Panama City Beach - Dive The Simpson

Dive The Simpson

The Simpson Shipwreck Panama City Beach

The Simpson Dive Video

The Simpson History


The Job of The Simpson


The Sinking of The Simpson


Second Life of The Simpson


Date of Sinking: PLACE DATE HERE

Place date here from Spreadsheet in G Drive OR From





Simpson’s Coordinates:

29° 58.475’ N – 085° 51.915’ W <<<—Add real coordinates here.

Early History Of The Simpson

The E. E. SIMPSON was a 93ft. tugboat built in Camden, New Jersey in 1877.  The steel hulled, single screw vessel was steam powered and rated at 54 Tons.  The was owned by the Aiken Tugboat Company of Pensacola and carried a crew of eleven.

The E.E. Simpson was named for a Pensacola lumberman who along with his brother, owned and operated a sawmill near what is now Bagdad, Florida. The Arcadia Wawmill processed timber into usable lumber using two saws and slave labor.   In 1860 the sawmill was the largest industrial firm in Florida and was destroyed intentionally to keep it out of Union hands during the Civil War. After the war Simpson rebuilt and continued as a major force in the lumber business..

The tugboat SIMPSON’s responsibilities included pushing freight barges and rescuing stranded or grounded vessels between Panama City and Pensacola.  This service was very necessary due to the lack of rail service in Northwest Florida during the late 19th and early 20th century.  The career of the SIMPSON during this time was centered around freight hauling and many times was referenced in local newspapers.  Examples of material included bricks and machinery into St. Andrews Bay and fish and oysters out.  Other articles mentioned bringing in molasses from Cuba.  

This faithful marine workhouse was called out in October of 1929 to rescue a fishing boat near what is now referred to as the “old pass”.  Of course during that time the East Pass was the only entrance into St. Andrews Bay.  The TECUMSEH was a 65 foot long, gas powered fishing boat that had been stranded, aground for two days.  Anecdotal reports indicate that the boat was owned by Bay Fisheries and because of recent financial troubles was required to pay in advance for the SIMPSON to come to her aid.  

The SIMPSON arrived and was unable to reach the stranded vessel because of shallow water.  Over 500 feet away, the captain decided to attach a long hawser and begin to work backwards to the TECUMSEH and blow out a trench in the process.  Just about the time the SIMPSON got in position winds and seas changed and waves pounding against the side of the tug created leaks that could barely be overcome.  After taking a beating for almost three hours the weather took out the smokestack and some steam lines which left the SIMPSON dead in the water. The crew abandoned ship with the lifeboat and spent the night on Shell Island.  During the night the tug broke apart and sunk near the entrance to the Pass. 

For many years the steam engine protruded above the surface..  Over time the engine settled into the sand and disappeared from view.  Today over 70 years later, a tall diver can stand on fin tips and get his/her head above the water.  The area attracted and maintained fish for years and even today large fish sometimes pass through the area.  With the opening of the East Pass in 2002 many divers and fishermen have been back for a visit.  At low tide on a clear day this is an excellent site for new divers or divers interested in seeing historic wrecks.  In 1996 the SIMPSON was one of five wrecks considered to be included in the consideration as a local archeological preserve.  The TARPON was ultimately selected.