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USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32)

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USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32)

To my shipmates that I served with from 6/80-8/83: I am thankful that I had the opportunity to have steamed with you and my congratulations on a job well done! It was truly a pleasure to serve with some of the United States Navy's best....
the crew of the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32)
- Kevin Flatley OS2/USN -

Before we begin, I'd like to mention that any sailor that put to sea aboard the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) is hereby invited to 'help me out' when it comes to our ships' history. By this, I mean that I ask you folks to e-mail me anything that might be helpful in either correcting any mistakes I've made, or if you wish, add any colorful insights that you may have! I will probably either add any factual text to the appropriate location in the following data, or perhaps create a new "tidbits" type of page as a link off of this page. I thank all of you for your help, as I want this page to be the definitive USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) information page. All comments are welcome as to content, good or bad...Thanks!

Supplemental information
(For any missing years; courtesy of our shipmates - please help me 'fill in the blanks'!)

LSD 32 Cruise History

The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) is named after the home and estate in Fremont, OH, of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States. (LSD-32; dp. 6,880; L. 510'; Dr. 19'; S. 21k; Cpl. 756; A. 123'; Cl. Thomaston)....

Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) was laid down on 7 September 1954 by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, MS.; launched on 10 November 1955; sponsored by Mrs. Webb C. Hayes; and commissioned on 8 June 1956, Capt. Saverio S. Fillipone in command.

Spiegel Grove headed for Hampton Roads and arrived at Norfolk, VA on 7 July. She headed for the Guantanamo Bay area for her shakedown cruise on 26 July and returned on 15 September. The ship was in the yards during October; and in November, she participated in amphibious exercises off Onslow Beach, NC.

On 9 January 1957, Spiegel Grove, with other ships of Transport Amphibious Squadron (TransPhibRon) 4, sailed from Morehead City, NC, with elements of the 6th Marines embarked, for a tour with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. She returned to Norfolk on 3 June and operated along the east coast for the remainder of the year. In November, she transported 364 Army troops to Labrador. In January 1958, the LSD was deployed with her squadron to the 6th Fleet on an extended tour which did not end until; 6 October. On the 22nd, the Spiegel Grove was assigned to PhibRon 10, the new Fast Squadron. The years 1959 and 1960 saw the LSD participating in numerous operations along the east coast and in the Caribbean.

Spiegel Grove stood out of Norfolk in April 1961 with Task Force (TF) 88 for "Solant Amity II", a good-will tour to the African coast. The force carried tons of medical supplies, food and disaster supplies, toys, books and seed. During the 4 month cruise, the ships visited Gambia, Durban, the Malagasy Republic, the Seychelles Islands, Zanzibar, Kenya, the Union of South Africa, Togo and Gabon before returning to the United States on 8 September. She then entered Horne Brothers Shipyard, Newport News, VA, for an overhaul that was not completed until early January 1962.

Spiegel Grove conducted refresher training and then spent March and April in amphibious exercises in the Caribbean. In May, she took part in operations supporting Malcolm Scott Carpenter's manned space flight. In July and August she returned to the Caribbean for "Phibulex 2-62". On 1 December 1962, a tender availability period was begun to prepare the ship for "Solant Amity IV". The LSD loaded supplies during January 1963, and sailed, on 15 February, for her second good-will tour which lasted until late May. The ship steamed over 21,000 miles and visited 9 countries before returning home. Spiegel Grove next deployed to the Caribbean from July to September with PhibRon 8.

Along with the USS Austin (LPD 4) & other warships, Spiegel Grove took part in special amphibious exercises before beginning another deployment to the Caribbean on 18 May. During the four-month cruise, she was involved in Operation Exotic Dancer II, held off Puerto Rico and visits included San Juan and Roosevelt Roads, La Guaira, Venezuela; Colón, Panama; Guantanamo Bay; Bridgetown, Barbados; and St. Thomas. This deployment ended on 10 September.

The landing ship has spent the greater part of her active service participating in amphibious exercises along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean. Spiegel Grove was deployed to the 6th Fleet from January to June 1964; 3 November 1966 to 11 May 1967; and from 17 April to 9 October 1971. She participated in Operation "Steel Pike I" off Spain in October 1964 and made a Midshipman cruise to England and Denmark in 1970.

1975: C.O. Cdr. John Avila, Jr. The Spiegel Grove became a member of ComPhibRon 8, 2nd Fleet. January and February were devoted to general upkeep. On 6 March, the ship was U/W to the Caribbean with Marines from Morehead City, NC. The Spiegel Grove participated in various operations, including Latredex 2-75, with the British Navy; Escort Tiger, Agate Punch, and Rum Punch with the British and Dutch navies.

The Spiegel Grove returned to Little Creek in late April and was U/W again to participate in exercises "Solid Shield '75".

The LSD's next assignment was to serve as Commander Amphibious Task Force for a reserve amphibious landing exercise in June. July was spent preparing for the ship's second Caribbean cruise of the year. On 5 August, the Caribbean Amphibious Ready Group 2-75 was terminated and Spiegel Grove became a member of the Atlantic Ready Group (LARG 2-75) under ComPhibRon 4.

On 6 August, the LSD deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and finally to Vieques, Puerto Rico where she conducted numerous training exercises. The ship returned to Little Creek on 29 August.

September saw the ship participating in a PhibRefTra. October and November were spent in port preparing for an upcoming Mediterranean deployment scheduled for January 1976.

The Spiegel Grove served as flagship for ComPhibRon 8 in December.

On 5 January 1976, the ship deployed to the Mediterranean with embarked UDT 21, Det 2 and ACU2, Det E; and USMC BLT 3.

The Spiegel Grove was a member of Task Force 61. The ship anchored in Augusta Bay, Italy on 27 January. On that same day, during a rain squall, the anchor chain of the merchant ship Honesty (of Panamanian registry), parted, and caused the merchant to drift and collide with the bow of the Spiegel Grove. Minor damage occurred to both ships, but no personnel were injured.

On the morning of 21 June, the LSD began the operation "Fluid Drive" - the evacuation of Lebanon. LCU 1654 was launched and 110 Americans along with 166 foreign nationals were evacuated to the Spiegel Grove.

The remainder of the deployment went well, and the ship returned to Little Creek on 15 July.

August and September saw the ship preparing for a six month overhaul. On 20 September, the ship got U/W for Yorktown to offload her ammunition. On 29 September, she was U/W for Baltimore, MD where she began her overhaul that would last throughout the remainder of the year.

In 1976, the Spiegel Grove earned the Amphibious Assault award and the CIC "E".

The USS Spiegel Grove remained in the Bethlehem Steel yards in Baltimore, MD for all of 1977. The Commanding Officer was Captain V.R. Bush. This overhaul included major modifications to the enlisted dining facility and galley. In addition, extensive work was accomplished in the main engineering space where a majority of equipment was overhauled.

