Scuba Diving the Wreck of the Duane
The U.S.C.G.C. Duane, named after William J. Duane, Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson, was one of seven 327’ Secretary Class Vessels. Launched in June of 1936, she served as a search and rescue/law enforcement vessel, and in 1939 she was operated jointly with the U.S. Navy as part of a destroyer squadron assisting with shipping in the North Atlantic.
In 1941 The Duane rescued 46 survivors from the British Merchant Ship Tresillian sunk by a German U-Boat. In April of 1943 The Duane and sister ship Spencer sank the German U-boat U-77. The Duane rescued 22 crewmembers from the submarine. In 1946 she was put back into peacetime service. In 1957 she rescued 28 from a sinking Finnish freighter near Bermuda. Between 1957 and 1968 Duane served in Viet Nam as part of the Coastal Surveillance Force. In the 1970’s Duane was involved in drug enforcement. On August 1, 1985 she was decommissioned as the oldest active U.S. Military Vessel.
The Duane is 327 feet long. She carried a complement of 12 officers and 116 enlisted men. She was fitted with one 5” dual-purpose gun and four .50 caliber machine guns. She cruised at 19.5 knots and was powered by two Westinghouse double-reduction geared turbines producing 6200 shaft horsepower total.
She was sunk November 26, 1987 as an artificial reef approximately one mile South of Molasses Reef in Key Largo.
Because of her position in about 130ft of water, the Duane often experiences strong currents that can make diving impossible, however, when conditions permit, she offers some of the best wreck diving in Key Largo. The currents and depth mean that this is a dive restricted to those divers holding a minimum of Advanced Open Water certification.
The same currents which make scuba diving difficult, attract large schools of barracuda who can often be seen “flying in formation” above the radar mast. Bull sharks are also commonly seen on this location and, less frequently, whale sharks are reported once or twice a year feeding on the plankton carried along in the Gulf Stream.
Over time she has become encrusted with coral. Particularly interesting are the orange cup corals. Her sister ship, the Bibb lies about a quarter mile closer to the reef. Scuba divers prefer diving the Duane due to the dramatic position she sits in!
Check our schedule for dive dates and time – Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo 1-800-451-3640