A group of divers descended in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary on Sunday to mark the 20th anniversary of the sinking of a former US naval ship. A commemorative plaque was affixed on 510-foot-long iconic vessel Spiegel Grove, which sank prematurely on May 17, 2002.
The ship was turned into an artificial reef after its sinking two decades ago.
The plaque was affixed to honour the veterans who served on the ship, commissioned in 1956. It also honors the project’s multimillion-dollar supporters.
Spiegel Grove gained international attention when it landed 6 miles (10 kilometres) off the coast of Key Largo with its upside-down bow protruding above the water’s surface. Spiegel Grove fully sunk on its starboard side on June 10, 2002, after a huge clean-up operation, The Independent reported.
The ship’s intended upright position was the result of strong currents and waves generated by Hurricane Denis and pushed east of Cuba that forced the ship into the position.
Rob Blester, a Key Largo dive operator and the sinking project manager, was quoted as saying by The Independent, “Ultimately, the Spiegel Grove is a story that Hollywood would never have been able to script in a million years.”
Spiegel Grove is the world’s third-largest ship ever intentionally sunk to become an artificial reef, according to CBS News. One of the most popular diving sites around Florida, the ship attracts thousands of divers every year, the report further said.
The 20th anniversary of the sinking was marked from May 15-17, according to local publication Keys Weekly. The museum, which hosts the ship, launched a month-long exhibit about the ship in its research library on the occasion. It will tell the visitors about the wreck and its fascinating heritage till May 31, Keys Weekly further reported.