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Old 06-27-2008, 09:31 AM
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ricki ricki is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
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I talked to Paul Menta down in the Keys last night. He had been out all day on a 9 m, lit! Strange June weather we're having. Anyway, the blow stuff didn't make quite this far north so my thoughts are still drifting to travel and diving. Bringing something up from last summer, the Wreck of the Sapona in Bimini, Bahamas.

Here's the wreck. It used to have a high stern section listing on its side. Time, corrosion, hurricanes and the odd bomb have altered that. The story behind the wreck is an interesting one. Here is what Bimini Undersea, a good local diving operation has to say about it:

During World War I, traditional ship building supplies, ie. Steel, was in short supply. Looking for alternatives, the US government commissioned the construction of 24 ships made from Concrete. They were to be built by the Liberty Ship Company. Of the 24 vessels planned only 12 were built. And, the history of the 12 is a bit in question. Especially the history of The Sapona.

Some historians have the Sapona completed in 1911, others claim she didn’t set sail until after the war ended in 1920. What everyone does agree on however is that by 1924 she was owned by famous Bahamian Rum Smuggler Bruce Bethel. Stories have it that Bethel was using the vessel as a floating warehouse just off the shores of Bimini during the US period of Prohibition.

Another point, not in dispute is that her present location just behind South Bimini on the Great Bahama Bank is the result of a hurricane back in 1926. The Sapona didn’t “sink” as much as she simply “ran aground” having been driven up into shallow water by the storm. Another hurricane in 1932 caused the stern end to snap off and keel over to the east side. This same 1932 hurricane is rumored to have put the entire island of North Bimini underwater for a short period of time during the storm.

Probably the most famous story about the Sapona has it’s roots in one of aviation’s biggest mysteries. And, the story that launched the legend of the Devil’s Triangle. The disappearance of Flight 19 on December 5th, 1945. During the early 1940’s, the Naval Air Stations located in Southern Florida would regularly use the wreck of the Sapona for bombing a strafing practice. Shooting up the hull with 50 caliber machine gun shells and dropping fake bombs. They shot so many rounds at The Sapona that to this day, following stormy weather, divers still find a few coral encrusted machine gun shells strewn on the bottom on the periphery of the wreck.

More at:

A good friend's daughter has a go with the Aqueon around and inside the wreck. She was a natural picking it up in about 15 minutes. More about this intriguing swimming device at:

I can remember diving on the Sapona decades ago. There was more to it then. Then again, I guess that is what people visiting the wreck in the 1940's used to say. At least of course before some of the more intense strafing and bombing runs.

If you're in Bimini be sure to visit the Sapona if you can. It is a fun stop.

Photos by Rick Iossi

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

Last edited by ricki; 06-27-2008 at 01:58 PM.
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