Northwest Reefs & Shipwrecks
Northwest Florida has a huge concentration of artificial reefs and shipwrecks giving anglers and divers a wide variety of sites to visit. Our reef charts are crowded with sites, too many to mention here! We highlight the major shipwrecks of the Panhandle and we have the GPS Coordinates for them all on our reef charts.
The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail encompasses 12 shipwrecks located off Pensacola, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe. Divers can pickup a Passport at one of many local dive shops to document their dives to each site. Visit the Florida Shipwreck Trail's website for information on each shipwreck, just click the wreck name below, view underwater videos and learn more about these popular ships.
|Escambia||1974||Three Coal Barges||Three 140'x40' Coal Barges lay end to end||30 17.45||-87 13.257||54||10|
|Escambia||1943||San Pablo (Russian Freighter)||315'x44' Navy Target Ship built 1915||30 11.333||-87 13.057||84||27|
|Escambia||1993||Pete Tide II||166'x38' Oil Field Supply Vessel, upright||30 08.76||-87 14.02||105||43|
|Escambia||2000||YDT-14||132'x28' Navy Dive Tender built in1950's||30 05.33||-87 09.64||90||28|
|Escambia||2006||Oriskany Memorial Reef||888' US Naval Air Craft Carrier||30 02.555||-87 00.397||212||134|
|Okaloosa||1997||Miss Louise||95' Steel Tug Boat aka Crystal Beach Tug||30 22.286||-86 25.316||58||15|
|Bay||1993||Black Bart||180' Oil Rig Supply Ship, rests upright||30 03.622||-85 49.444||79||25|
|Bay||2003||FAMI Tugs||85' & 95'x34' Steel Derelict Tugboats||29 58.132||-85 51.259||100||30|
|Bay||2000||USS Accokeek||143'x33' Navy Tugboat, lies upright||29 58.475||-85 51.915||100||37|
|Bay||1987||USS Strength||184'x33' WWII Navy Minesweeper cir 1943||30 01.943||-85 42.512||77||35|
|Bay||1990||USS Chippewa||205'x38' Tugboat built 1942, upright & intact||29 57.676||-85 48.464||102||28|
|Bay||1942||Vamar (Lumberboat)||170'x30' British Gunboat||29 53.963||-85 27.9||10|
A Short History
Oriskany (CVA-34), an attack aircraft carrier, was laid down 1 May 1944 by the New York Naval Shipyard, launched 13 October 1945; and sponsored by Mrs. Clarence Cannon. While still incomplete, her construction was suspended 12 August 1947. She remained in a state of preservation until after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June 1950, and then was rushed to completion. She commissioned in the New York Naval Shipyard 25 September 1950, Capt. Percy H. Lyon in command.
Following carrier qualifications for Air Group 102, Oriskany departed San Diego 15 September 1952 to aid UN forces in Korea. She arrived Yokosuka 17 October and joined Fast Carrier Task Force 77 off the Korean Coast 31 October. Her aircraft struck hard with bombing and strafing attacks against enemy supply lines and coordinated bombing missions with surface gun strikes along the coast. Her pilots downed two Soviet-built MIG-15 jets and damaged a third, 18 November.
Strikes continued through 11 February 1953, heaping destruction upon enemy artillery positions, troop emplacements, and supply dumps along the main battlefront. Following a brief upkeep period in Japan, Oriskany returned to combat 1 March 1953. She continued in action until 29 March, called at Hong Kong, and then resumed air strikes 8 April. She departed the Korean coast 22 April, touched atYokosuka, and then departed for San Diego 2 May, arriving there 18 May. Oriskany departed San Diego 5 April 1965 for Westpac, arriving Subic 27 April. By this time more United States troops had landed in South Vietnam to support Vietnamese troops against increased Viet Cong pressure to destroy the independence of that nation. Oriskany added her weight to the massive American naval strength supporting the freedom of South Vietnam. In combat operations that brought her and embarked Carrier Wing 16 the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service between 10 May and 6 December 1965, she carried out over 12,000 combat sorties and delivered nearly 10,000 tons of ordnance against enemy forces. She departed Subic Bay 30 November and returned to San Diego 16 December.
Following twenty-five years of service, Oriskany was decommissioned 30 September 1975. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in July 1989, and sold for scrapping on 9 September 1995. The contractor defaulted and the ship was repossessed by the Navy, with the contract terminated 30 July 1997. The ship remained at the Beaumont Reserve Fleet in Beaumont, Tex., until December 2004 when she was towed to Pensacola, Fla., for preparation to be sunk as an artificial reef in the summer of 2005.
