named after President Rutherford B. Hayes's Ohio estate, she was launched in 1955. The sinking of the Spiegel Grove is an extraordinary tale. Her sinking was scheduled for Friday, May 17, 2002 at approximately 2:00pm. However, she had a mind of her own and prematurely began to sink, rolled over, and remained upside down for several days with her bow protruding from the water. A salvage team managed to fully sink the vessel three weeks later, but she came to rest on her starboard side rather than keel-up as hoped. Later efforts to right the ship failed despite the best efforts of all involved, including two very determined tugs. Then three years later, much to the surprise of the entire diving community, Hurricane Dennis righted the 510’ ship with seas over 20’ and a driving current. She know rests keel-up, fully dignified and ready for new adventures! The Spiegel Grove is the backbone of the artificial reef system that has formed in this area. Algae, sponges and coral mingle with 130 species of fish to create enormous biodiversity in this region. Divers may see Goliath Grouper, barracuda, large jacks, and a large colony of gobies. Mooring buoys allow divers an easy tie-in and a steady hold. The lines are attached to the ship and allow divers to travel down them until they reach the hull. This is a very popular site. Divers will need multiple dives to become oriented and it may take countless dives for one to be able to experience all that this massive vessel has to offer. This is a great dive for using multi-level diving techniques and offers an incredible opportunity for exploration and excitement. This is a dive not to be missed. The reef formation that has arisen is impressive and has fostered growth of much pelagic life.
 

   MARATHON KEY SITES

 
SOMBRERO REEF (30’) - Prior to the Civil War, the 142’ Sombrero Key Lighthouse was constructed 8 miles offshore. The innovative screw-pile lighthouse is still fully functional and in service. Sombrero Reef is one of the largest and surely the most magnificent coral reefs in the Middle Keys, home to some of the best spur and groove reef formations in all the Keys. The amount of coral is breath-taking. As soon as you descend, gorgonians, brain, finger and lettuce corals can be seen. Schools of colorful tropicals, southern stingrays and nurse sharks make their home on this reef. The reef is a Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) and strictly regulated.
 
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THUNDERBOLT (115’) - Originally named the USS Randolph; she was built for the US Army as a cable laying boat. She later served FP&L as a research ship to attract and study lightning, hence her name Thunderbolt. This 188’ military ship was sunk “by divers for divers” in 1986 and sits perfectly upright.  Her superstructure is now coated with colorful sponge, coral, and hydroid, providing refuge and sustenance to large angelfish, jack s, and a variety of deep-water pelagic creatures. With huge twin propellers, divers can descend into the engine compartment beneath large arches in the main deck. Her bow is dominated by a huge horizontal cable reel.
 

KEY WEST SITES

 
USS GENERAL HOYT S VANDENBERG (145’) – She is a 522’ retired Air Force missile-tracking ship intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef off Key West in May 2009.  The bottom of the ship's hull rests on sand in depths that average 145’  but the ship is so massive that the superstructure begins about 45 feet below the surface.  Last used by the U.S. Air Force to track missiles and spacecraft became the world's second-largest intentionally sunk artificial reef.  Preparation for sinking had taken months of inspections and cleanup to remove contaminants. Workers hauled off more than a million feet of wire, 1,500 vent gaskets, dozens of watertight steel doors, 81 bags of asbestos, 193 tons of potentially cancer-causing substances, 46 tons of garbage that could come loose and float to the surface, 300 pounds of materials containing mercury and 185 55-gallon drums of paint chips.  The cleanup was performed at two Norfolk, Va., shipyards before the boat made the 1,100-mile voyage, arriving in Key West on April 22. Permitting was required from 18 local, state and federal agencies.  The Vandenberg began as the Gen. Harry Taylor and was later commissioned by the Army as a transport vessel, ferrying troops and supplies from San Francisco to island bases in the western Pacific Ocean in 1944.  In 1945, it carried troops home from Europe near the end of World War II. It was later used by the Navy as a transport ship, and was transferred to the Air Force in 1961, when it was renamed the Vandenberg.  For about 20 more years, the ship served as a missile tracker throughout the height of the Cold War and was retired in 1983. The world’s largest intentionally sunk artificial reef is the 888’ USS Oriskany, sunk in 2006 off the coast of Pensacola Beach in the Florida Panhandle.  The sinking of the 522’ USS Vandenberg moves the 510’ Spiegel Grove off Key Largo to third on this impressive list.
 
 

 
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