The History of Diving Museum’s “Immerse Yourself” virtual presentation set for May 20 will feature Spiegel Grove.
Jim Wyatt served on the Spiegel Grove from 1984 through 1986 as the gunnery officer. With insight into what it was like to work and live aboard the Spiegel, Wyatt will share experiences swimming along the same passageways where she now rests. Wyatt has more than 45 years of experience as a SCUBA Instructor and 30 years experience as a cave instructor.
He can be found working at Rainbow Reef Dive Center, training and leading divers to explore the Spiegel Grove along with all the other wonderful dive sites of the Upper Keys.
Launched in November 1955, the Spiegel Grove was a Thomaston-class dock landing ship, used to transport Marines and Army soldiers. The Spiegel’s service included good-will missions along the African coast, and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. This included operations in support of Scott Carpenter’s manned space flight on the Mercy-Atlas 7, as well as other military exercises with joint forces. The Spiegel was decommissioned after 33 years and eventually was reincarnated as an artificial reef off Key Largo on May 17, 2002.
The Spiegel Grove is one of the most popular Upper Keys dive sites, with an interesting story from the sinking in 2002. The Spiegel prematurely took on water, causing her to turtle and end upside down with the bow sticking out of the water. A salvage crew successfully turned the ship on its side to complete the process of bringing it to the ocean floor. After three years of the Spiegel being nestled on its side, Hurricane Dennis skirted the Florida Keys, causing a surge that re-oriented the ship to the proper upright position.
The museum and Wyatt will be co-hosting the presentation through a private Zoom meeting. Those interested in joining the virtual presentation may email community outreach coordinator
Emily Kovacs at [email protected] or call the museum at 305-664-9737 to receive the Zoom meeting number and password. “Spaces” will be limited, so advance registration is required. Reservations will stop being taken at 6:45 pm. Following the presentation, the museum will post the recorded session at youtube.com/user/thedivingmuseum.
The lecture is sponsored by a Culture Builds Florida grant and by museum member Liz Bonness, who has several family members who served in the military, including one of her daughters.