The massive aircraft carrier rests in 212 feet of water in a north-south orientation on the sandy bottom. The flight deck is at 130 feet (original reports claimed it was 150 feet -- a bit too deep for recreational divers). With an overall height of 151 feet, there is plenty of ship to explore. This video shows the sinking of the Oriskany in May 2006.
|Brems, Charles H., 1895-1995. Florida Memory|
The 10 ton 350'x70' Indiana-class steel battleship USS Massachusetts was commissioned in 1896 and served the eastern United States and Atlantic for over 20 years. She served in the Spanish-American War near Cuba and as a training vessel during World War I. The Massachusetts was decommissioned in March 1919 and given by the Navy to the War Department to be used for artillery practice in Pensacola Bay where she was scuttled in January 6, 1921.
The USS Massachusetts was named Florida's 4th Underwater Archaeological Preserve in 1993 and in 2001 added to the US National Register of Historic Places.
Today the USS Massachusetts sits in 26 feet, 1 1/2 miles from Pensicola Pass. This ship is popular destination, rich in aquatic life.
On July 31, 2013 the new memorial reef named Joe Patti Reef was deployed without a hitch. The reef, a 175 x 80 foot barge covered in artwork, was sunk in 50 feet of water with the top of the wreck only 35 feet from the surface. Located just 3 miles east of Pensacola Pass, the reef is an easy paddle from shore for kayakers and great dive for novices. This memorial was financed by the Patti family of Pensacola and created as a tribute their their family who has been in Pensacola since 1930's. Called an underwater art gallery, Artist Kevin Marchetti created 120 stainless steel memorials and sculptures, some of which contain the ashes of loved ones. The wreck even has a mock bar with bar stools and colorful beer mugs welcoming divers to take a break.
Viewing the video above you can see this is not a place for anglers to drop a line - if you would like to fish this site, please work your lines well away from the structure to prevent damaging artwork and entangling the structure with fishing line.
The 82 foot Ocean Wind tugboat was sunk Jan 13, 2016 as an artificial reef 10 miles southeast of Pensacola in 82 feet of water. Over the years, the Ocean Wind was commissioned to sink many artificial reefs in Escambia County. Escambia County, with the aid of private donations, purchased the decommissioned tug to fittingly join the others she towed to their final resting place off Pensacola. Funding from FWC paid for the preparations of the boat for sinking (removing glass, cutting holes in the hull, etc), the towing and other expenses related to sinking a ship.
The 50 foot tugboat Monica Lee was sunk as an artificial reef on May 10, 2011. She rests 16 miles southeast of Destin Pass in 114 feet of water.
Bay County is currently on a mission to document and correct their artificial reef GPS coordinates that were converted from the old Loran system by FWC. We anxiously await their corrected list of 35 sites that will be audited using a $12,000 grant from FWC. Once complete we will update our charts. Bay County needs your help verifying GPS numbers http://bay.ifas.ufl.edu/seagrant/reefs.
The 90'x40' Jeff A was Navy prototype Hovercraft built in 1979 and sunk in August 1995 as an artificial reef. This ship was built to never sink and it took quite an effort to get her down - 2 days to be precise. She is an excellent site to dive or fish, the site is teaming with sea life. Watch this video on the history and sinking of Jeff A.
Reef Reports Bay County
Bay County Reef Audit
August 2012 - We updated our Bay County reef charts. Mexico Beach reef GPS coordinates were confirmed with the help of Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Assoc who's members physically visited each of their 141 sites. For detailed site information visit MBARA's Reef Sites page.
August 2012 - With the assistance of Panama City Dive Charters we were able to confirm dozens of numbers on the Bay County chart and they gave us a few more sites to add to the list.
Reef Reports Gulf County
8/15/2012 - MBARA confirms the GPS coordinates for Empire Mica and comments: "It's large vessel and collapsed with a scattered debris field. Therefore, there are many numbers for it."
Send us your reports on our Reef Reports page.
Multiple resources were used to create our Florida GPS Coordinates Reef Charts. This data is provided as a tool to increase your fishing and/or diving enjoyment and is not intended to be used for navigational purposes. This information is provided only as a courtesy and there is NO guaranties, warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Florida Go Fishing assumes NO liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information contained here. If you find an error or omission in the data, please feel free to contact us with the correct information and we will verify the error or omission and correct it as soon as possible.