Spiegel Grove

June 2002

I had the opportunity to dive the Spiegel Grove 5 times during the week of June 25th - 30th with the Dual Porpoise charter boat. I had a blast and can highly recommend Capt. Steve Schalk and his lovely wife Gabriele Hempel for running a highly professional and enjoyable operation.

The Spiegel Grove was a Navy ship that (if I'm not mistaken) was a transport ship for amphibious landing craft and other military vehicles. She was/is some 500 ft long. After something like 8 years of planning, she was sunk off Key Largo as an artificial reef this year. In mid-May, as the Spiegel Grove was being flooded prior to sinking,  the stern sank prematurely and the ship turned turtle. She was left upside down in 130 ft of water with the bow protruding above the surface.

After a marathon effort, in early June they managed to roll the ship over on it's starboard side and sink her to the bottom. Purely by coincidence I arrived to dive on the first full day that the wreck was opened to recreational diving. So these pictures show the Spiegel Grove after she was underwater a little more than a month.

These pages are photographs with comments from my dives on the Spiegel Grove. They are not in strictly chronological order.

There were five mooring permanent mooring lines on the SG when I was there. Since Florida divers had been waiting for 8 years or so to dive this wreck, it was a very popular destination the week I was there.

So here I am, a cold water, low vis, NJ wreck diver in sunny Florida (actually we had a lot of thunderstorms and clouds the week I was there). Capt Steve zooms us out to the dive site and hooks into one of the mooring lines. The seas for the most part were a little rough, but not too bad. For the first dive, Gabrielle served as divemaster for the 3 divers (it's nice diving off of a small boat).

I jump into the balmy 80 deg. water, swim over to the mooring line and we all descend. The hull of the SG is at around 50' and it gleams white as we descend.



This picture wasn't taken on my first dive, but it captures the feeling of descending onto the wreck. I was struck by the incredible blueness of the water (at least compared to the dark green soup of NJ). The resident, almost tame barracuda shown here, wasn't there on my first dive, but seemed to be a permanent fixture on most of my dives. This was my first sighting of a barracuda and I was thrilled. I must have taken several dozen pictures of him. I soon discovered that Florida divers have a pretty ho-hum attitude about barracuda, but for me seeing this guy up close, protruding teeth and all, was really exciting.


Because the ship sunk on it's starboard side, most of the interesting features are off on the side and range in depth from around 50 feet near the hull to 130 feet on the sand.

It could get very disorienting at times. At first I wanted to rotate this picture 90 degrees to make it look right, but then realized the fish really were swimming downward.



Here Gabriele (left) and 14 year-old Nick are floating off the to side of the ship. This was Nick's third or fourth open water dive and he was having a blast.


Here Nick (rear) and his father, Curtis, are cruising along the hull on our way back to the mooring line.


Some pretty yellow fish finding a home on the month old wreck.

Some structures along the deck. I have no idea what they are. The pictures really don't convey the size of this wreck. Everything is big and diving on it makes you feel very puny.

More Pictures from the Spiegel Grove

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Copyright 2002 Carl Muhlhausen