City of Washington Shipwreck

Wreck Diving in Key Largo with Sail Fish Scuba

In 32 feet of water East of Key Largo, lays the remains of a shipwreck known as the City of Washington on the very North end of the barrier reef system called Elbow Reef.

City of Washington Shipwreck Dive Site Description

The City of Washington wreck lays in 25 to 32 feet of water 5.25 nautical miles East of the North End of Key Largo. The remains of the City of Washington lie on the far North end of the Elbow Reef System. On July 10, 1917 the tugboat Luchenbach #4 towing the City of Washington and the Seneca ran aground on this reef site. The Luchenbach #4 and the Seneca were soon refloated, but the City of Washington broke up and was a total loss within a few minutes of sinking.Wreck Site: City of Washington site is 325 feet long and contains mostly the lower bilge section of the steel hull. The hull structure can be followed for most of the contour, although several huge gaps are present. The site extends approx. 140 feet wide and debris of the ship can be found off the main site in the sand beds and near by coral reef sections.

On 10 July, 1917 while in tow behind a tugboat, the City of Washington sadly ran aground right onto this beautiful reef system, slowly sank and was deemed a total loss.

Min. dive depth:
• 16′

Max. dive depth:
• 34′

City of Washington Shipwreck Additional Information

The City of Washington was built at Roach’s Shipyard in Chester, Pennsylvania, as a two-masted sailing vessel. She was launched in 1887 for use in passenger transport and the cargo trade between New York, Cuba, and Mexico. In 1889, she was refitted with a 2,750-horsepower steam engine which dramatically increased her speed.

The City of Washington’s moment in history came the night of February 15, 1898. Because of deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Spain over the rebellion in Cuba, the USS Maine was moored in Havana Harbor to protect American interests. That night the Maine exploded. The City of Washington was moored close by and suffered damage to her awnings and deck houses by flying debris. Her crew assisted in the rescue of the Maine survivors.

This was the final event leading to the Spanish-American War. During the war, the City of Washington was used as a transport ship carrying troops. She returned to her passenger and cargo runs following the war until retirement in 1908. Three years later she was purchased and converted into a coal-transporting barge.

On July 10, 1917, the tugboat Luchenbach #4 towing the City of Washington and the Seneca ran aground on Elbow Reef. The tug and its second vessel were soon refloated, but the City of Washington broke up and sank.

Today this is one of our favorite Dive and snorkel locations here in the Florida Keys. The wreck has taken on new life as a coral encrusted thriving reef filled with fish of all kinds!

Max depth when going East of wreck, 34 feet. Min. depth 16 feet.

-From http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/ shipwrecktrail/cityofwashington.html

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City of Washington Shipwreck in Key Largo