The Sturtivent, Luckenbach and Gunvor all sank after hitting the US mine field that protected the islands of the Florida Keys

The Sturtivent doesn’t have any markers or mooring buoys to mark the shipwreck. The depth of the water is 65'. It’s located 18.4 miles from the Johnston Keys in the backcountry of the Florida Keys. This is NOT a Sanctuary Protection Area. The GPS Coordinates are 24'45.300N and 081'01.180.

She measured 314' long by 30' wide and displaced 1,190 gross tons. She was a four-stack U.S. Destroyer. She was built in 1918 by the New York Shipping Company. She was commissioned on September 21, 1920. She was armed with four 4 inch guns, one 3 inch anti-aircraft gun, twelve torpedo tubes and 20 millimeter machine guns.

The convey of ships left port on April 26, 1942. She was the escort ship. Only two hours out she hit one of our mines and blew a hole in the stern of the ship. The captain thought he had been hit by an enemy torpedo. A few minutes later she hit another mine. This one hit midship and sent her to the ocean floor. Other ships in the convey came to the rescue of the crew. One hundred and fifty two crew members were saved. Fifteen lost their lives in the blast.

Later it was learned that the Captain hadn’t been informed that the U.S. had laid a mine field in a horseshoe shape around the Florida Keys just the day before.

Today the Sturtivent is broken into two pieces and metal parts are scattered all around her. She provides a home to large gamefish. There’s usually Jewfish, nice cobia, permit, grouper snapper, kingfish and big bull sharks. Most of the time the visibility is poor. The bottom is silty so be careful with your fins.

Several other ships shared the same fate from our mine field. The Luckenbach was a 436.6' long American Freighter. She hit our mines on route from Kingston, Jamaica to New Orleans. The first one blew a hole in her port side forward of the engine room. About three minutes later another mine was struck just a few feet from the first hole. This one sent her to the bottom. One crew member was killed in the first explosion the remaining 41 crew and 12 Naval armed guards were rescued. She was carrying 10,000 tons of tin and zinc ores, 1,800 tons of wood, animal hides and mail. Captain Richard Kelly hadn’t been warned about the mine field and wasn’t held responsible for her sinking. The Luckenbach was later wire dragged and is now scattered in 55' of water.

The Gunvor was a 227' long and 43' wide Norwegian Steamship. She was carrying a general cargo on route from Mobile, Alabama to Trinidad. She sank on June 15, 1942 after hitting the same U.S. mine field. I had the GPS coordinates to this shipwreck but some how erased them. I have Loran numbers if you have a machine that converts them, then you’re in business. The Loran numbers are 24'55.143N and 081'46.254W. This is a really great place to fish. I haven’t been there in several years because it was getting too crowded for my liking. All that’s left of this shipwreck are scattered pieces. There’s jewfish, grouper, snapper, cobia, permit and large bull sharks lurking below just about every time you visit this wreck.

About a mile away from this shipwreck is a superstructure. I’ve been told it belongs to the Gunvor and I’ve been told it belongs to the Cayman Salvage wreck. It’s a great place to catch nice permit. In the good old days every time you’d drift across it with a live crab, you’d get a hook up. Way too many people found out about this wreck and have ruined it. It’s in 52' of water and the Loran numbers are 24'56.800N and 081'46.200W.

The Sturtivent isn’t the only shipwreck here because she hadn’t been warned about the mine field in the Gulf waters of the Florida Keys.

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