The overhaul was completed on 27 January 1978. On 14 April, Cdr. J.C. Van Slyke, Jr. relieved Cpt. Bush.

On 19 May the ship deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for RefTra. On 18 July, the LSD sailed to Bermuda to participate in the special CNO project OMAT (Ocean Measurement & Array Technology). The Spiegel Grove returned to GTMO on 16 September to complete the RefTra.

The ship deployed to Panama City, FL to participate in another special CNO project working with the latest US Navy landing craft: JEFF "B" Assist craft. November and December 1978 were spent in Restricted Availability at port in Little Creek, VA.

January 1-10, 1979 were spent in port, Little Creek. Cdr. Van Slyke commanding. On 10 January, the ship deployed to the Mediterranean as part of MARG 1-79. This cruise went without a hitch, and the Spiegel Grove returned to port on 19 June and stood down until 13 August 1979. On that date she departed for Panama City, FL fro training with the experimental "JEFF" craft.

The remainder of 1979 was spent performing various amphibious exercises, including conducting LVT operations with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marine Reserve. The latter part of the year was spent preparing for the January 1980 Mediterranean deployment (MARG 1-80).

January 1980 was spent preparing for the upcoming deployment. On 30 January, the Spiegel Grove joined other ships of Amphibious Readiness Squadron Group 1-80, (USS Inchon, USS Austin, USS Spartanburg County, USS Fairfax County), under the command of ComPhibRon 6 - Captain Raymond Burris. (On 26 April, Captain E.W. Foote relieved Captain Burris).

During the transit across the Atlantic Ocean, the Spiegel Grove collided with the USS Inchon during an u/w refueling. The Inchon's helo elevator platform ripped through the Marine Corps berthing area, and substantial damage was done to the crane. There were no personnel injuries, but the Spiegel Grove spent several weeks in Rota, Spain undergoing repairs.

During the successful Mediterranean deployment, the LSD took part in several amphibious operations including landings at Medonheria, Portugal; Garuch, Spain; Capo Teulada, Sardinia; Dogenby, Turkey and Brindisi, Italy.

On 19 May, Commander John N. McKay, Jr. relieved Commander J.C. Van Slyke, Jr. of command.

The LSD returned to Little Creek on 2 July, and stood down until 26 August when she deployed for "Teamwork 80". This operation included 60,000 personnel and 170 ships from nine NATO countries in the largest amphibious training exercise in history. This exercise took place on the Norwegian coast.

January 1981 was spent in port for general upkeep. In February, the LSD deployed to Charleston, SC to test the feasibility of loading out Mine Sweeping Boats in order to transport them worldwide.

On 8 March, the Spiegel Grove deployed with the USS Josephus Daniels (CG 27) to the Caribbean Sea to demonstrate US Naval presence in support of US policies in Latin America and the Caribbean areas Carib Ops 81). CincLantFlt (Adm. Harry Train) and ComNavSurfLant (V-Adm. J.D. Johnson) were embarked on Josephus Daniels. This marked the first time since former Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, banned alcohol from US Navy ships, that wine and beer were served. This also may have been the first time in the ships' history that she brought home a stowaway from the Dominican Republic!

During May, June and July, the ship participated in two operations. The first one was Exercise "Solid Shield '81", and the second one was "Operation Life Line II" - this one working with the US Army's 7th Transportation Group.

On 26 July, the Spiegel Grove entered the yards at Norfolk's NorShipCo Shipyard in Berkley for an extensive overhaul.

In addition to a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Spiegel Grove received the Energy Conservation Award from the Secretary of the Navy.

January and February 1982 saw the USS Spiegel Grove undergoing her overhaul in drydock. During March and April the Spiegel Grove became the first LSD-28 class ship to successfully complete a Propulsion Plant Examining Board Light-Off Exam.

In May, the ship completed her overhaul 2 months ahead of schedule and returned to port in Little Creek.

The next several months were filled with numerous tests, exercises and inspections The LSD was awarded her first Navy "E".

On 8 October, Commander Thomas Summerlin relieved Captain John McKay as Commanding Officer. Two days later, the Spiegel Grove was U/W for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Refresher Training (RefTra).

RefTra was also completed ahead of schedule, and the ship was the first LSD-28 class ship to earn Operational Propulsion Plant Examination certification.

November saw the Spiegel Grove participating in amphibious refresher training and, during this reftra, she earned the highest scores ever recorded at amphibious refresher training.

Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award is received by the USS Spiegel Grove (for the year 1983) - the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award is presented annually by the U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations to one ship in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and one in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. A list of winners appears at the end of this article.

Generally the recipient is the ship with the highest score in the fleet's annual competitions for Battle Efficiency Awards, and is therefore often thought of as the fleet's most battle ready ship. This isn't strictly correct, because it has been the policy to rotate eligibility for the award annually among the various type commands (aircraft carriers, submarines, amphibious ships, etc.).

The award includes a small monetary stipend (about $500 in 2004). Commanding officers receiving the award must put the money into the ship's recreation fund, where it can be spent on athletic equipment, prizes for athletic or marksmanship competitions, recreation room furniture, dances, parties, and similar recreational activities.

From 1-19 January 1983, the Spiegel Grove was in port. On the 20th, she departed for "Operation Ahuas Tara/Kindle Liberty". Anchoring 29 January, at La Cieba, Honduras, the ship embarked 479 enlisted and 25 officers of the Honduran Army. An amphibious exercise took place near Puerto Lempira. The Honduran President and the Chief of Armed Forces were in attendance.

In February, the ship anchored in Gatun Lake, Panama Canal Zone, to conduct amphibious operations with the US Army.

March and April 1983 were spent in port. On 23 April, the ship participated in "Solid Shield '83". The ship returned to port on 4 May 1983. The remaining days of May 1983 were spent preparing for the upcoming "Unitas XXIV/WATC '83" deployment in June. On 15 June, the LSD departed for the annual good-will cruise. The first stop was Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico to rendezvous with the balance of the task force: the USS Jesse L. Brown (FF 1079), the USS Connolly (DD 979) and the USS Scott (DDG 995).

The Spiegel Grove returned to Little Creek on 12 December for standdown and the holiday leave period. The ship also began preparing for an upcoming overseas movement (POM).

On 19 January 1985, Commander Richard McCarthy relieved Commander Summerlin as Commanding Officer. During the first couple of months, the ship prepared for an upcoming Mediterranean deployment. In mid-March, the ship began it's restricted availability repairs to the engineering spaces, mainly the feed pumps and forced draft blowers. Due to repair problems, the RAV was extended and the Mediterranean deployment was cancelled.

In early May 1985, the Spiegel Grove acted as host ship for the arrival of the newest LSD to Little Creek: the USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41).

A shipyard strike in late summer hampered ongoing repairs. In December, the ship began preparing for the February 1986 LOE.

