Ever heard of the "Great Carrier Reef?" The Great Carrier Carrier Reef was made by sinking an American aircraft carrier called the USS Oriskany. While, she is the largest ship ever to be sunk to be made a reef, there are also many more artificial reefs around the country. Off the coast of Georgia are artificial reefs that are being built with battle tanks, New York City subway cars, and World War II cargo ships.
Another deliberate underwater military attraction is the Underwater Military Museum Dive Site in Jordan's Gulf Of Aqaba. This new but growing museum has a number of military vehicles placed there including tanks, ambulances, anti-aircraft guns, military cranes, troop carriers, and even a helicopter.
The Essex Class USS Oriskany - The Might O
The USS Oriskany (CV-34) was nicknamed the Mighty O and was one of the few Essex class aircraft carriers that were completed after World War Two (Essex carriers were expensive, there was no one left to fight, and the Americans had so many of them one could trip over them).
- Name: Named After the Battle of Oriskany From The War of Independence
- Commissioned: In 1950
She was considerably different from those in her class (some thought of her as a different class) and was the last to be built. She was commissioned in 1950. During her service life, earned two battle stars from the wars in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Most of her time was spent operating in the Pacific.
- Largest: The USS Oriskany Is The Largest Ship To Be Sunk To Make A Reef
- Engagements: She Fought In The Korean War and the Vietnam War
- Decommissioned: In 1976
- Scuttled: In 2006
While she was decommissioned in 1976 it took a long time to actually dispose of her. She was sold for scrap in 1995 but repossessed in 1997 as nothing was being done. Eventually, in 2004 it was decided to sink her as an artificial reef off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
Of course, all her fuel and other toxic substances were removed and she was carefully sunk in 2006 and settled in an upright position. She was sunk with explosives.
Visiting And Diving The Oriskany
The wreck is immense. She measures 900 feet (280 m) long and 145 feet (40 m) wide. In that, there is plenty of room for marine life to populate.
The Oriskany has been laying on the Gulf of Mexico floor for 18 years now and is collecting marine life. Today there is a plethora of life including mola molas, tiger sharks, barracuda, whale sharks, and even manta rays. Hiding in the wreck are moray eels, crabs, and octopuses.
- Location: Of The Southern Coast of Pensacola, Florida
Recreational divers can access the deck's island structure - it is at a depth of around 70 feet or 21 meters. But the flight deck is much harder to reach, it is now at a depth of 145 feet (44 m). Unfortunately, Hurricane Gustav came through two years later in 2008 and shift the wreck 10 feet deeper.
- The Carrier's Island: Around 70 feet or 21 Meters Deep
- The Flight Deck: Around 145 Feet or 44 Meters Deep
- Hurricane Gustav: Shifted Her 10 Feet Deeper
Fortunately, there are many diver operators around offering trips to the Great Carrier Reef.
Companies Overing Dives Of The USS Oriskany
If one would like to dive without a Divemaster guide the requirements are:
- Advanced or Deep Diver Specialty Certification
- Minimum 20 Dives
- 2 logged dives in the past year below 80′
To dive with a Divemaster guide the requirements are:
- Openwater certification or above
- Minimum 20 Logged Dives
- 2 logged dives within the past year or refresher dive
It is also possible for technical divers to explore the lower tower decks, the flight deck, and the hull. Technical divers need to provide a written dive plan to the Captain.
Dive Depths Of the Wreck:
- Top of Oriskany: 84ft (26m)
- Primary Flight Bridge: 105ft (32m)
- Navigation Bridge: 124ft (38m)
- Flag Bridge: 134ft (41m)
- Flight Deck: 146ft (45m)
- Hangar Bay: 175ft (53m)
Those who wish to book their dive should contact the dive companies directly. The prices are not listed online, but Niuhi Dive Charters does have a diving schedule showing the various diving trips that they have on offer. Both Niuhi Dive Charters and MBT Divers require divers to call them to reserve a booking.
So if one has diving experience, consider adding this to one's itinerary for Florida.