FLORIDA KEYS Shipwrecks USCG Cutter Duane Wreck Key Largo
Historical and current Florida Keys Shipwreck Information and images for scuba divers, fisherman and marine historians.




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The Divers Guide to Shipwrecks around the State of Florida and the Florida Keys. Includes over 240 illustrations comprised of 151 color photos, 83 black and white historical images, 8 dynamic u/w sketches.
                    How to SHIPWRECK DIVING Guide By Capt Dan Berg 


U.S.C.G. DUANE Key Largo

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Duane, hull #WPG 33, was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. as the William J. Duane, named after Secretary of the Treasury, under President Jackson. Her keel was laid on May 1, 1935, and she was launched a year latter on June 3, 1936. The Duane was commissioned on August 1, 1936. She was 327 feet long, had a 41 foot beam and was powered by two Westinghouse double reduction geared turbines. Her armament consisted of three 5-inch guns, three 3-inch guns, fourteen 40-mm and eight 20-mm guns. 

The Duane was originally stationed in California until being transferred to the East coast in 1939. During World War II, the Duane was credited, along with her sister cutter Spencer, with sinking the German submarine U-175. The Duane also served as a flagship in the 1944 allied invasion of Southern France and was sent to serve as coastal surveillance during the Vietnam war. On another occasion, the Duane rescued 250 survivors from the Dorchester. The rescue lasted for three days from February 3rd through the 6th. The Duane also escorted boats full of refugees during the 1980's Cuban boat lifts. On August 1, 1985, the Duane was decommissioned. 

She was purchased along with her sister ship the Bibb for $160,000. The money was raised by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and local dive shop donations. The Duane was cleaned of contaminants, her hatches were removed and she was sunk in an Army Corps of Engineers approved site near Molasses Reef as an artificial reef on the evening of November 27, 1987. Her sister ship the Bibb was sunk the next day. The ships now rest only 100 yards apart. 

The Duane sits upright and intact with a slight starboard list in 118 feet of water. The Duane's crow's nest is first reached in 60 feet of water, while her wheel house is in 80 feet. Her main decks are at 98 feet, and her bow points southeast. With the Clear Gulf Stream washing over the site, visibility can be as good as 200 feet, but usually ranges from 30 to 80 feet. A strong current is usually present. We recommend advanced training and experience due to depth and current on both the Bibb and the Duane. The Duane is now a dynamic dive site and has attracted a huge assortment of marine life. Mark Christiansen reports that schools of huge barracuda, three to five feet in length, are seen on almost every dive. Remember
penetration into any shipwreck should only be done by those with proper training, experience and wreck diving equipment. Scuba equipment like powerful dive lights, navigation reels, dive knives as well as redundant air supply like a pony bottle or doubles are standard gear for wreck divers.

Photo: The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Duane was built in 1935. She was 327 feet long, had a 41 foot beam and was powered by two Westinghouse double reduction geared turbines. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.
The Duane's mast and crows nest makes an excellent photo opportunity. Photo by Jozef Koppelman.

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.

Florida Shipwrecks ebook
The Divers Guide to Shipwrecks around the State of Florida and the Florida Keys,

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10.2 MB instant download, printable  PDF file

By Dan and Denise Berg, 180 pages. Shipwrecks are an important complement to the natural coral reefs as a sport diving attraction in Florida. From the barley discernable ballast piles of the 1733 fleet to the almost perfectly intact modern ships sunk specifically as artificial reefs throughout the state, shipwrecks inspire an aura of mystery and fascination. Florida Shipwrecks is the most comprehensive, accurate, illustrated collection of information, photographs, sketches and stories ever written about the shipwrecks around the state of Florida. This downloadable ebook contains a wealth of enlightening information that gives the readers a nostalgic glimpse into the history and present condition of over 235 shipwrecks. Florida Shipwrecks includes over 240 illustrations comprised of 151 color photos, 83 black and white historical images, 8 dynamic u/w sketches. Divers , snorkelers, marine historians, armchair sailors or anyone with a general interest in history diving or the sea will surely find this ebook fascinating, as well as indispensable.


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