FLORIDA West Coast Shipwrecks Empire Mica Wreck Panama City
Historical and current Florida West Coast Shipwreck Information and images for scuba divers, fisherman and marine historians.




   Capt. Dan Berg's Wreck Valley Collection   

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Shipwreck Diving E-Book  
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The Divers Guide to Shipwrecks around the State of Florida and the Florida Keys. Includes over 240 illustrations comprised of 151 color photos, 83 black and white historical images, 8 dynamic u/w sketches.
                    How to SHIPWRECK DIVING Guide By Capt Dan Berg 



The British standard type Ocean tanker Empire Mica was built in 1941 for the Ministry of War Transport at Haverton Hill, Teeside, by Furness S.B. Co. of Haverton Hill on Tees. She was 479 feet long, had a 61 foot beam, displaced 8,032 gross tons and was powered by 674 nhp triple expansion engines. She was managed by Anglo-American Oil Co. Ltd. of London.

On June 29, 1942, while en route from Houston and New Orleans to the United Kingdom with a cargo of 12,000 tons of clean oil, she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-67 and sunk off the west coast of Florida. The next day one lifeboat with 14 men aboard were rescued by the vessel Sea Dream. A total of 33 crewmen were lost.

Today the remains of the Empire Mica lie 64 miles from Panama City and 20 miles south of Cape San Blas in 115 feet of water. Her bow section is intact, and divers will recognize her two boilers, propeller shaft, and rudder. Her propeller was salvaged by Captain Laney Rinehart, who purchased the salvage rights to the vessel from the War Insurance Department for 600 pounds sterling, about $1,000. Laney's recovery story is testament to his own persistence. He started in 1981 and with the help of Jack Pounders planned to blow the prop off the shaft. After two explosions, the nut was off, but the huge propeller remained on the shaft. In June, Laney and his crew went back to the wreck, and after two more explosions, the prop was left lying in the sand. Laney returned to the wreck once again with two 20,000 pound lift bags. His plan was to lift the propeller, then tow it back to port. After one bag was rigged, they found the second lift bag had been sabotaged. Once again Laney returned to port without the propeller. Laney and Jack Pounders hired a 300 foot barge with a 190 ton crane and brought it to the site. They dove and discovered that someone else had stolen the propeller. Laney immediately contacted the U.S. Marshall, and they had the propeller located and impounded. Six months later, a federal judge ruled in Laney's favor. The huge propeller is now decorating the Captain Anderson restaurant in Panama City. 

The entire wreck seems to be covered with everything from barracuda, grouper, rays, and sharks to amberjacks.
Remember penetration into any shipwreck should only be done by those with proper training, experience and wreck diving equipment. Scuba equipment like powerful dive lights, navigation reels, dive knives as well as redundant air supply like a pony bottle or doubles are standard gear for wreck divers. The Empire Mica is one of the best wreck dives in the area; it should not be missed.

Photo: The Empire Mica was 479 feet long, had a 61 foot beam and displaced 8,032 gross tons. Photo courtesy Peabodv Museum of Salem.
Vic La Fountaine displays a port hole he recovered from the Empire Mica. Photo by Peter Jensen, courtesy Pat Gibson.

Basic shipwreck information and images for this section of this site was taken with permission from the book Florida Shipwrecks by Daniel Berg. You are invited to submit your shipwreck related articles, images and information. As long as the text, photographs, sketches etc are of professional quality we will showcase them. Full credit will be provided and a same page link to your web site can be arranged.

Florida Shipwrecks ebook
The Divers Guide to Shipwrecks around the State of Florida and the Florida Keys,

Buy Now only $9.95
10.2 MB instant download, printable  PDF file

By Dan and Denise Berg, 180 pages. Shipwrecks are an important complement to the natural coral reefs as a sport diving attraction in Florida. From the barley discernable ballast piles of the 1733 fleet to the almost perfectly intact modern ships sunk specifically as artificial reefs throughout the state, shipwrecks inspire an aura of mystery and fascination. Florida Shipwrecks is the most comprehensive, accurate, illustrated collection of information, photographs, sketches and stories ever written about the shipwrecks around the state of Florida. This downloadable ebook contains a wealth of enlightening information that gives the readers a nostalgic glimpse into the history and present condition of over 235 shipwrecks. Florida Shipwrecks includes over 240 illustrations comprised of 151 color photos, 83 black and white historical images, 8 dynamic u/w sketches. Divers , snorkelers, marine historians, armchair sailors or anyone with a general interest in history diving or the sea will surely find this ebook fascinating, as well as indispensable.


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