Dive Team: Dave Miller, Holly Miller, Shane Miller
Dive Date: April 5, 2010
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The Norwegian merchant freighter Benwood and the American steam tanker Robert C. Tuttle collided on the night of April 9, 1942. Rumors of German U-Boats in the area forced both ships to travel completely blacked out. The Tuttle was damaged but survived. The Benwood turned to make shore but sank.
DIVE FINDINGS: Four years later we returned. This was our second expedition diving on this World War II wreck and Holly & Shane’s first wreck dive. It was also Holly’s first dive at age age 16. It was a beautiful morning, 77 degrees, sunny, good underwater visibility at 40 feet for our 51 minute dive. Descending to a 45 foot depth, we were greeted with an eerie underwater setting created by the huge aft section of the wreck that looms sharply upward off the ocean floor. The maze of steel wreckage provides a haven for large numbers of fish from small tropical to large grouper. Swimming over the top of the wreck hiding in the steel ribs and coral were blue parrotfish, wrasses, sergeant majors, trumpet fish, blue tangs and butterfly fish. Swimming down to the sandy ocean floor on the starboard side, we sighted a barracuda staring at as with its evil eye and sharp teeth. Holly then spotted a sting ray hiding in the sand which rose and swam away as we approached. Schools of 10 to 40 grunts, snappers or jacks clustered along the side or on top of the wreck. For their first wreck dive Holly & Shane did great and enjoyed all of the aquatic life.
I included a photo taken in 2014 just north of Ormand Beach, Florida of a WWII Coastal Watch Tower. Manned by civilian observers, these towers were built after Pearl Harbor and located every 7 miles along the entire coast. Citizens rotated shifts to watch for German U-Boats.