COMMANDING OFFICER's REPORTS for Fiscal Years 1985 through 1987 (.pdf)

January 1986 saw the Spiegel Grove receive departmental awards in Deck, Comms, and DC. The ship participated in LOE and sea trials in April. Mount 31 was replaced in April.

In June, the Spiegel Grove held a 30th birthday party commemorating the anniversary of the ship's commissioning date. The LSD won the Golden Anchor award in October.

Commander McCarthy was promoted to Captain in November, in December, the ship won the NavPhiBase Captain's Cup; the Vulcan Phalanx Close-In Weapons System was also installed as was the 4 Coffin Main Feed Pumps.

The main feed pump installation was completed in February 1986. In March, the ship deployed to Guantanamo Bay for RefTra. In May, the Spiegel Grove underwent Combat Systems Readiness Review (CSRR), and in June she deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as part of MARG 3-87.

In November, the Spiegel Grove returned to Little Creek. December was spent in standdown mode.

During the 1987 Mediterranean deployment, the Spiegel Grove became CTU 76.8.2, better known as ComPhibRon 32 as the mining of the Persian Gulf by Iran reconfigured the MARG deployment schedule.

Due to the extreme water temperatures in this part of the world, the Spiegel Grove lost both of her evaporators, and she had to shut down the boilers. The ship then performed a 'dead stick' maneuver alongside the USS Ponchatoula (TAO 148) for a fresh water transfer. The ship received a 'well done' from CTF 76, R-Adm Smith. The LSD was also designated as Top Operator during the MARG 87 deployment.

The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) was decommissioned in 1989 and from that time until late 1996 she rested as part of the 'mothball fleet' in the James River in Newport News. It is her fate to be sunk as part of a piscine reef off Key Largo, Florida sometime in Spring-Summer 1997**. This will also provide a venue for divers as she will reside in approximately 110 feet of water. Her mast will be just 40' shy of the surface.

** The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) was towed to the James River Reserve (JRR) site on 02/04/94. Title of the ship was turned over to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the ship was offered up to become part of the fishery reef program. It was supposed to be sunk off Key West, FL but there have been problems with the EPA with regards to clean up of toxic materials such as asbestos, PCBs and lubricants.

As of April 1998: Currently is that the ship is still at the fleet site awaiting the EPA to determine the best way to clean up the ship. The JRR is located near Fort Eustis, VA not far from Williamsburg.

5 May 1998: I received an e-mail from someone at one of the dive shops participating in the project in Key Largo, FL. He reports that the major hurdles (EPA imposed hazardous materials cleanup) that have prevented the ship from being sunk as a reef are now a thing of the past! Watch this page for additional information as it becomes available.

8 May 1998: It looks like it could be November '98 before the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) is submerged in Key Largo. For continuing updates on our beloved ship, I invite you to visit my friend's site @:

31 July 1998: I'm still in contact with MARAD, the EPA & the diving team. Currently, they are still awaiting for the effects of El Nino to vanish....

11 September 1998: A group of eleven hardy souls trekked to the James River Reserve Fleet in Ft. Eustis, VA for one last look at the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) as she sits awaiting her fate. In our group were my wife and my two sons, who have seen many pictures of my ship and ports of call, but not the real thing. My kids got the day off from school for the "ultimate field trip"! They had a blast and many of their questions were answered while many more came to mind. (Now they know why dad is the way he is!!)
The first thing I noticed was that she had a port list on, perhaps a few degrees or so, but very definitely a port list.
All in all, we spent approximately an hour and a half combing her now dark and quiet passageways in search of our Navy past. Paint hung in off-white strands from the overheads, was rusted through on the bulkheads and the decks were littered with the debris of age and neglect. We were not permitted into the engineering spaces due to water, and other dangers. Nor were we permitted into the crew's berthing spaces below the water line for possibly the same reason.
Paint chipped off in our hands as we grabbed handrails going up and down ladders. The haze-gray paint on her bulkheads was faded to almost white in places. Her hull numbers were painted over in black or dark gray as was her name, save for the portside aft, where "SPIEGEL GROVE" could partially be made out.
Primary Flight Control (Pri-Fly) was locked and it's windows covered with metal. Cables, and rotted line lay about haphazardly, so one had to watch one's head as well as feet! (Man, the Bo'sun woulda been pissed!)
The welldeck was moldy and plants had sprouted between the planks. Broken glass was strewn about as well as various pieces of metallic debris. Some of the hatches were welded shut, while others were off the posts. One of our party stepped into the messline prior to checking the deck...and was soaked to his ankle! The entire messline, and from what I could determine from the main passageway looking forward down the line, was under about a foot of water!
Moments later we'd discover that the passageway outside of the 'E' Division offices were under water as well!
Our boarding party consisted of a plankowner and a crewmember that decommissioned her back in '89. The author of this WEB site was present as well as folks from Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Tidewater region. Planning for this event goes back to this past April and we were limited to how many we could bring aboard, hence there was no notice published at the wish of the JRRF. I am sorry for not posting the information, but I invite folks to contact the James River Reserve Fleet in Ft. Eustis, VA to try and get a last look for yourselves. She'll be there until after hurricane season per her owners (a dive shop in FL).
Those of us that made the trip took pictures, and mine are elsewhere on this site. I am expecting my good friend in PA to send me copies of his shots & I'll post them when I get them.
Another highlite of the trip for me, was meeting, technically not for the first time, a former soldier, also a 'Kevin', who was stationed in Panama in the early 1980's. Well, after talking with him on our return trip to 'the beach', it turns out that his outfit was 'launched and landed' in an amphibious excercise with the USS Spiegel Grove - & as an OS, I was one of the guys that sent him off at 1981!! Small world.....
While I was prepared in advance that she 'was in real bad shape', and I expected it to some extent, it really hit home as I was leaving: this was it. No more Spiegel Grove. I have to keep in mind that when I left the ship in Valparaiso, Chile in 1983, I never figured I'd see her again, anyway...

Again, too I think that I've come to grips with her fate: to be a reef; it's gotta be better that having her act as a target for some tin can or sub's missiles...

I URGE you to look back at the photo (prior to looking at the pictures of her today) at the top of this page and remember the USS Spiegel Grove as she was in her prime: sailing the high seas and protecting our country. Her history, but a brief blip in the world's timeline, was still flecked with importance, as were the histories of many of our ships. While she never served in a war other than the Cold War, were her services still not important? Yeah, it can be said....I love My Ship!


14 September 1998: Received an e-mail from my friend in Key Largo - The ship was legally sold to the Chamber of Commerce in Key Largo, FL, but then was issued a "hold order" until the yard in Galveston has permits for storing liquid PCB's. The PCB's on the Spiegel Grove are all solid, however. Until the yard has the required permits for storing liquid PCB's, the ship will remain at James River Reserve Fleet in VA. The EPA is the issuing agency in this case, and had the permits been issued when they were to be issued, then the ship would have been moved to Texas for final strip-down.

