26 April 2023
FLORIDA KEYS – Among the Florida Keys’ dozens of shipwreck and artificial reef sites is a Lower Keys gem — the 210-foot Adolphus Busch Sr. wreck. Intentionally sunk Dec. 5, 1998, the vessel marks 25 years underwater in 2023.
Considered a main attraction in the Lower Keys for experienced divers, the wreck lies in 112 feet of water between world-famous Looe Key and American Shoal southwest of Big Pine Key. For an extraordinary wreck-reef dive day, underwater enthusiasts can combine exploration of Looe Key Reef with a dive on the Adolphus Busch. 

As well as being a short-haul island freighter, the vessel that became the Busch had a movie career. It co-starred with Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon and Rita Hayworth in the 1957 film "Fire Down Below." 

Built in Scotland in 1951 and previously called the London, Topsail Star, Windsor Trader and Ocean Alley, the ship was christened Adolphus Busch Sr. by the Anheuser-Busch brewery founder's grandson, Adolphus Busch IV. The younger Busch, an avid diver and fisherman, donated $200,000 toward the purchase, cleanup and sinking of the ship. 

Because the ship was sunk in a protected area in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, no explosives were used in the scuttling process. Instead, 12 holes were drilled in the Busch and water was pumped into its hull. It settled upright and in perfect condition on a sandy bottom, with its wheelhouse at a depth of 70 feet and main deck at 90 feet. 

Hatches and portholes were removed, but the ship remains otherwise intact. The 12 large holes provide safe, easy access into it. 

Within the ship, divers are likely to encounter enormous goliath grouper, a colorful spectrum of snappers, amberjacks, grunts, blue runners, barracuda, sharks and even the usually rare octopus.
Visiting from Florida Bay are schools of snook and permit. Sea turtles occasionally make a curious pass through.

Dive shops in the Lower Keys regularly visit the Adolphus Busch. Find a directory at
Florida Keys diving information: fla-keys.com/diving
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
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