A casualty of many salvage attempts at the time of its sinking, and military target practice until the 1950's, the remains of the Benwood are scattered over a wide area. Major sections of hull plating can be seen on the port side where they have been wrenched from the ship's frames. Other metal plates and pieces are also scattered over a 100-foot radius from the hull outline. These are probably pieces of the upper works and superstructure that posed a hazard to navigation. It is said that the Benwood was dynamited to reduce its profile and lessen its threat to modern vessels, but according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, there was no evidence of wreck clearing.
The result of these activities as well as the storms and currents that batter the shallow reef has been to reduce the Benwood to about one-third of its former height. Whereas it originally attained a hull depth of 25 feet 4 inches, only about 8 feet of hull can now be measured amidships. The bow is the most intact, forming an impressive 25-foot profile in the water column.
Previous studies have documented wreck elements that may be associated with the Benwood's demise. The remains of a metal cargo mast assembly has been noted some 800 yards away (Brown 1994:6). It is accompanied by a mast partner at a depth of 18 feet. These elements match historic photographs showing the Benwood with its large cargo masts, and they may have been blasted to their present location or carried by the strong currents.
The Benwood was originally powered by a 342 hp triple expansion steam engine which pushed her along at 9.5 knots (Berg and Berg 1991:97; Scott 1994:33). While the engine, boilers, drive shaft and propeller are missing, the propulsion system can still be visualized from the engine mount and pillow blocks that held it in place. The engine was situated on a rectangular plate measuring 12' 8" (l) by 6' 3" (w) by 2' 8" (h) (Nuttal 1994). Large bronze bolts with threads still intact are evidence to the dismantling and removal of the engine from its resting place.
Thrust was conveyed from the engine to the propeller along a drive shaft. It was supported by four lead-lined pillow blocks. These are spaced approximately 21'-22' apart which allows the propulsion system to be easily reconfigured (Nuttal, 1994).
The Benwood's hull structure is mostly intact up to the level of the first deck. Only a small midships section has had these deck plates removed, exposing the lower frames and keels on. Large steel knees join the deck plate to the outer hull and sides of the vessel. These are massive reinforced triangles of steel which outline the curve of the hull. Thus, they tend to be elongated triangles in the midships region where the hull bows out, and more equal-sided in the bow where the hull rises sharply. The result is that the ship's hull shape can be seen from these knees even though the hull plates themselves are mostly torn free.
The primary deck has been punctured in many places forming a network of "nooks and crannies." These provide important fish habitat but are not large enough to allow diver entry. Several holes enable divers to peer into the cargo hold where ore was carried for many years.