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Lars Hemel
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The USS Spiegel Grove is probably the largest artificial reef that has even been intentionally sunk for diving purposes.

Name Dive Site:USS Spiegel Grove
Depth: 59-127ft (18-39m)
Accessibility: Boat, Live-aboard
Inserted/Added by: lars, © Author: Lars Hemel

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The USS Spiegel Grove is a 510 foot long Navy Landing Ship which was sunk as an artificial reef on May 17, 2002, at only six miles of Key Largo near Dixie Shoals. She was meant to be an alternative dive site to lessen the pressure on the natural coral reefs. Almost all dive shops of Key Largo offer tours to this ship including equipment rentals, weights, tanks, beverages and even sun block. Diving here requires an advanced open water certification but there are possibilities to dive here as an open water diver as well. You will be limited then as dive shops will accompany you with a personal buddy and will require you to stay at shallower depths, seeing the wreck mostly from above. Its strong currents and surge can be a hazard as well so remember to connect cameras and other loose items otherwise they can easily be swept away and you will never be able to swim fast enough to catch them.

The Spiegel Grove is named after real estate in Ohio owned by United States president Rutherford B. Hayes. She came into service on November 10, 1955 and was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was commissioned in June 8, 1956 and served for many years throughout the Caribbean, Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. She had a vital role during operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf and was used for supporting manned space flights including the Apollo 14 moon mission. She went around Africa fully loaded with medicine, food and toys and helped many African nations. She has been used in many of the historical events during its thirty years of service. The Cold War, Panama, Guantanamo Bay, Lebanon and Grenada are just a few of them for which she received several awards and medals. When she was decommissioned in October 2, 1989 she was moved to the James River Fleet and stayed there for almost ten years. Plans to sink the ship as the largest underwater artificial reef ever scuttled for diving and fishing started in 1998 but took over four years because of issues about finance, natural environments and toxic reports. She sank six hours premature on May 17, 2002 stubbornly remaining on her starboard side despite many salvaging attempts. Three years later divers got lucky when the strong surge of hurricane Dennis moved the ship in an upright position.

There are many things to see. Visit the landing deck and remember that many ships and landing crafts have used this deck as their starting or ending point. The stern's highlights are a large crane and its huge loading areas where all the tanks and trucks were parked. Up front are several holes and swimthroughs. Visit the enormous propeller or the dozens of rooms and open spaces inside the wreck. Be careful when entering the wreck as more than five divers have died doing this being disoriented. Don't be stubborn and start exploring the wreck with your dive buddy unless you are properly trained. It is a dive site which requires several dives before you even understand the immensity of the underwater structure.

The size of this enormous ship is roughly the length of two football fields. She has created a reef of its own full of marine life and coral growth. This ship with its three mooring buoys is roughly sixty feet high which is excellent for training multi-level diving techniques. It is like doing a wall dive along a building the size of a city block! Algae, gorgonian, soft corals and sponges have begun to grow on its steel structure. Bar jacks, jewfish, large groupers and barracuda have started to hover around this ship. Smaller creatures such as fire worms, sea urchins, coral banded shrimps and arrow crabs are numerous inside the darker holes of the vessel. If you are in the keys you should definitely dive the USS Spiegel Crove as it is one of the world's best recreational dive sites, known all over the world! Enjoy diving the Keys.

Visit our partners! Or become one.


- BlueWater Divers of Key Largo, 99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo

BlueWater Divers of Key Largo

BlueWater Divers of Key Largo
(305) 453-9600
 99701 Overseas Highway
Key Largo

We specialize in taking Divers and Snorkelers to the incredible 3rd largest great barrier reef in the world. Let us show you the beauty of Key Largo thats just off the coast. Locations include sites to John Pennekemp State Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

BlueWater Diver is a U.S. Coast Guard inspected thirty foot custom dive vessel. She's fast, comfortable, and never crowded! While U.S. Coast Guard certified for 15 passengers, open seating is limited to ten divers per two location trip. Her flush deck, open transom, and sturdy boarding ladder were designed with diving in mind. We offer bottled water, fruit drinks, fresh fruit and a fresh water rinse shower on board for your convenience. We have a storage locker on site for you to stow your gear overnight and we will have all your gear set up for you upon your next dive trip. If you are tired of overcrowding, look no further and join us for a fabulous day on the water in the Florida Keys.
- Divers Den Miami, 12614 SW 88th Street, Miami

Divers Den Miami

Divers Den Maimi
 12614 SW 88th Street


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