grand Duke Friedrich August von Oldenburg

The mystery of the South Jack Wreck

The South Jack wreck

By Terry Tomalin

When Michael Barnette moved to the Tampa Bay area 10 years ago, he had heard about a popular wreck dive in 65 feet of water.

"Everybody dove and fished it," he said. "But nobody knew what it was. They just called it the South Jack Wreck because of all the amberjack on it."

Over the years, Barnette, an accomplished underwater explorer from St. Petersburg, thought often about the mysterious shipwreck. "It was one of those things that just kept nagging at me," he said.

"Even after I went out and looked at it, I still had no idea what it could be."

In 1901, in the German port city of Kiel, the Grand Duke Friedrich August von Oldenburg, commissioned a steel-hulled yacht to be built that would be the envy of all who saw her.

The shipwrights used the finest hardwoods in the staterooms, and the vessel was outfitted with, what were at the time, state-of-the-art high-performance engines.