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USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32)
USS Spiegel Grove LSD-32
USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) with a LCAC returning.
Career Flag of the United States.svg
Name: USS Spiegel Grove
Namesake: Spiegel Grove
Awarded: 18 March 1954
Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Laid down: 7 September 1954
Launched: 10 November 1955
Commissioned: 8 June 1956
Decommissioned: 2 October 1989
Struck: 13 December 1989
Fate: Sunk intentionally in 2002 off Key Largo to form artificial reef
General characteristics
Class & type: Thomaston-class dock landing ship
Displacement: 8,899 long tons (9,042 t) light
11,525 long tons (11,710 t) full load
Length: 510 ft (160 m)
Beam:   84 ft (26 m)
Draft:   19 ft (5.8 m)
Propulsion: 2 steam turbines, 2 shafts, 23,000 shp (17 MW)
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
21 × LCM-6s
Unknown number of LCACs
Troops: 330 enlisted troops
Complement: 18 officers, 300 crew
Armament: • 8 × 3 in (76mm) DP guns (4×2)
• 12 × 20 mm AA guns (6×2)
Aircraft carried: up to 8 helicopters

USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) was a Thomaston-class dock landing ship of the United States Navy. She was named for Spiegel Grove, the home and estate in Fremont, Ohio, of Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States.

CareerEdit

Spiegel Grove was laid down on 7 September 1954 by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Miss., launched on 10 November 1955; sponsored by Mrs. Webb C. Hayes, and commissioned on 8 June 1956, Captain S. Filippone in command.

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

On 9 January 1957, Spiegel Grove, with other ships of Transport Amphibious Squadron 4 (TransPhibRon 4), sailed from Morehead City, North Carolina, 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 22 October, 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 88 (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 four-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 home on 8 September. She then entered Horne Brothers Shipyard, Newport News, Virginia, for an overhaul that was not completed until early January 1962.

USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) underway c1965

USS Spiegel Grove in 1965.

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 Mercury-Atlas 7. 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 (39,000 km) and visited nine countries before returning home. Spiegel Grove next deployed to the Caribbean from July to September with PhibRon 8.

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. In 1983, she won the Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award for the Atlantic Fleet.

Post-commission careerEdit

Spiegel Grove was decommissioned 2 October 1989 and her name struck from the Navy list on 13 December 1989. The vessel was transferred to the Maritime Administration in the James River fleet.

In 1998, title passed to the state of Florida, with the plan of sinking the hull to make an artificial reef off Key Largo. To achieve this, the EPA had to increase the acceptable amount of PCB (a toxic chemical substance) remaining in future wrecks from 2 ppm to 50 ppm.

Sinking for reefEdit

Red tape and financial problems delayed the sinking of USS Spiegel Grove for several years, but the ship was finally moved from Virginia to Florida in May 2002. The ship sank prematurely, on 17 May 2002.[1] During the sinking the ex-Spiegel Grove suddenly started rolling on her starboard side, ending up upside down on the sea bottom and leaving her bow protruding slightly out of the ocean. On 10–11 June, at a cost of $250,000 dollars, the ship was rolled onto her starboard side by Resolve Marine Group, and on 26 June the site was opened to recreational divers. In the next week, over a thousand divers visited the site. The depth of wreck requires that divers have an advanced diving certification.[2]

The ex-Spiegel Grove is located on Dixie Shoal, 6 miles (10 km) off the Florida Keys in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Her exact location is 25°04′00.2″N 80°18′00.7″W / 25.066722°N 80.300194°W / 25.066722; -80.300194Coordinates: 25°04′00.2″N 80°18′00.7″W / 25.066722°N 80.300194°W / 25.066722; -80.300194.

In July 2005, Hurricane Dennis shifted the former USS Spiegel Grove onto her keel, right-side-up, which was the position originally intended when she was sunk.[3]

DeathsEdit

In April 2003, 48-year-old Eunice Lasala, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, died while diving the Spiegel Grove.[4]

On 20 April 2005, Tarik Khair-el-din, 44 of Indiatlantic, Florida, died while diving the Spiegel Grove.

In February 2006, David Hargis, 48, of Kansas City, died while diving the Spiegel Grove.

On 16 March 2007 three divers (Kevin Coughlin, 51; Jonathan Walsweer, 38; and Scott Stanley, 55 – all from New Jersey) died while attempting a penetration dive inside the remains of the Spiegel Grove.[5][6]

On October 17, 2013, Captain Joseph Dragojevich, 43, of Lake County Emergency Medical Services (Florida) went missing while diving the wreck and was found the following day by rescue teams. This brings the total number of diver fatalities at the wreck to seven.

GalleryEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit


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