Anna Maria Island Dives: Bradenton Beach Shipwreck

Anna Maria Island Dives: Bradenton Beach Shipwreck

If you are like a lot of us, you may not know that the remains of a Bradenton Beach shipwreck sit on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico only about 20 feet offshore. It makes for a great Anna Maria Island dive for anyone who enjoys exploring shipwrecks.

History of the Bradenton Beach Shipwreck

The SS Regina, built in Ireland, transported molasses between Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to US ports along the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast shorelines. The molasses was primarily used for making rum and other items. In 1940, when it sank, it was in route to New Orleans, the primary port for molasses trade.

Locally known as the “sugar barge,” the Bradenton Beach shipwreck sank in only about 20 feet of water as it was pushed toward the shore along with the tugboat the Minima. The Minima’s tow lines snapped as it was attempting to pull the Regina towards Tampa Bay where it provides some shelter from a nasty storm. The Regina drifted south in the storm and finally grounded on a sand bar.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

The heavy, high seas beat the barge to the point that it finally cracked and broke apart. The crew was afraid to abandon ship because the water was rough (that rough off AMI?) and they were far enough out that they weren’t sure of the outcome. Local AMI residents saw the ship in distress so they did what any local would do…they built bonfires on the beach to let the ship’s crew know they had been seen.

Because the storm was so bad, the Coast Guard’s Cutter sent to rescue couldn’t get to the ship. The Bradenton Beach police at the beach thought the ship could be reached from the shore; however, several attempts to reach the Regina with a line-towing gun went unsuccessful as did a line-throwing rocket which burned before it got to the barge. Eventually, all but the ship’s cook and his dog, were rescued and the Regina sank.

Shipwreck just off Bradenton Beach shoreline

Anna Maria Island Dive

Today, the Bradenton Beach shipwreck of the Regina makes makes for a fun Anna Maria Island dive. It sits just about 150 feet off shore at about 7th Street – just north of the Cortez Bridge. It is at the bottom in only about 20 feet of water and marked with a buoy.

If you are looking for an Anna Maria Island dive, we recommend you get with a local dive shop to find out more information about it or to even book a tour with them.