Spiegel Grove is a local favorite among divers and crew alike! She is 510 ft long (the size of two football fields!) and is the largest vessel ever intentionally sunk.

Spiegel Grove History

Spiegel Grove was decommissioned 2 October 1989 and her name struck from the Navy list on 13 December 1989. The vessel was transferred to the United States Maritime Administration in the James River “mothball” fleet.

In 1998 the title passed to Florida with the plan of sinking the hull to make an artificial reef off Key Largo. To achieve this, the EPA had to increase the acceptable amount of PCB (a toxic chemical substance) remaining in future wrecks from 2 ppm to 50 ppm. On 13 June 2001, the Spiegel Grove was transferred to the State of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission so that the ship could be sunk.

The total preparation and reefing cost was $1 million. The ship sank prematurely on 17 May 2002 and during the planned sinking, volunteer work crews dropped her 12-ton anchors and flooded her ballast tanks with water. But the ex-Spiegel Grove settled too soon and suddenly rolled to her starboard side. She sank several hours ahead of schedule, ending up upside-down on the sea bottom and leaving her bow protruding slightly out of the ocean. But in July 2005, Hurricane Dennis shifted the former USS Spiegel Grove onto her keel, right-side-up! Now a common dive for Advanced Open Water students doing their deep or wreck dive, Spiegel Grove is an exciting dive to explore.

Dive Spiegel Grove

You can explore the majority of the ship, depending upon certification level. Advanced wreck/cave divers and technical divers can explore deep into the bowels of the ship, while Advanced Open Water divers can explore the outside structure and certain swimthroughs. The wreck currently resides in 135 ft of water, so it certainly takes a bit of planning on how you want to explore! You can tie off to a variety of mooring balls ranging from 65′ to 105′ deep to allow you to plan your dive accordingly. It does take countless dives to be able to investigate a large portion of the ship, so a double-dip is always fun! But prepare for current. This dive is notorious for having a strong current–not being far from the Gulf Stream–so ensure you are prepared. All divers are recommended to have a guide or extended experience in strong current and wrecks.

Having become a well-established artificial reef means the Spiegel has lots of life! When you dive Spiegel Grove keep your eyes out for large goliath grouper, monstrous barracuda, and the tropical fish you’re already used to.


Spiegel grove
Spiegel Grove in her glory days


Spiegel Grove Diving and History