SS Regina

Regina was built in 1904 in Belfast, Ireland and was a steel steamer for the Cuban Molasses Transportation Co. based in Havana. She measured 247 ft. in length, with a 36 ft. beam and a 14 ft. draft, with a single deck and a single propeller powered by a triple-expansion steam engine. The steamer also was rigged as a schooner for auxiliary power, and fitted with electric lighting.

After being converted to a tanker barge, Regina left Havana on 5th March 1940, under tow by the tugboat Minima, bound for New Orleans with a cargo of more than 300,000 gallons of molasses. A few days later a cold front swept across the Gulf of Mexico from the northwest, bringing 8 to 12-foot seas, gale force winds, and freezing temperatures. The tugboat changed course to seek shelter in Tampa Bay, but her tow lines parted near Egmont Key and Regina drifted helplessly toward Anna Maria Island.

On Friday 8th March, the converted tanker grounded in heavy seas on a sand bar off Bradenton Beach, to be pounded by the surf and wind. The vessel began to crack and break apart but Regina’s crew of eight stayed aboard the stranded tanker too afraid to abandon ship in such conditions.. The following morning, a small bi-wing seaplane arrived from the St. Petersburg Coast Guard Station to drop lifejackets and supplies, but they were washed ashore by the waves and wind. One of the crewmen, Seferino Canneciras, attempted to swim ashore but disappeared in heavy surf about 100 yards from land. Later that morning the Captain and remaining crewmen swam ashore. Regina lost all of her cargo - with the molasses draining into the gulf. Today she is a sunken hulk, partially buried under sand. Locally known as the “Sugar Barge”, this is a popular wreck is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers, it is close to the beach and has vibrant tropical fish.