On the 10th of May 1980, four members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) lost their lives when a Cuban missile sank their ship, the HMBS Flamingo, also the flagship of the RBDF. The Flamingo was attempting to stop two Cuban fishing vessels from poaching in Bahamian waters. Two Cuban MiG–21s then entered Bahamian airspace and fired on the patrol boat, sinking it. Fenrick Sturrup, Austin Smith, David Tucker and Edward Williams lost their lives. The U.S. Coast Guard donated four US Cutters to the RBDF in their remembrance, and they were put into service. The David Tucker was decommissioned in 1996 and donated to Nassau’s artificial reef program, and Stuart Cove’s sank it on the southwestern end of New Providence in 1997. Here it can be found running parallel to the Tongue of the Ocean drop off, bow to the east, stern to the west.
Jumping off the back of a dive boat and descending onto the David Tucker is truly a thrill. The position of the wreck only dramatizes the vertical wall that drops down to the ocean floor not 20 feet (6m) off its starboard side. Many small crustaceans, reef fish and skates call the wreck home. The sand around the wreck is always alive with garden eels and sometimes turtles snacking on a sponge. The wall section of this dive is fantastic either way you decide to explore it. Enjoy the deeper part of your dive first, taking in the abundance of life that descends downward until you can no longer see it. The swim back to the David Tucker and dive boat will not disappoint. Wide-open areas of reef curl over the edge of the wall as it ascend upwards towards the shallower area, close to the island. Remember to leave enough time to swim around the wreck before heading back toward the dive boat for your safety stop.
Stuart Cove’s was honored to sink three of the four US Cutters that bore the names of fallen marines. The Edward Williams is located south of the dive shop and marks the furthest dive site off New Providence; the Fenrick Sturrup is one of three wrecks positioned side-by-side at a spot called Steel Forest, not far along from the David Tucker; and finally The Austin Smith found its final resting place to the north of Highbourne Cay in the Exumas.