S.S. Florida (Lake Huron — 200 ffw)

Background

The Florida was built in 1889 in Buffalo. New York. It was was a large package freighter that carried a wide variety of cargo, including boxes, barrels, and also bulk cargo such as corn and coal. It was powered by a steam engine but was built at a time when steamships still had sails and the Florida has three masts. The ship itself is 270 feet long and 40 feet wide so it has plenty of features to explore.

On May 20, 1897, the Florida was traveling in dense fog with cargo holds full of flour, syrup, manufactured goods, and barrels of whiskey. The Florida was headed north when it was struck by the steel steamer George W. Roby at 9:00AM. The impact nearly cut the Florida in half near the stern of the ship. The Captain of the Florida, Henry Murphy, said that the ship collapsed like a jacknife. It sank so quickly that the stern was crushed when it hit the bottom and air that was trapped in the bow below the pilot house off the ship. The George Roby was able to rescue the entire crew of the Florida.

The NOAA site has an interesting view of the Florida from the top that shows the damage near the stern:

Florida planview from the NOAA website

There is plenty of interior space to explore; however, I did most of my dive on the exterior of the wreck with a short trip through the cargo area near the bow. The deck of the Florida is at about 170 feet deep. Highlights include the dramatic break in the hull at the stern, gauges & controls that are still attached the starboard side of the engine, two anchors at the bow, and the capstan at the bow that displays the name “S.S. Florida.”

Photos

Gauges on the starboard side of the engine
Closeup of the engine gauges
Damage at the stern showing two decks (looking from the stern to the bow)
Closer view of the damage
Mel entering the cargo hold
Inside the cargo hold
Mel swimming towards the bow showing the size of the ship
Capstan at the bow
Capstan close-up

References

NOAA Florida page

Great Lakes Underwater

Shipwreck Explorers

3 thoughts on “S.S. Florida (Lake Huron — 200 ffw)

    1. Thanks, Steve. Yeah, I saw “captsone” in an article on the Florida which I thought was weird but also figured that maybe they used a different term. I’ve always used “capstan” and will change the text. Thanks for noticing and commenting!

      Like

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