A Silver Spring man was one of two scuba divers who died in the Atlantic Ocean off the Delaware coast Sunday.

Coast Guard officials at the Indian River Inlet, Del., station said yesterday the victims were Robert Spicer, 34, of 11822 Gordon Rd., Silver Spring, and F. Russel Herten III, 24, of White Plains, N.Y.

The victims were experienced divers who were probing the wreck of the North Pacific, a 500-foot passenger liner that sank near the Indian River Inlet in the early 1920s, according to the Coast Guard.

The cause of their deaths was not immediately known, according to Lt. j.g. Dennis Lawrence, a Coast Guard spokesman at the U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Center at Cape May, N.J.

Spicer and Herten were pronounced dead at Beebe Hospital in Lewes, Del., at 8:50 p.m. Sunday, according to the Coast Guard.

Their bodies were retrieved from the top of the wreck, 80 feet below the surface of the water, at 4:25 p.m. by companion divers after a search that lasted several hours, authorities said.

Authorities said Spicer, who was a member of the Atlantis Rangers Inc. Diving Club in College Park, had 12 years' experience diving. He said Spicer's partner, who was not a club member but was also a professional, had been diving for five years.

Both men were qualified for decompression diving, authorities said.

The divers were among 16 people aboard the Mr. Ike, a 43-foot sport fisherman boat owned and operated by Tattersall Inc., of Wilmington, which was rented by the club and launched from the South Shore Marina at the inlet.

The 20-minute dive had been scheduled for 9:50 a.m. and 17 more minutes had been allowed for decompression in the 140-foot-deep waters, Wentworth said. The divers' oxygen supplies were expected to last them until 11 a.m.

When the other divers surfaced, authorities said, Spicer and Herten were not with them.