5 Sunken Ships to Seek Out in the Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico may be known for its white sandy beaches and family vacation spots. But below the water’s surface lies a world of history with sunken ships scattered throughout the area. Click through this slideshow to learn about some of the Gulf of Mexico’s notable sunken ships — and how they met their watery fates.
Monterrey AKnown as the Monterrey A, this is one of three ships that sank 170 miles off the Texas-Louisiana coast in the early 19th century, according to the Associated Press (AP). Several artifacts, including muskets and cannons, have led scientists to believe that the vessel was a privateer, or a ship hired by governments to capture enemy merchant ships, the AP reports.Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.
Avanti (later renamed Windjammer)The Avanti, or Windjammer, is “a wonderful example of a large sailing vessel that was built during the romantic Age of Sail,” usually dated from 1571–1862, says Melissa Price, a senior archaeologist with the Florida Department of State. The ship sank in 1907 while hauling lumber from Pensacola, Florida, to Uruguay, according to the National Park Service (NPS), and scientists speculate that a severe storm caused the wreck. Today, the boat is divided into two main sites, both at a depth of 22 feet and about 1,100 yards off the coast of Loggerhead Key, Florida, the NPS reports.Image courtesy of Yasmeen Smalley, National Park Service.
Pete Tide IIThe Pete Tide II, an iron-hull supply ship, served the oil rigs of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources. The ship was sunk with C4 explosives off the coast of Pensacola in 1993 in order to be used as an artificial reef, Price says. The ship landed upright 100 feet below the surface.Image courtesy of Franklin H. Price, Florida Department of State.
USS AccokeekThe USS Accokeek served as a U.S. Navy tug (a boat used for towing larger naval vessels, especially in harbor) for 26 years, most notably in the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, during World War II, Price says. After its decommission in 1972, the vessel was turned over to the U.S. Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center to help train how to save — or target — a ship, she adds. In 2000, the tug was sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of Panama City, Florida, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources.Image courtesy of Barry Shively, Florida Department of State.
The USS OriskanyExtending about 900 feet long, the USS Oriskany was sunk as the world’s largest artificial reef in 2006, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources. The former aircraft carrier received two battle stars in the Korean War and 10 for its service in the Vietnam War, the Naval History and Heritage Command says. It now rests 22 miles off the coast of Pensacola at a depth ranging from 80 to 212 feet, the Division of Historical Resources notes. Price says sinking the ship was no small feat. Hundreds of pounds of explosives were placed strategically around the ship to let in water while allowing the ship to land upright on the bottom.Image courtesy of Jim Phillips, Florida Department of State.