FLORIDA KEYS Shipwrecks Benwood Wreck Pennekamp Park
Historical and current Florida Keys Shipwreck Information and images for scuba divers, fisherman and marine historians.




   Capt. Dan Berg's Wreck Valley Collection   

BENWOOD Pennekamp Park

The cargo vessel Benwood was built in 1910 by Craig, Taylor & Co. of Stockton, United Kingdom. She was 344 feet long, had a 51.3 foot beam, displaced 3,931 gross tons and was powered by a 342 nhp triple expansion engine. The Benwood was owned by Skjelbreds Rederi A/S Kristiansand. 

On April 9, 1942, the Benwood was en route from Tampa to Halifax and Liverpool with a cargo of phosphate rock. She was running without lights as a precaution against the ever present U-Boat threat. By the time her crew spotted the American freighter Robert C. Tuttle, which was also running without lights, it was too late. The two vessels collided, and the bow of the Tuttle ripped into the Benwood's starboard side like a can opener. The Benwood was damaged badly but struggled to stay afloat. Her pumps were keeping up with the leaking hull, and she began to slowly make way. A fire which started on her deck after the collision made her an easy target and attracted a U-Boat. Some reports claim that she was finished off by two torpedoes fired from a German submarine which exploded amidships on her starboard side. After the initial explosion she started to head toward shore where the Captain had hopes of grounding her to make salvaging the ship easier, but she didn't quite make it. Her crew abandoned ship and all but two made it safely to the Robert C. Tuttle, which was only scratched in the collision. 

Today the Benwood sits with her bow pointing offshore in 50 feet of water and her stern in 25 feet, just inside Pennekamp Park. The Benwood's superstructure protruded through the ocean's surface until the 1950's when the wreck became target practice for the military. Even after being fired upon vigorously, the wreck was still considered a hazard to navigation and was finally blown up by the Army Corps of Engineers. This is a big wreck with lots of steel scattered across the bottom, and she is excellent for underwater photographers as well as fish watchers.

Photo: The Benwood was 344 feet long and had a 51.3 foot beam. Photo courtesy Raul Maya, William Schell collection.

Basic shipwreck information and images for this section of this site was taken with permission from the book Florida Shipwrecks by Daniel Berg. You are invited to submit your shipwreck related articles, images and information. As long as the text, photographs, sketches etc are of professional quality we will showcase them. Full credit will be provided and a same page link to your web site can be arranged.


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