13 May 1999: Received an update from my friend in Key Largo - The ship is now "officially" owned by the state of Florida. This means they can proceed as planned, but now have a new "snag". Whoever was going to tow the vessel for the Ocean Divers originally either can't or won't. It's going to cost almost $100,000.00 to get it moved to Brownsville for cleanup, according to the current estimates we are getting.

28 September 1999: The latest update is that the financial aspect of the ship's fate is taken care of, mostly from loans from the county, etc. Most likely the ship will be moved in either late October or early November 1999 to Brownsville, Texas for final cleanup. Please stay tuned to this page!

5 October 1999: Currently holding up progress is the weather...! This time we find that the James River (VA) facility has suffered at the hands of hurricanes Dennis & Floyd. To be exact: the ships, once serenely at anchor, have been rearranged by Mother Nature! They are no longer at the anchor position they once were, and the tugs, apparently not huge, are a bit overwhelmed sorting things out! More to follow!

7 December 1999: As of now, everything is on track for the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) to be towed to Brownsville, TX for final cleanup. Still waiting for a lengthy weather-window..I reckon that the James River Reserve Fleet has been restored to "it's proper upright position"...!

3 January 2000: From my friend in Florida: "Some changes have been made to the 'master plan.' The Spiegel Grove will now undergo her 'cleanup' at a location not far from where she now resides at the James River Estuary (Virginia). She is slated to be moved "on or before" January 11th. For the fourth year, we plan to have her in Key Largo, 'sometime this spring.' "

24 January 2000: From Jerry of ESCO Marine out of Brownsville, TX, one of the guys who is readying the ship for her final departure down the Atlantic Coast I have this: The job of stripdown should commence next week and take approximately 10 weeks or so to complete. The preparation of the ship will take place in Norfolk, VA. When the work is completed, she will be towed to Florida. QUESTION HERE: WHAT KIND, IF ANY, OF BALLAST IS ONBOARD HER? IF ANYONE KNOWS, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP!! Thanks a lot!!

21 February 2000: This is straight from our friends at Ocean Diver's: "The EPA is at it again... The ship was supposed to have been moved last month for cleanup. The move was never made, as the EPA has, somehow, re-established a role in the process. The agency has asserted that we need "one more signature" on "one more form", before the ship can be moved. Since the form and the signature required are their own, we are yet again in a state of limbo. Everything is once again "on hold", until the specified bureaucrat finds the time/strength to lift pen to paper."

16 October 2000: From Ocean Diver's: The ship has officially been released! In the next few weeks the Spiegel Grove will be moved to a nearby shipyard for "clean-up". Any toxic, or potentially harmful substances/materials will be removed from the vessel. Once this is completed, she will then be moved to Key Largo for final placement (sinking).

3 November 2000: From Ocean Diver's: Yet again, an agent of the EPA has found a way to impose a personal agenda to stall the project. The latest delay will likely tie things up for a few more months. By circumventing all "normal" EPA regulations, and procedures, they have managed to get an order requiring additional testing of the so-called hazardous materials used to build the ship. At this time, our best information is that we may see the Spiegel Grove in Key Largo by the Spring of 2001 (just 4 years behind schedule).

6 February 2001: It looks like things are beginning to fall into place concerning our ship. There is an effort amongst all the players involved that could, I stress COULD, see the Spiegel Grove Florida bound by late this spring and put in her final resting place come summer. Stay tuned for updates as I get them....

2 March 2001: News! The possibility exists that the ship will be moved to a pier in Portsmouth on or about 13 March! It is at that time the real work is to begin cleaning up our ship: PCB removal, electrical wiring plus anything that may endanger either divers or sea creatures. The process is expected to last a few months with the ship in Florida perhaps as soon as Memorial Day! Stay tuned to this page and PLEASE, do not make any vacation plans based upon this tentative information!

13 March 2001: More news! The probability exists that the ship will be moved to that mystical pier in Portsmouth on 20 March! The state of Florida is in control of her now and has decided that the responsibility for the ship is to be transferred to Monroe County. A memorandum is being drawn up this week to make it so..... stay tuned....

24 March 2001: Well, now there are lawyers involved down Florida way...this one claims the FWC (fisheries & wildlife conservation) does not have the legal authority to sign any documents regarding the ship! This even though the artificial reef program is administered by the FWC! We are now awqaiting Florida Governor Jeb Bush to sign the, the saga continues! AGAIN, DO NOT MAKE ANY FIRM PLANS TO VISIT THE SHIP IN FLORIDA UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!!!!

4 April 2001: Lawyers are more involved than ever it seems down Florida is said that the FWCC does not have the authority to accept federal donations (Spiegel Grove). During the meeting that all this information stems from, the insurance issue arose but it was proven (via a quick fax) that the ship was/is insured. The Certificates of Title are in the possession of the FWCC (as transferred from MARAD). Soooo, currently, the slowdown is at FWCC legal department as they appear to be hesitant to take the ship for fear of any unforeseen liabilities. More to follow. AGAIN, DO NOT MAKE ANY FIRM PLANS TO VISIT THE SHIP IN FLORIDA UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!!!!

16 April 2001: And even more of the same. It seems that Florida is in a quandary (still) over whether or not they have the authority to accept FREE property from the US Government. After the YEARS of extremely hard & tedious work of navigating the EPA, MARAD, BEIC, etc, the hardworking men & women involved in getting our ship to her final destination is bogged down FOR THE DURATION in bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. If you visit Key Largo looking to see our Girl put down, don't say you haven't been warned! :) I will try to keep this updated as best I can as anything can change at any time on this one....

01 May 2001: Meetings and more meetings over the fate of the Spiegel Grove. Legal wrangling over who has the overall the liability regarding the cleaning, towing and put down of her. No one seems to want to accept responsibility on the issue. More information to follow (of course) as there may, I say, MAY, be a light at the end of the tunnel (oncoming train?!). Stay tuned, and for now, I'd recommend that you stay home!

08 May 2001: Meetings seem to be culminating in a positive way for the Spiegel Grove. The FWCC does indeed have the right to accept a ship from MARAD. Currently, due to the signatures needed to complete the transfer (folks are located all over the state it seems), the best guess for the ship to leave her anchorage for the cleanup site will be at least 2 more weeks. More to follow....

22 May 2001: FINALLY! All documents have been signed and forwarded to MARAD who advised the JRRF to set a moving date. The JRRF is working with the contracting firm to set the moving date at this time (to the pier in Portsmouth for the actual work that needs to be done prior to her going south).

5 June 2001: SNAFU: troubles with the title transfer documents - possible move date to the pier is now mid-June. NOTE: The USS Spiegel Grove is written about in the June 2001 issue of Skin Diver magazine!

