Panama City Beach is known as one of the top dive destinations in Florida, second only to the Florida Keys. The Gulf of Mexico has been dubbed the “Wreck Capital of the South” by Skin Diver magazine.
Wrecks & Artificial Reefs
Red Sea – Panama City’s newest dive site, the Red Sea was a 120′ freighter intentionally sunk June 24, 2009. She is upright in about 75′ of water, to the sand but just 40′ below the surface. Many reef fish have already taken up residence.
USS Accokeek – The Naval Dive School used the Accokeek for salvage and ordinance training beginning in 1987. After being sunk and re-floated repeatedly, the veteran tug was packed with explosives and sunk in 100′ of water on July 9, 2000.
S.S. Tarpon – The S.S. Tarpon is a 130’ steamer built in 1887. She sank in 1937 in about 95’ of water. The S.S. Tarpon was designated as Florida’s 6th Underwater Archaeological Preserve, making it unlawful to remove anything from this wreck. If you look closely you may see bottles the ship carried down with her as she sunk. You may look, but you can not take anything from this wreck.
Empire Mica – The Empire Mica was an Ocean Tanker built in 1941. She is 479’ long and she lies in 115’ of water. The tanker was torpedoed in June of 1942 by a German U Boat. The propeller of the Empire Mica is now located at Captain Anderson’s Restaurant.
Hathaway Bridge Spans – The Hathaway bridge was originally built in 1929. The spans were from the old bridge that connected Panama City to Panama City Beach. There are 14 Hathaway bridge spans. The spans were sunk in 1988.
Dupont Bridge Spans – The spans were from the bridge that connected Panama City to Tyndall AFB. The bridge was originally built from 1927-1929. Three of the spans were sunk in 2008. The spans are 180′ long, 25′ wide and 35′ high.
E.E. Simpson Tug – The E.E. Simpson Tug boat was built in 1877. The tug was 93’ in length with a 20’ beam. On October 26, 1929 the E.E. Simpson was asked to help a fishing schooner that had run aground while trying to enter the St. Andrews bay. The E.E. Simpson worked for more than a day trying to free the fishing schooner. The fierce wind and pounding waves were too much for the Simpson and eventually carried her to the bottom next to the fishing schooner. Today she lies in about 20’ of water, ½ mile offshore of the East Pass. It is best to dive this spot at low tide. An abundance of aquatic life lives in and around the E.E. Simpson. Sea turtles, stingray, baitfish, stone crab, and squid are just some of the occupants that call the E.E. Simpson their home.
Chippewa – The Chippewa was a 205′ tug boat. It was commissioned by the US Navy in February 1943. In 1989 the tug was assigned to the Navy’s Experimental Dive Unit for salvage and ordinance training. The boat was sunk in February 1990 in nearly 100′ of water.
Black Bart – This artificial reef is a memorial to Captain Charles Bartholomew who was the Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage in Panama City. The wreck was sunk in the early 1990’s. The Black Bart is a 185’ oil field supply ship. It sits upright in about 75’ of water. The top of the wheel house sits in about 45’ of water. This wreck is a great wreck for photography and wreck training.
Grey Ghost – The 105 foot long ex-Navy ocean going tug Grey Ghost was sunk 22 miles offshore by Panama City Marine Institute’s Artificial Reef Program in coordination with Bay County and a federal grant on July 12, 1978. She landed on her port side in 105 to 110 feet of water and due to her location on the edge of a natural reef, she immediately attracted a huge variety of aquatic life.
USS Strength – The USS Strength is a 185’ Navy Admirable Class Minesweeper. The ship was given to the Navy Salvage Diver School. She was sunk in 1987. The bow is broken and lies on its side, which makes the USS Strength a very interesting dive. The deck lays in about 60’ of water with the bottom located in about 80’ of water.