Smith Shoals Has Shipwrecks To Leave You Speechless

Smith Shoals

Smith Shoals has a history of ships coming to a watery end around their vicinity.

Some sunk naturally, but others were victims of American military mines.

During the months of June and August 1942, four large ships made fatal mistakes and blissfully ignorant to potential dangers, hit the carefully laid mines, placed at Smith shoals by their own country and with dramatic explosions were ripped apart.

The first was the vessel USS Sturtevant a four stack destroyer.

Totalling over 313 feet in length, the US Sturtevant was given the task of escorting a convoy safely through the Florida Keys waters.

It didn’t take long for her end to occur however, as she was only two hours outside of the port when the tragedy occurred.

The captain assumed that the explosion they first felt was due to a submarine attack, so retaliated with a depth charge, but a minute later the second explosion ripped her apart.

The USS. Sturtevant went down here which is about 8 miles off Key West north of the Marquesas Keys, resting in about 65 feet of water.

Fifteen of her crew were lost with the ship.

Not long after her sinking, the 3000 ton American Freighter Edward Luchenbach did the same thing and mistakenly sailed into the same minefield.

The cargo that it had brought from Jamaica to New Orleans, consisting of tin, zinc, and tungsten never made it to its destination and was lost for all time.

The third of the vessels to succumb to a mine explosion was the Bosilikja who made the same navigational and fatal error on route from New Orleans to Key West.

Although of course the loss of life and cargo cannot be discounted as anything short of a tragedy, the rusting vessels have become the perfect hiding places for groupers, jewfish and snappers.

Don't be surprised if from their rusting bodies a turtle comes into view either.

Smith Shoals

Nature generally finds a way of turning things to a positive if given the time.

The last of the dive sites is the Gunvor, which like the rest hit a mine on her way to Trinidad and disappeared below the waves, never to be seen again (except for experienced divers) who flock to the area due to the unusually high wrecks found in this area.

Smith Shoals

If you need a GPS to find the direct location where to start your diving experience then set it to Lat.24 45 30. Long 81, 01.18 or set off from Key West and look for the 47-foot tower that marks its location.

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