The Spiegel Grove wreck is one of the most accessible and popular dives in Key Largo. It’s 510 feet long and lies in shallow enough water so that beginner divers can dive this wreck. The Bibb and Duane were scuttled in 1987, but they lie in deeper water. Local Key Largo dive charter businesses wanted an easier wreck so they could take their novice divers out to an exciting wreck. So, in 1994 they hatched a plan to sink one of the Navy mothball fleet in shallower water off Key Largo. The Spiegel Grove, nicknamed the Spiegel Beagle, had been decommissioned in 1989 after 33 years of service. With a beam of 84 feet and tonnage of 6,880 tons, she was gigantic and perfect for an artificial reef. She had been a Landing Ship Dock (LSD) so she was very broad. In fact, at the time of her sinking, she was the largest ship ever scuttled for an artificial reef.
It took almost a year to prepare the Spiegel Grove for sinking. The cost of the project went beyond $1 million, and she actually sank before workers were ready. Thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment was lost as she flipped over in the water, leaving her hull sticking out of the water. Professional divers were hired to turn her over and sink her properly, and finally in 2002 a new reef was formed off Key Largo. A few years later during the hurricane seasons of 2004-2005, she was rolled over a bit and the mooring buoys were pulled under during Hurricane Dennis. They’ve been since fixed, however. It’s now standing upright.
Spiegel Grove is very popular for diving but anglers love it as well. Fishing line is everywhere! It’s very close to the Gulf Stream, so it attracts large fish, plus things like manta rays and hammerhead sharks. On a clear day (meaning clear visibility in the water), you can see her from the surface. She’s only six miles from shore and almost every dive boat in town will take you there.