Today’s post is from my husband, Hugh, from some recent dives he made on the USS Spiegel Grove. As way of explanation, my husband is a scuba instructor as his fun second career. The Saga of the Spiegel Grove is one of the chapters in my non-fiction book, Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artificial Reefs in the USA. This post is what we’ll call Part I.
Last week was my chance to spend lots of time on the Spiegel Grove. For those of you who are not familiar with the Spiegel, it is a 510-foot long Navy Landing Ship Dock that
was purposefully sunk off of Key Largo in 2002. It is one of the largest Artificial Reefs in the world and one of my favorite spots to dive. I’ve wanted to get out to it to shoot some video for a presentation that Charlie will be doing in October, so Saturday a week ago thanks to Dan and the whole crew at Horizon Divers I jumped in. Two great dives with
almost no current and the kind of visibility that gives a certain sense of mystery to a video.
For the first dive we were tied in to the helipad close to the stern (back end) of the ship. I dropped down to around 95 feet and swam along the port (left) edge of the well
deck. The well deck (think giant pickup truck bed) is where landing craft and hover craft could be brought into the Spiegel for repair or to be transported. I was accompanied by barracuda, angel fish, and file fish as I approached and entered the Shop area with its wood and metal working machines. After getting some good footage of these I dropped down through a hatch into the well deck and swam out and up to get shots around the rear of the superstructure. Slowly drifting past the enormous cranes I was able to get a really good feel for how big this ship is. After a slow assent up the mooring line with a couple of safety stops and a lazy surface interval its time to get back in.
For the second dive I wanted to get to the front of the ship. Captain Troy put us on the number 6 mooring which ties in to the superstructure at 67 feet. From here it was an easy swim forward and into one of the mess areas for more video. Back outside and up one level to the Executive Officers cabin, I got some shots of the conference table and then swam out and up to the Bridge area. Through the Bridge with a detour to the Radar/Sonar room and it’s already time to head back to the mooring and the dive boat. Time really does fly when you are having fun.
As we pulled up to the dock Ms. Joni from the office asked if I could work that afternoon guiding two divers back on the Grove. Throw me into that ”briar patch” please! One of the two guys was a new diver who had not yet gotten his Advanced Certification so I would be along to make sure that he and his buddy would have a safe and enjoyable time. I really enjoy introducing new divers to our deep wrecks, especially the Spiegel. We spent plenty of time planning our dives and discussing the ship. A good time was
had by all and I think both divers were glad that I led their dives.