Reef Dives: Looe Key

Looe Key Marathon

Today, the wreck of the HMS Looe lies in just twenty five feet of clear, warm water, on the east edge of Looe reef.

When she was afloat, her gun deck was more than 124 feet long, her keel was just over 101 feet, and her beam was almost 36 feet.  Her hold was nearly fifteen feet deep, and she was 685 tons. (via Just Gotta Dive)

Looe Key/HMS Looe Marathon Wiki

HMS Looe was a 44-gun fifth rate warship of the Royal Navy. She grounded on Looe Key off the coast of Florida on 5 February 1744, during the War of Jenkins’ Ear.

Looe was lost off the Florida coast early in the morning of 5 February 1744.

Looe Key Snorkeling Marathon

Looe Key Snorkeling Marathon

She had a captured merchant ship commanded by a Spanish crew in tow when, just after midnight, she struck a reef, followed shortly by the merchant ship.

With a priority to escape to avoid capture by the Spanish, the three small boats carried by the frigate were inadequate to carry the 274 survivors, however a Spanish sloop was sighted nearby, which was captured after being chased by some of the crew in the frigate’s boats.

After the grounded ships had been salvaged for provisions, they were set alight and the survivors departed in the sloop and smaller boats.

The sloop managed to reach Port Royal, South Carolina. One of the smaller boats reached New Providence in the Bahamas, and one was rescued near Cuba.

Captain Utting was court-martialed, but acquitted.

The wreckage of the ship and her remaining cargo forms part of the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary (named after the ship) in the Florida Keys. (courtesy Wikipedia)

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