USS Massachusetts (BB-2)
GPS Location: Latitude 30 17.795’N Longitude 87 18.720’W
Launched on June 10, 1893 and officially commissioned by the US Navy on June 10, 1896 USS Massachusetts is the oldest American battleship in existence. At just over 350′ in length and 69′ wide, USS Massachusetts was one of 3 “Indiana” class battleships built as a part of the new “Steel Navy”. The “Indiana” class battleships were the first to feature heavy armor and heavy artillery and were also the first US military ships that were assigned hull numbers. USS Massachusetts (BB-2) was decommissioned for the final time in 1919. After being stripped of her guns, she was towed to Pensacola in 1921 to be used as a target for experimental artillery brought in by rail. Since being sunk nearly 100 years ago, she has continued to serve as an artificial reef and marine habitat. On June 10, 1993 the 100th anniversary of the ship’s launching, USS Massachusetts was officially dedicated as one of Florida’s Underwater Archaeological Preserves.
Joe Patti Memorial Reef
GPS Location: Latitude: 30 17.330’N Longitude: 87 13.755’W
Sunk in July 2013 the Joe Patti Memorial Reef instantly became of the areas most popular inshore dive sites. The metal artwork welded to the top of the barge truly represent all things Pensacola. The barge lays in 50′ of water with the top of the structure sitting at about 35′. This shallow wreck is a popular dive site for divers of all experience levels.
Joseph L. Meek Liberty Ship
GPS Location: Latitude 30 16.384′ N Longitude 87 09.574′ W
The Joseph L. Meek, a 480 foot long Liberty ship, was built for the Maritime Commission by the Oregon War Industries Ship Building Company in 1942. She was one of the many “Ugly Duckling” ships rapidly constructed in civilian shipyards during World War II. Liberty Ships were used to transport troops and cargo to the Allied Forces in Europe. The Joseph L. Meek was launched on November 16, 1942 and became part of the James River Reserve fleet. In 1976, she was removed from service and sunk as an artificial reef. The Joseph L. Meek now rests in 95 feet of water approximately 9.5 miles out of Pensacola Pass. The ship sits upright with her sides rising 20 feet off the bottom. Many large game fish inhabit this area making it a popular spot for fisherman.
Tex Edwards Barge
GPS Location: Latitude 30 16.138′ N Longitude 87 10.157′ W
Sunk in 1982 the Tex Edwards Barge sits in about 75′ of water roughly 7 miles east of Pensacola Pass. While the site has subsided some over the years, large sections of the barge remain intact. With several large overhangs, this site attracts a wide variety of sea life. This is a popular dive site for all levels of recreational divers.
San Pablo/Russian Freighter
GPS Location: Latitude 30 11.333′ N Longitude 87 13.057′ W
There was a lot of mystery behind the sinking of the San Pablo in August 1944 which led to the local name of The Russian Freighter. While not Russian or a freighter, the San Pablo actually spent her life as a fruit transport ship running from Central America to the United States. Recently declassified documents revealed that the San Pablo was sunk by the US Military using a top secret experimental weapon system deployed by a radio controlled boat carrying explosives. Home to an impressive variety of marine life the wreckage is spread out over a large 300′ X 40′ area and is one of 12 sites on the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail.
Ocean Wind Tug
GPS Location: Latitude 30 10.995’N Longitude 87 12.017″W
Sunk in January 2016 the Tug Ocean Wind is our newest wreck in Pensacola and has already become one of the most popular inshore dive sites in the area. She sits in just over 80′ of water upright and fully intact. The 87′ long tug boat was sunk just east of the “Russian Freighter” in Escambia County’s newest artificial reef site zone. “It was actually the tugboat that towed out many of our existing artificial reefs into the Escambia County artificial reef inventory. So it’s very fitting that this tug herself will take her place among our artificial reefs,” Robert Turpin, Escambia County Marine Resources Manager.
Lane Gilchrist Reef (Bridge Rubble)
GPS Location: Latitude 30 17.467’N Longitude 87 13.773’W
This site is comprised of 8000 tons of concrete rubble from that was removed from the old Gulf Breeze Fishing Bridge which was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. In a collaborative project between Escambia County and the city of Gulf Breeze, Escambia County Marine Resources deployed the rubble on a 60 acre site located about 3 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass with a maximum depth around 50′.
Three Coal Barges
Location: Latitude 30 17.450′ N Longitude 87 13.257′ W
In 1974, the 3 Coal Barges were sunk about 3 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass. Originally designated for an offshore reef location, during transport the barges broke free and were sunk at there current location by the US Navy before they washed ashore. The years have taken their toll on the barges, however they now lie in several broken pieces surrounded by a field of bridge rubble which was placed around the site to rejuvenate it.