8 June 2001: There is a Miami Herald article out recently that suggests the the Spiegel Grove will take about 4 months to clean before she can be sent to Key Largo (Dixie Shoals - 5.5 miles appx. off Key Largo). This coupled with a POSSIBLE new move timeframe to the pier of mid-June...we may be looking at sometime in September or so before she makes it the Sunshine State. At that time, the weather conditions mentioned many times above may come into play: hurricane season, and I don't mean the University of Miami football team! : Stay tuned and I appreciate your visiting my website as always! THIS JUST IN: moving the ship for stripdown looks LIKE A GO for late next week!!!!!!!! We'll see, as we've been w/in 5 days of a move in the recent past only to be put on hold...but I'm more optimistic this go 'round!

15 June 2001: The Spiegel Grove MOVED from the James River on the 13th! Once her cleanup is complete, she will be towed to Key Largo, FL. However, due to insurance costs, she will probably NOT go south until early November, the conclusion of hurricane season. There is a fine article on her towing out of anchorage as well as a photo of it @ Stay tuned as always!

10 August 2001: Work continues into the dog days of August. All appears to be on schedule at this point.

24 September 2001: Work continues - looks to be roughly 45% complete - the Spiegel Grove is now expected to be in Florida sometime in December, conditions permitting.

29 September 2001! More photos!
Went aboard today at the invite of the Foreman in charge of her cleanup! Wyatt, Blackie & I spent the better part of 5 hours crawling all over the Spiegel Grove as she sat, ripped, beaten and trashed at a pier in Portsmouth, VA. I shot several photos, which are linked below. Readers of this ships' history will recall that I was completely blown away at the devastation I witnessed back in 1998 - as they say: that was nothin' compared to today! Naturally, this is due in whole to the cleanup process. Complete access was granted, so for the 1st time I got to actually get into after steering and crawl up & out through shaft alley (greasy mess, it was)! Piles of electrical cables were scattered about, gun barrels were removed from the 3 remaining mounts. The messdecks, under water in 1998, were less so today. The glass hatch leading into the ships' store on mainstreet had been smashed and the display cases broken. Water was leaking into this compartment from above as was the case in the barber shop. Among other things I witnessed was the not quite abundant supply of 'girlie magazines', appearing to be vintage, guys, now you know where that errant Club or Penthouse went! :)
Quite a bit of the railing that some of us leaned over in rough seas had been removed or mangled, probably during the towing process. I finally got a look at OI berthing, where I was able to catch a wink or 2 between the P&S watches underway. All of the racks as well as the hammocks on the port side had been removed. Once in awhile one would see a rack drawer laying on the deck in a corner.
The latest line on Spiegel Grove's departure is slated for early to mid-December. The work is estimated at being 45-50% complete now. More to follow.....
29 September 2001 Photos - 24 + pages!

24 November 2001: Work continues, but it's lagging behind expectations. Currently, the process is NOW scheduled to be completed by early NEXT year - possible put down dates are projected into either late February or early March, 2002. Load on top of that the financial shortfall of roughly $500k - the money will be raised selling dive medallions to divers, with the remainder being put up by Monroe County.

11 December 2001: Work continues, but it's so far behind schedule that another contractor has been contacted. Currently, the best departure date for Key Largo is late February-early March 2002.

5 January 2002: The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) has been moved from her original contractor's pier across the river due to contractual problems! Work is to resume with the new contractor, Jacobsen Metal. It is unkown at this time as to whether or not the transfer time-frame to Key Largo will be impacted.

22 January 2002: The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) is at Baybridge Enterprises in Portsmouth, VA. Work continues under this new contractor and is expected to last 120 days or so....possibly, she could be underway to her final port of call in May of this year.

7 February 2002: Work is progressing very well to this point since her relocation. Current predictions call for her to be underway by mid-May (best bet) to June for Key Largo. Stand by gang.... 

12 March 2002: Current plans are for the Spiegel Grove to be towed to Florida sometime during the week of 16 June 2002....more to follow....

3 April 2002: The ship remains at Baybridge Enterprises yard, work ongoing. Current projections call for the inspefctors to arrive and go over the work. Final inspections by the EPA and the US Coast Guard are pending. Once they are completed, the vessel will be cleared for transportation to Key Largo for sinking. We will not have an exact arrival date until the inspections are finished, but it should be some time in mid May. There appears to be no change in the transit to Florida portion of the program....

2 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! Work is progressing wicked fast on her now! The Spiegel Grove COULD leave Virginia NEXT WEEK for Key Pargo & be parked in her final homeport as early as 15-18 MAY!!!! Stand by....

 7 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! From the folks who know best: "The final US Coast Guard inspection of the Spiegel Grove was completed today (ed. 5/6/02), and the ship will be moved to Key Largo on Wednesday May 8. The move should take 3-4 days and there will be 3-5 days of work required to prepare the ship for sinking. Some things, such as cutting holes in bulkheads, cannot be done prior to the move, since the ship must still be seaworthy during transportation. I'm sorry that I can't give you an exact date of sinking, but it will most likely occur during the time period from Friday, May 17 - Monday, May 21."

 8 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! The Spiegel Grove is leaving Norfolk today, Wednesday, 8 May for the final time. She is scheduled to be in Key Largo on 14 May. Most likely, she will be put down between 19-21 May. FROM SHIPMATE BILL CARROLL, former radio host in Key Largo: anyone from the Spiegel Grove is welcome to attend the radio show next Thursday night (the 16th!) at Snapper's waterfront saloon and raw bar at milemarker 95 oceanside. As this show will be centered around the sinking we would be happy to interview people on the show. Showtime is 6:30 until 7:30 (EASTERN)! What a great opportunity shipmates! Kevin.... (late note: I will be on the show via telephone!)

 11 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! As of 9AM (EST), yesterday morning, the Spiegel Grove was east of Wilmington, NC. Her projected arrival in Key Largo is Monday May 13th, or early monring of the 14th. The anticipated put doan date is 17 May but MAY change....

 12 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! As of 8AM (EST), Saturday morning, the Spiegel Grove was off Charleston, SC. Target dates to Key Largo are still legit... of noon TODAY, she was off Fernandina Beach, FL moving at roughly 6.8 knots. Due date to Key Largo is Tuesday, 14 May... When she's ready, technicians will use small explosive charges to get the ship to slowly fill with water. The plan is for the Spiegel Grove to be positioned upright on the bottom, not on her side as originally thought. Part of her will be within 40 feet of the surface, while other areas will be as deep as 124 feet.

 13 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! As of 6PM (EST), Sunday evening, the Spiegel Grove was near Cape Canaveral, FL. travelling at 6 knots. Her due date/time as of this update is 05:30 Tuesday, 14 May....

13 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! As of 6AM (EST) today, she was off Fort Pierce, FL, approximately 142 miles miles from her destination. Arrival is expected around 8AM (EST) tomorrow!

