Sinking the Spiegel Grove
The sinking of the USS Spiegel Grove off of Key Largo a few years ago was greatly anticipated by diving enthusiasts. This huge ship resting a hundred feet down was to be a major boon for the local dive industry, as well as an artificial reef fishing nursery. It seemed that everyone was excited about its value and registered very few negatives. That is until March of 2007 when three scuba divers, exploring this sunken hulk, perished within this submerged hull.
The day of the scuttling, we were all gathering, when the first mishap occurred. The Spiegel Grove began taking on water faster than anticipated, and the stern started to disappear below the waves. The Grove also began listing to starboard. There had been a rapid departure of the last of the scuttle crew and we all watched as this venerable old Navy ship sank into Davy Jones Locker, when the ships second misfortune occurred. The intent was to have the ship settle on the ocean’s bottom in an upright posture but when she reached the ocean floor, the Spiegel Grove was resting on her side. There she rested for many months until a fortuitous hurricane did what man could not do. The ocean’s motion generated by this passing hurricane righted the ship and the Spiegel Grove now rests upright, just as the scuttlers originally intended; with its bottom on the bottom.
The years have witnessed an explosion of sea life growth on this hulk.
Everywhere there are schools of small fish, and this has attracted the larger predators. It seems that almost every nook and cranny harbors a rich variety of growth and fish life. And while the clarity of these waters even at this depth is better than sixty feet, it is still disorienting when you enter the hull of this ship and lose sunlight, and even more so when you see schools of small fish swimming upside down as they follow the underside of the ship’s deck.
This latest tragedy of the three divers may never be fully understood, but it will add to the other mysteries that shroud this venerable old ship.