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Conception, Miami-Dade

  Conception, aground on Miami Beach after a storm © 2010 Robin V. Burr

During the pre-dawn hours of February 3, 1991, the 150 foot Honduran freighter, Conception, succumbed to high wind and sea conditions and broke anchor two miles off the shore of Miami Beach. This concluded two weeks of waiting in the ships anchorage while attempting to make repairs to its main engine. The crew radioed for U.S. Coast Guard and commercial towing assistance while drifting without power toward a certain grounding on Miami Beach. And ground she did, within serving distance of Penrod's Beach Club's famous volleyball courts.

Over the following 60 days various agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. District Court, Florida Department of Natural Resources, Florida Health Department, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Dade County Parks Department, Dade County DERM (Department of Environmental Resource Management), the City of Miami Beach and the consultants to these organizations would invest hundreds of man hours and over $350,000 to remove pollutants, decaying organic material and the ship from the beach.

Once freed from the beach and safely back on the Miami River, the issues of admiralty law were debated for over three weeks to determine the final fate of the vessel. The final decision made by the Court was to seize the ship as property of the U.S. Government and offer her for sale to the general public.

The ship was purchased by the Miami marine salvage firm of Schurger Diving and Salvage and subsequently purchased by the Dade County Artificial Reef Program. The Conception was by far the most difficult ship to clean and certainly the most difficult to keep afloat during the process.

The ship was sunk June 7, 1991, exactly 1.9 nautical miles east northeast of Bakers Haulover Inlet, in the Sunny Isles Artificial Reef Site at Loran C coordinates 14239.0 and 62129.4. The vessel sits upright, with approximately 34 feet of relief on a large sand plane in 68 feet of water. She is only 200 feet to the north of the artificial reef, C-One.

Loran coordinates are Lattitude 25 54' 31.4" Longitude 80 5' 23.8"

Robin V. Burr, Scuba Examiner
Personal Scuba Instruction
Miami, Florida USA


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