14 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! As of 11PM (EST) Monday night, she was off Fort Lauderdale, FL, approximately 60 miles miles from her destination. She is travelling at roughly 7.5 knots with the help of another tug from Ft. lauderdale (brought out due to strong Gulf currents). 8:30 this morning looks good as her arrival in Dixie Shoals. KEY LARGO HOTEL AVAILABILITY INFO: 800-822-1088 (CHAMBER of COMMERCE). LATE ADD: The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) IS in Key Largo...for further information, please visit the Florida Keys website...Thank you!

15 May 2002: NEWS FLASH! The Spiegel Grove arrived in Key Largo officially at 8AM yesterday morning. As of 6PM last night, her 4 anchors were in place, holding her in her final position until Friday when she is tentatively set to be lowered into her undersea berth using 'marine-friendly' explosives....

16 May 2002: The Spiegel Grove awaits her projected Friday, 17 May lowering into her undersea berth in Key Largo. There is a smorgasbord of great information on her as well as the trials and tribulations she (and her crew amongst others!) went throughto get her to this point...Visit the Florida Keys web-site @ for more Spiegel Grove information! Great site & I recommend that you visit today!

17 May 2002: The Spiegel Grove is to be lowered into her undersea berth this afternoon, 14:00 EST, using low level explosives to get the job done. If all goes according to plan, divers may be able to dive her by Sunday....

17 May 2002 (13:30 EST): The Spiegel Grove lowered herself 4 hours ahead of schedule this morning! At the time of her premature descent to the ocean floor, there were welders aboard. As far as I can tell from my sources, they made it off safely. I hope and pray that this is true.... She landed upside down in the silt...not sure as of this writing how/if she will be righted....Apparently there was still plenty of welding to do to make her a safe haven for divers....more when I know more...

17 May 2002 (19:30 EST): CNN reports that at approximately 10:30 EST, she slowly turned turtle and sank to the bottom in roughly 160' of water, upside down. Other information that I have indicates that she may be resting on her cranes, perhaps on the corners of her stern. The hull more than likely still has air in it. Current plans call for tugs to assist in either righting her (using airbags in her welldeck), or at least rolling her onto her side and stabilizing her there to save this massive dive project. May I direct you to my friend's site, for some great photos & a blow-by-blow account.... The photos, for all of my shipmates that steamed aboard her are, to be blunt: a bitch to see! GREAT pix, though....

19 May 2002: Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Board Members met late Friday night to review proposals from a few different salvage companies as efforts to resettle the ship as originally intentioned continue. It is expected that acontract with one of them will be signed today, Sunday. Local diver's recovered equipment yesterday that was left when the Spiegel Grove unexpectedly went down early. As my friend Matt Weyerich says, "Reef On"!

20 May 2002: Word is that rthe contract has been signed and a crew is ready to straighten things out. If the weather holds, the salvage team says that they ca have the work done possibly by today, Monday. Key Largo weather has not been cooperating as of this report.

21 May 2002: The problem, ACCORDING TO ONE SOURCE, that caused the ship to turn turtle was a combination it seems, of ordering the removal of the hatches too soon and complete loss of trim. A report came in saying that the stern was losing draft at about 10AM. The ordnanceman that was to set the charges in her engine rooms found them to be under a few feet of water when he went down...this was roughly 3-4 hours too soon for them to be awash I'm told. The feeling of the Project Team is that there was a catastrophic failure in a bulkhead somewhere below, perhaps in the engine room, that CAUSED the ship to flood more rapidly than expected. The 60-page Sink Plan was executed as per the plan. Due to the plan, there were NO injuries or deaths. It's expected that another quarter million dollars will be needed to fix this problem....more to come. For ways to help with $$, please visit the Florida Keys website.

22 May 2002: Work on resettling the ship is progressing...hopes are still to be finished righting her by the weekend...roughly...

23 May 2002: Work began in earnest early this morning. Currently, there is no projected date for the end of this salvage effort. A 100' long tug, along with divers, an engineer and salvage master are now the key players in the USS Spiegel Grove saga. As for now, ballast tanks are being tested for air injection and air bags are to be attached to her sides. As has been in the past, please stay tuned!

25 May 2002: Plans to reorient the Spiegel Grove were approved by the USCG yesterday. Several 10-ton lift airbags and 3 large air compressors will be used in conjunction with tugs to right the ship. Due to weather conditions, work has been suspended through Saturday as of this writing. Once the winds and seas subside, plans call to immediately begin work. Read about what happened from those who were there!

28 May 2002: Divers spent yesterday working to identify locations to attach the air bags on the ship. 4 of these bags are 24' high and capable of lifting 600 tons of dead weight. This additional lift will add to the ships' buoyancy once the air is fed into her port ballast tanks.

29 May 2002: Work resumed on Tuesday after a 3 day break due to high winds and heavy seas. Airbags deployed will help lighten the port side of the ship so she can be flipped onto her starboard side. Confidence is high that she can be fully righted.

30 May 2002: Workers recovered items lost when the ship went down early on 17 May. Items pulled from the deep included an antique cutting torch ca. 1940's and a huge welding machine that was delcared a total loss. Also on board were a box of "I Helped Sink the USS Spiegel Grove" t-shirts. The wife ogf the project coordinator worked hard to remove the rust stains from them to no avail. It's expected that the rusty shirts will bwe an even bigger hit with the volunteers than the ones stain-free....

1 June 2002: The target dates for rolling the ship over are estimated to begin between 5-7 June according to the salvage complany doing the work. Changes in weather conditions will no doubt delay this initial attempt at rolling her over. Plans call for setting chains to her port side, connected to hydraulic jacks on the tugs to provide 300 tons of pulling force. This coupled with the 60+ air bags, giving 500 tons of lift & the 3 knot currents in the area will hopefully be enought to begin her rolling over. A ship model and salvaging software were used to predict the possible sequence of events. In any case, this salvage will be a dangerous one for the divers and I wish them all well....

5 June 2002: The salvage company charged with righting the Spiegel Grove will begin the maneuver on Friday, 7 June - 1 day short of her 46th Commissioning Anniversary. Air bags, and 'super tugs' will be used in conjunction with the prevailing current to shift the ship onto her starboard side. It is hoped that she will evenutually be restored to her original planned position: on her keel. Currently, she is resting on her flight deck with approximately 70' of her upturned bow clear of the water.

6 June 2002: Air bag installation was completed on Wednesday that will lift the Spiegel Grove to zero buoyancy so she can be flipped onto her side, or better yet, onto her keel. Port side ballast tanks were also tested that are to be injected with air to give an extra 2,000 tons of lift. Plans remain to perform the flip-over task on Friday, 7 June, weather conditions permitting. I, for one, believe that Resolve Marine CAN do this job! Go get 'em!...Kevin

7 June 2002: The 'flip date' has been moved to Monday, 10 June. Salvage divers had difficulty accessing some of the ballast tanks due to some of them having baffles. Extra time will be required to pentetrate those tanks and enhance the chances of success in rolling her all the way over. It is hoped that the ship will be righted on Monday, weather conditions permitting as always.

