The Business Justification of Cleaning UP LSD 32 (USS Spiegel Grove)

According to the Reserve Fleet administrators at Key Largo, each decommissioned vessel costs close to 20,000 a year for upkeep and maintenance; and taxpayers pay approximately $1.6 million to send a retired ship to the scrap yard.

While Spiegel Grove was rotting on the “mothball fleet” on Virginia docks, dive representatives persuaded the U.S. Maritime Administration to transfer the title of Spiegel Grove at no cost! They obviously saw some tourism potential hidden behind the bleak demeanor of this decommissioned U.S. Naval vessel!

Proposition Offered by Key Largo Dive Representatives

Based on financial calculations done for cleaning, docking, and towing the ship back to Florida, the Key Largo town administrators quoted a whopping $1 million as an estimated budget for the job. They knew that once the ship was resurrected and repackaged as an artificial reef, it would not only create a booming tourism business, but will continue to generate enough revenues to clear the debts caused by cleaning of the ship. For all the concerned and affected parties, this sounded like a great business deal, with the promise for a thriving business model.

They also knew that an environmentally friendly clean up job and conversion into an artificial reef would help provide new homes for fish culminating in great monetary benefits for the Key Largo community, and a wonderful way to preserve the vessel’s naval heritage.

And were they right in their future projections! Anyone who visits Spiegel Grove today will experience the pulse of a booming tourism industry, including booming hotel and transportation businesses.

The Monroe County Tourist Development Council and private fund-raising efforts such as sales of commemorative, Spiegel Grove medallions helped raise funds to mitigate the negative effects of debt burdens on the State of Florida!

Growth of Key Largo since Spiegel Grove’s opening on June 2002

An estimated 45,000 diving excursions to the ship since June 2002 has pumped in $14 million into Key Largo’s economy, as per financial figures preserved in Key Largo Chamber of Commerce.

Revenues generated from the sales of medallions are expected to reduce bank loans for the sinking project. With $210,000 in costs remaining, chamber officials are happy with the progress made so far toward erasing the debt. More than 17,000 plastic dive medallions have been sold for $10 apiece, and almost 750 of 1,000 gold-brushed, commemorative medallions have been sold for $250 each.

As indirect beneficiaries of Spiegel Grove, the ever-growing boating, fishing, and water-sports industries have managed to earn enough business revenues since 2002 to offset the brief period of shut-down after Hurricane Dennis.

Whenever you plan to visit Key Largo, remember to visit this booming area around Spiegel Grove, now dawning in an era of new tropical ecosystem. Along with the ecosystem, you will also find thriving businesses all around.