A S S O C I A T I O N   OF   U N D E R W A T E R   E X P L O R E R S  

April 23, 2006

The wreck of the R.J. THOMPSON, resting in approximately 65 feet of water 26 miles off Anclote Key, has been reported by some individuals to be the remains of a USCG vessel lost in a storm.  Ignoring the obvious problems with this position, including the lack of any reported USCG losses in this area or the fact that the USCG has not had a vessel by that name (nor typically names vessels after individuals), it is obvious the wreck is nothing but a converted barge.  Judging by the construction and her former twin screw configuration, she was probably a small freighter at one point.  However, it is clear the vessel has been stripped and re-configured for use as a barge.  The tow bitt on the bow, triple rudders (with sealed shaft glands), and lack of machinery or superstructure all point towards this conclusion. 

Views looking aft and across the vacant deck of the R.J. THOMPSON

(l) Tow bitt with shackle on the bow; (r) centerline and starboard rudders on the squared-off stern.

(l) looking aft along starboard shaft alley - note the remains of the shaft at bottom center; (r) bracket along shaft alley.

(l) Bollards towards the bow; (r) the skeletal interior of the wreck.

(l) Goliath grouper on the stern; (r) mackerel and bonito smashing thru the bait fish.