10 June 2002: The 'flip date' is here. Two tugboats arrived off the Spiegel Grove yesterday and as of last night, air was being pumped into her ballast tanks. Ocean current is also to be a major player in her roll-over. Estimates on the power of the current range from 10-90 tons of pressure or movement. In conjunction with the tugs and air lift bags, it is expected that the ship will rise from the ocean floor to be righted in her correct position.

11 June 2002: It's over. Crews worked around the clock Sunday night into Monday and were able to get the Spiegel Grove onto her starboard side using all of the tools previously mentioned. This is to be her final position, on her starboard side, 6 miles off Key largo, Florida. She went below late Monday evening....

12 June 2002: Divers MIGHT be able to dive what is possibly the world's best known wreck this weekend! I am also hearing that PERHAPS efforts to get her all the way onto her keel MIGHT still happen....stay tuned!

15 June 2002: Divers will be able to dive the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) on Tuesday, 18 June! This delay is due to a weather system in the area that's creating rough seas as much as the need to retrieve equipment from the ship that had been left when she went down early on 17 May.

17 June 2002: I'm receiving reports that the Spiegel Grove is now leaking oil or hydraulic fluid. I can't verify this information as of this time. I'm also told that public diving will indeed commence tomorrow and that the earlier mention of it being an advanced dive may not be correct due to her being so close to the surface. Apparently there will be no further efforts to set her on her keel.....

18 June 2002: The fluid leaking from the Spiegel Grove may be hydraulic fluid, but tests being done at LSU haven't completed yet. Diving for today, as planned, has been delayed UFN. Thoughts are that the fluid may be coming from abandoned power equipment, lost when she went down early on 17 May may be the culprit.

21 June 2002: The fluid leaking from the Spiegel Grove is NOT harmful to either the environment or divers according the the lab at LSU. The small amounts of hydrocarbons are considered well within limits. The US Coast Guard has been requested to reinspect the site today, Friday. Divers will continue to search for the leak, albeit the flow has slacked off in recent days. The 500 yard safety zone will remain in place until the leak source is located and secured. Overall, the report is good news....

23 June 2002: The fluid that had leaked form the ship may have been cleaned up on Saturday according to sources. Special fabric that absorbed the fluid on the surface were emplyed successfully. A few gallons of what was apparently hydraulic fluid was located in a ceiling of a port-side compartment. The ship will be inspected on Sunday to determine if the oil leak has indeed be cleaned up and rectified. The USCG has final say on when the ship will open to divers, and in the meantime, will maintain a 500 yard off-limits area around the Spiegel Grove.

25 June 2002: The fluid that divers had thought to be cleaned up & secured has returned. Closer inspection showed that the remaining sheen was coming from an adjacent compartment - the machine shop. The ship was to be re-inspected yesterday and will remain closed to divers until further notice. The leak was found to be small engine lubricating oil.

26 June 2002: Finally! The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) is OPEN to diving! Mooring buoys were installed yesterday and the 500 yard 'keep away' zone was lifted by the Coast Guard. The Best Known Artificial Reef in the world is OPEN! Dive safely!

2 July 2002: So far, over a thousand divers have descended upon the USS Spiegel Grove only a week after she was opened for diving! In a week's time, many species of undersea flora and fauna have taken up permanent residence on her decks and bulkheads. Divers comments have all been positive and many are awed by her size. The ship has been designated as a multi-level dive site, meaning that there are various levels of expertise involved in diving her. Divers from novices to advanced/experienced will find many things to see and do. Some have said that "you can dive her a hundred times and not see everything".

18 May 2003: A "1 year on the bottom" update from Bob Serata: A little more detail: the surface current was really ripping; probably a couple of knots. Because we were on a commercial dive boat granny lines were tied all over the place. Looked like a map of the Mississippi delta on the surface. Seas were nice, long ones and twos, not our infamous short chop. I knew the AP lady had a tough day, but found out latter that one of the local Miami on-camera reporters was green enough that the station (CBS Ch. 10) later used pool video and didn't show him or use his audio. Current lessened on descent, then dissipated at about 50 feet. On the ship, it ran from stern to bow; a bit unusual because the prevailing Stream current tends to run perpendicularly over the hull. It was easy to cruise along the port gunwale, floating to either the "wall" side or topside without much effort.

Although the sideboard-down landing initially broke a lot of hearts and caused a lot of second-guessing, I think it was a good result. In ten years, the Spiegel Grove will be known as one of, if not the best wall dives in the Keys. I'll predict that when the hull gets grown over and fish life takes hold, the Sanctuary folks (or dive shop association) will drill some moorings in the sand off the hull. Boat will hook up, divers will descend on the mooring line, and lateral safety lines can be drifted toward the "wall." It will be an amazing sight.

The ship does not present that sense of being down a long time, yet. Very good coverage of "fuzz." Beginnings of soft corals, some flat sponges, lots of algae. Evolution has begun.

Arrow crabs have taken solid hold in every available horizontal crevice. Mostly seaweed-like bryozoans, a few tube-like colonies starting. Also looked like some hydroids taking hold but my old eyes might have been looking at algae.

The largest schools of fish were what I inaccurately and too generally call "baitfish." Laddie Akins from REEF said there were a lot of juvenile blue runner schools, but they looked more like snapper to me. Definitely not pilchards or pinfish. He's the expert, though.

A huge black grouper has taken up residence in a lower hole -- my sight angle was off so I couldn't tell what his home looked like and I don't know the ship well enough to give an accurate ID.

The big surprise was a pair (probably a mating pair) of tarpon circling the pilothouse. Id say one was in the 40-50 lb. range, the other easily 60+ lbs. If the Eagle wreck is any indication, snook and permit will soon follow the tarpon through the passes to the wreck.

One concern I had was caused by finding a lot of free floating, leathery-feeling paint chips, generally in the 1-2 inch size category. Doc Schweinler said that the urchins are breaking the pain loose. I'm not buying it. First, I never saw an urchin of any kind and, second, if it was urchins the chips would be in really tiny pieces. I think it was lousy work by the first prep & clean company (the one that missed 40 fuel bunkers. Anyway, Doc said the Sanctuary hasn't raised a stink so we'll just hope the chips get eaten up by all the sewage we're oozing into Florida waters. Yum.

I last dove the Spiegel Grove in about 6 feet of viz so this was more like a first dive. It is truly an amazing sight. I got an A in physics, but I'm still amazed something so big could actually float. Whatever service she gave to humans, she's now a life platform for what will certainly be hundreds of marine creatures.

I've been on maybe 50 wrecks in Truk Lagoon, around Palau and along the Keys. The Spiegel Grove will be something special among them. Today, she's got a quiet dignity, as if she was just resting, waiting for the ever-growing list of life cycles to build. In years to come, the thousands of divers who visit her will lose sight of the great ship and see a great reef. She'll have served mankind in the greatest manner possible on this planet -- by giving birth to an entire ecosystem. And the millions of inhabitants who live on but ignore her gift.

