Average Depth: 65 ft.
The Gulf America was built in 1942 by Bethlehem Sparrows Pt. Shipyard. She was owned by Gulf Oil Corporation, was 445 feet long, had a 64 foot beam, displaced 8,081 tons and was powered by a 583 nhp turbine engine. It was torpedoed by German U Boat 123 on April 10, 1942. Historic accounts state the U-boat fired only one torpedo at the Gulf America and then used gun fire to further damage the ship.
A total of 17 of her crew plus two gunners were lost in the disaster out of a total complement of 41 crew and seven Naval armed guards. All 29 survivors were picked up by Coast Guard patrol boats later that evening and brought to Mayport, Florida. According to TRACK OF THE GRAY WOLF by Gary Gentile, the Gulf America was sunk by the U-123 while under the command of Kapitan Leutant Reinhard Hardegen. Gary goes on to say that even though the Gulf America was running with her lights out, “Captain Oscar Anderson surmised that she was silhouetted against the bright shore lights,” and therefore became an easy target. This wreck is also known as the Jacksonville Beach Wreck.
The torpedo damage caused the Gulf America to sink where she lies today in about 65 feet of water several miles offshore of Jacksonville beach. Today it is still serving the seas only in a different way. Now her remains serve as productive marine habitat, aka she is a reef. The size of the coral formations and growth on the remaining structure of the Gulf America indicate a mature reef at that. In fact TISIRI divers report these are the largest coral formations they have witnessed on any north east Florida reef site yet. The S.S. Gulf America will continue to live on many more years providing productive habitat as well as an offshore destination for offshore enthusiast.
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