Panama City, FL –
BAY COUNTY, Florida (WMBB) — Eighty years ago today, World War II came to the Panhandle.
On June 29, 1942, a German submarine, also known as a U-boat, sank the HMS Empire Mica 20 miles off Cape San Blas.
The ship was en route from Texas to Britain with a cargo of fuel for the Royal Air Force.
“There was actually a lot of U.S. submarine activity in the Gulf of Mexico,” Captain Anderson’s owner Jimmy Patronis said. “When you think of the supply chains to fight the war in Europe, all of these goods and services and supplies, a lot of them were going down the Mississippi River and as they came out of the Mississippi River they went around the Keys and into in the Atlantic and to help the theater in Europe.
The Mica Empire was fairly new, having been built a year earlier. A little before 8:00 a.m. on June 29, 1942, the ship crossed paths with the German submarine 67.
“Submarine 67 was patrolling Gulf waters, saw it by chance, hit Empire Mica twice, 33 lives perished, boat burned for about three days,” Patronis said.
Captain Anderson’s is home to several Empire Mica artifacts, including the huge propeller outside the restaurant’s main entrance.
“It turns out the propeller wasn’t really the necessary technology for today’s ships,” Patronis said. “So it was basically a big piece of junk. So we saw the opportunity to buy it from Captain Reinhart and display it as a sort of tribute and memorial to those who served in the Gulf at various titles and our role that we are helping to support the effort in the European theatre.
The Empire Mica wreck is a popular site for advanced divers.
“Every time we go there and we have good conditions, you sit down later and think, ‘Wow, that was amazing. I wish I could do it more often,” said Pat Green, owner of Panama City Dive.
Green has visited the vessel several times, noting the changes made to the ship over the years as it rests under the currents of the Gulf of Mexico.
“So I’ve been diving it for about 30 years now. I’ve seen it when it was still standing and completely intact only to see a few sections crumble and now it’s completely crumbled so it’s a lot of piled up metal debris. You can still make out features like boilers, engines, spare propeller,” Green said.
Patronis said it’s important to remember Empire Mica because it’s such a big piece of Northwest Florida history.
H.M.S. Empire Mica Attack: 80 years later Source link H.M.S. Empire Mica Attack: 80 years later