11 July 2005: On Monday, 11 July 2005, as a direct result of Hurricane Dennis, the Spiegel Grove shifted appx 50 yards on her anchors and now sits upright! The hurricane passed over 200 miles to her west and the underlying currents caused her to flip upright. The hightest point of the ship is now appx 60 feet below the surface. As of this update, the ship is off limits to all diving until expert divers assess the safety of future dives. Currently, there is quite a bit of stirred up silt and the like about...

The Spiegel Grove is home to at least 166 different species of fish, and temporary 'home' to thousands of divers, making her the #1 diving attraction in the Florida Keys.

From Bob Serata: Here's the short version: A dive boat went out this morning but couldn't find the buoys; phoned the Santuary office. Sanctuary sent someone out. Found the boat upright. Best early guess is that the currents from Hurricane Dennis pushed the boat along the bottom maybe 50 yards. Then the anchors grabbed. Because the anchors chains and cables had been wrapped around the hull when the ship originally was sunk, the current pushed it upright. Two dive teams are on site tonight to make safety and rigging checks. Florida media should have a decent story by tomorrow.

17 March 2007: 3 New Jersey men died while diving the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) on Friday; bodies to be recovered Saturday...more @ -
http://www1.wsvn.Com/news/articles/local/MI42094/ ....The Prayers of this webmaster & his Shipmatges are with their families.....

17 May 2012: By Associated Press, Published: May 16AP

KEY LARGO, Fla. - Divers marked the 10th anniversary of the conversion of a retired Navy ship into an artificial reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary on Wednesday, heading down to the Spiegel Grove to place the ashes of one of its most ardent admirers.

Local business leaders joined shipwreck enthusiasts for a ceremonial dive on the 510-foot former Navy landing ship dock that had been transformed into a massive artificial reef, six miles off Key Largo.

They also placed the ashes of Tom Maher, 54, a researcher who gathered economic data on the Spiegel Grove's role as a dive attraction. Maher died last year of a heart attack and had requested the wreck as his final resting place.

"Before the Spiegel Grove was put down on the bottom, basically we had a sandy, flat bottom; with no structure, no complexity no coral on it at all," said Lad Akins of the Reef Environmental Foundation, who lead a five-year study of the wreck's marine life.. "And this 500-plus-foot steel structure has provided incredible relief and complexity for use of marine life.

The Spiegel Grove has also had a significant economic impact on Key Largo, generating an estimated $25 million in tourism revenue during the past 10 years, according to Key Largo Chamber of Commerce officials.

"Key Largo is known as the dive capital of the world and the addition of the Spiegel Grove only furthered that name," said Russ Yagel, the chamber's board chair.

The story of its Spiegel Grove's voyage to the bottom at a depth of 130 feet is as intriguing as its present-day coral growths.

Designed to carry cargo and craft for amphibious landings, Spiegel Grove was in operation from 1956 until its decommissioning in 1989.

In June 2001, after more than a decade in the U.S. Navy's "Mothball Fleet" in Virginia's James River, Spiegel Grove was towed to undergo an elaborate cleaning process. Eleven months later it was moved to Key Largo.

Six hours before its intended scuttling, the vessel prematurely sank and unexpectedly rolled over, leaving its upside-down bow protruding above the surface of the water.

"At the time it was sunk it was not looked as a blessing, (however) ironically it resulted in a great deal of international attention that now makes people from around the world dive the Spiegel Grove," Yagel said.

Some three weeks later, on June 10, 2002, a salvage team sank the vessel fully and it came to rest on its starboard side. The enormous ship immediately attracted reef fish and marine growth. It officially opened to divers June 26, 2002, luring underwater enthusiasts to the new artificial reef's cliff-like hull sprawled across the sandy bottom.

Three years later, the story took another unexpected twist. July 9, 2005, brought what many call Hurricane Dennis' gift to sport diving. The storm skirted the Keys, but when it was east of Cuba it generated powerful currents that migrated up the Florida Straits - and turned the Spiegel Grove upright.

Enveloped by delicate corals and invertebrates, Spiegel Grove's top deck is about 60 feet below the surface of the ocean. It currently is residence for more than 200 species of fish, marine experts said.

Spiegel Grove stricken from US Naval register 1989

20 May 2017 - Ocean Divers posted this video of the recent plaque installation on the USS Spiegel Grove...

...and so it goes...

1968 ALVIN Cruise (Azores)
courtesy of James Marsh (FTG3)

 2001 Photos Page!

Spiegel Grove Cruise Page

Memories of USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) Sailors & Marines

Spiegel Grove's awards include:

  Meritorious Unit Commendation  Navy Expeditionary Medal National Defense  Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Humanitarian Service 

18 Jul 1958 - 6 Aug 1958

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon)

23 Aug 1958 - 7 Sep 1958

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon)

14 Sep 1958 - 18 Sep 1958

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon)

3 Jan 1961 - 1 Mar 1961

Navy Expeditionary Medal (Cuba)

8 Feb 1962 - 5 Mar 1962

Navy Expeditionary Medal (Cuba)

10 Mar 1962 - 14 Mar 1962

Navy Expeditionary Medal (Cuba)

24 Jul 1962

Navy Expeditionary Medal (Cuba)

24 Oct 1962 - 30 Nov 1962

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Cuba)

19 Jul 1965 - 21 Jul 1965

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Dominican Republic)

25 Aug 1966 - 16 Sep 1966

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Dominican Republic)

20 Jun 1976

Humanitarian Service Medal

1 Oct 1980 - 30 Sep 1981

Navy 'E'

8 Mar 1981 - 9 Apr 1981

Meritorious Unit Commendation

1 Oct 1981 - 30 Sep 1982

Navy 'E'

1 Oct 1982 - 30 Sep 1983

Navy 'E'


Thanks to MM2 Michael Hall...1987-1989!Where it all began in 1954>Spiegel Grove's Builder


Anyone who has served aboard the USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32), Sailor, embarked Marines/Army units, etc, may join the 
  USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) Reunion Association.  

Please contact:

Kevin Flatleyk

Data compiled, entered and verified by Kevin Flatley
Operations Specialist 2nd Class - US Navy
(OI Division/Operations Department)
Dates aboard: June 1980 - August 1983.O
Reunion Infon

If you're not a Spiegel Grove sailor, have you ever wondered what happened to your ship? Well, the US Navy keeps track of that here.

USS Thomaston (LSD 28) Class photo page 1 (of 4)


USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) fact page

Get the video of a great Spiegel Grove dive!

Tom Hammen's photos of the Spiegel Grove display at the Florida Dive Museum

USS Spiegel Grove (LSD 32) 1976 Lebanon Evacuation Memories