Egmont Key

Tampa Bay wreck could become new preserve

From News Service of Florida

The wreck of the Civil War-era steam tugboat USS Narcissus should be the state's newest underwater archaeological preserve, Secretary of State Kurt Browning proposed Wednesday. 

The site, in just 15 feet of water near Egmont Key in the mouth of Tampa Bay, would be the 12th such preserve in Florida waters if given final approval by the Department of State after getting public input. 

The state Bureau of Archaeological Research has determined that USS Narcissus meets necessary criteria to be made a preserve, and if so designated the site would be made more accessible and better interpreted for divers, with brochures, posters, underwater maps and a website.

The site is near one of the busiest shipping lanes in the nation, heading into Tampa Bay. 

The tugboat was lost in a storm Jan. 3, 1866, but before that was an interesting historical footnote. The vessel, which belonged to the US Navy, was present at the Battle of Mobile Bay – the battle during which Admiral David Farragut said "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." She sank while on her way to New York to be decomissioned, when her boiler exploded killing all hands.

"The USS Narcissus provides not only a fascinating underwater preserve to explore, it also offers a unique and adventurous look into our nation’s naval history," said Secretary Browning. "The site would be an exciting addition to Florida’s underwater archeological preserves."