The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Duane lies upright on a sandy bottom in 120 feet of water one mile south of Molasses Reef off Key Largo.

After being decommissioned on August 1, 1985, as the oldest active U.S. military vessel, the Duane was donated to the Keys Association of Dive Operators for use as an artificial reef. On November 27, 1987, she was towed to Molasses Reef, her hatches opened, her holds pumped full of water, and down she went to begin her final assignment.

She is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Fast Facts

Location: Lat 24 59’38” Lon 80 22’92”
Depth: 90’ – 130’
Length: 327’
Beam: 41’
Date of Service: 1936 – 1943
Date of Sinking: November 27, 1987


The Duane was built in 1936 at the U.S. Naval Yard in Philadelphia. She was a 327-foot long Treasury Class Cutter, one of seven such vessels, and was named for William J. Duane, Secretary of the Treasury under Andrew Jackson. She had various assignments before being sent to the Atlantic in 1941, where she eventually served with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Her service included an impressive wartime and peacetime record.
On April 17, 1943, the Duane and her sister ship, the Spencer, sank the German U-boat U-77. She participated in four rescues at sea, picking up a total of 346 survivors. In 1980, she was an escort vessel for thousands of Cuban refugees coming to the United States. Her last assignments included search and rescue work and drug enforcement.

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