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Half Moon (shipwreck
Photo courtesy of Florida Maritime Heritage Trail, Florida Division of Historical Resources

Built in Kiel, Germany, in 1908, the Half Moon (originally named the Germania) was designed by the famous engineer Dr. Max Oertz. The racing yacht, constructed of chrome-nickel steel, was a wedding present from Bertha Krupp to her husband, Count Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach. An extremely fast ship, the Germania participated in the prestigious regattas at Cowes, England, and Kiel, Germany, before it was seized by the British as a prize of war at Southampton, England, in 1914, when the ship's captain brought it into port without knowing war had been declared.

Historic photo of the Half Moon
Photo courtesy of Underwater Archaeological Preserves, Florida Division of Historical Resources

The vessel sat and deteriorated in port until 1917 when it was auctioned off for 10,000 sterling to Mr. H. Hannevig who renamed it Exen and sailed it across the Atlantic. When Hannevig went bankrupt three years later, it was sold again and renamed the Half Moon. It was then purchased by Gordon Woodbury, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, who set about refurbishing it. The yacht was badly damaged in 1922, but was repaired and sold to Charles Vail and served as a floating saloon and restaurant during Prohibition. In 1926, the yacht sank in the Miami River but was raised soon thereafter. In 1928, Captain Ernest Smiley acquired the Half Moon and used it as a fishing barge until the ship wrecked in a 1930 storm and sunk for the last time. The Half Moon was discovered in 1987 and positively identified three years later. It is approximately 155 feet long by 40 feet wide and rests on its port side. Although the starboard edge has been struck by another boat and is damaged at the amidships, the Half Moon is in relatively good condition. However, there are not many artifacts associated with the wreck as it was used as a fishing platform before being designated as the state's seventh Underwater Archaeological Preserve.

The Half Moon is located on a shoal off of Key Biscayne near Miami, resting in eight-ten ft. of water, three-four ft. below the surface. The shipwreck is located within a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

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