Miami Area Dive Sites
The Dive Charter Operator I recommend to dive these wreck sites is: RJ Diving Ventures
The Doc DeMille was renamed at the time of its sinking in 1986 by the "Fish and Game Unlimited," who helped fund it, in order to honor a Homestead veterinary who had passed away. This is a 287 foot steel freighter originally built in 1949 by the Dutch as the "Domburgh." Her service was sailing fruit and passengers from Northern Africa to Europe (Rotterdam). The hull allready had been lengtened many years before which growned deadweight of the originally white-painted, refrigerated citrusfruits transporting-vessel. In 1968 she was a containership running between Rotterdam and the English Eastcoast. The company (Wm.H. Muller and Co., Rotterdam) however sold her to new Caribbean owners, in 1973, who renamed her "Nuevo Rio" under the Honduran flag.
The vessel had been laid up in the Miami-River, because of drug smuggling suspicion by Miami Narcotics Police-Department and U.S. Coast Guard. Salt water had damaged the engines and the ship had been confiscated. It was later cleaned and sunk by DERM (Department of Environmental Resource Management) south of Miami near Pacific Reef Lighthouse by Air Force bombers from Homestead Air Force Base. Concrete bombs are often used for target practice, offering the pilots an opportunity to sink the ship while providing divers and fishermen with another great artificial reef structure.
As with most of Miami's Artificial Reefs, it is totally intact. Despite the fact that it was in the direct path, this wreck was not affected by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Perhaps because of its size or weight? We don't know the reasons, but it remains a classic deep water wreck dive, and truly impressive.
Because of its depth (140+) and immense size, it takes several dives to truly explore this artificial reef with approximately 70 feet of relief. On one of my dives I counted a family of six jewfish (Goliath Groupers) that live within the wreck. You need to be one of the first down to the bottom in order to see them, as they are shy and reclusive and will hide in the dark engine room where most divers won't venture. On a rare occasion, in the picture on this page, one of them modeled for us near the bow.
Something else of interest - as of 2007, the stern has completely separated from the remainder of the ship. It has fallen off into the sand. This separation is more than likely due to the repositioning of the superstructure from mid-ship to the stern.
Special thanks to Jaap Jager,of the Netherlands, for his contribution to the historic facts on this vessel and the three historic photos of the vessel. His father was the last Dutch captain of the ship and he and his brother had accompanied their father on it's journey's from Rotterdam to England, during holidays in the early seventies. Jaap and his brother came to Miami in 1986 to see the ship one last time but it had already been sunk a few months before they arrived to their disappointment. The picture on the right was taken in1968 after converting the 'Domburgh' at the shipyard Niehuis en Van den Berg in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
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