Panama City Beach - Dive The Black Bart

Dive The Black Bart


The Black Bart Dive Video

Black Bart Early History

Christened Vulcano del Golfo in 1977, this offshore oilfield supply vessel was sunk as an artificial reef in 1993 in memory of Navy Supervisor of Salvage Captain Charles “Black Bart” Bartholomew.

The Vulcano, now The Black Bart Wreck

Besides her oilfield job, the Vulcano del Golfo was a 175-foot supply ship used for offshore diving operations. Back then, a 175-foot ship deserved a titan’s name, and when it sunk in Panama Beach on 1993 it remained one of the biggest wrecks in the bay.

Black Bart – Most Popular Dive Site

Being only around 6 miles from the pass in Panama City Beach, Black Bart is the most popular dive site for the dive tour operators in the Panama City Beach/Panama City area. Take a quick 20 minute ride to get to the Black Bart and splash in knowing the story behind the most famous wreck dive for many years in the Florida Panhandle.

Second Life of The Black Bart

Divers can swim through the intact wheelhouse at 40 feet, investigate the deck at 66 feet, and explore the open cargo holds at 80 feet. Visitors to Black Bart can also visit the ship’s head (complete with toilet) and the galley (that’s the kitchen for you landlubbers) which still has several appliances.

Date of Sinking: July 27, 1993


Charles “Black Bart” Bartholomew:

On November 15, 1990, Capt. Charles “Black Bart” Bartholomew died in a diving accident off the coast of Panama City.  Capt. Bartholomew was the Navy Supervisor of Salvage at the time of his death and starting with his stint as commanding officer of the Naval Experimental Dive Unit, had many ties to the Panama City area.  His efforts also lead to the placing of two ex-Navy vessels on Panama City reef sites.  With his connection to Navy diving, his ties to our community and his love for diving it was a perfect match to name a local dive site in his memory.

In July of 1993, with the assistance of a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Bay County Reef Program acquired a 175-foot former oil field boat.  The hull was cleaned, brought to Panama City and renamed BLACK BART, in honor of Capt. Charles Bartholomew.  On July 16, 1993, BLACK BART officially became the closest and largest (at that time) of the Panama City artificial reefs.

For almost ten years now the BLACK BART has been one of the most popular sites with visiting divers. Sitting upright in just over 75’ of water it is an excellent dive for beginners and the large size ensures a wide diversity of sea life.  The picturesque look of an upright, intact wreck is almost a perfect dive to hook beginners for life.  With all the visiting dive shops and instructors choosing this wreck as a training location, thousands of divers visit the BLACK BART each year.

The high profile brings the top deck to just over 40’ from the surface. The wide doors of the wheelhouse along with the visible stairways almost call out to divers. (NOTE: no diver should penetrate the inside of any structure without proper training and equipment).

The engine compartments are empty and very visible at the back deck. The layout makes it easy for even a novice to take a good look and still find his/her way back to the anchor line. With over thirty years of service as a Navy diver and avid love for recreational diving, one can only imagine that Capt. Bartholomew would enjoy this site and appreciate the gesture.