USS Oriskany reef project

I've just been writing up a short item about the fascinating project to sink an old aircraft carrier - USS Oriskany - 22 miles off the coast of Florida to be an artificial reef and diving attraction.

The hope is that it'll attract loads of marine life, divers and sports fishermen and put Pensacola on the map as a dive destination, generating lots of jobs and tourist dollars.

Looking at various photos (DiveMiami, Association of Underwater Explorers & OES Project) I realise just how huge she is going to be underwater, but also what a 'technical' dive challenge she'll be.

It's very hard to find any dimensions but my guesstimate is that she'll sit about 52 metres above the sea bottom (8m draught + 25m waterline to flightdeck + 19m to top of island (no mast)). She is planned to sink in 64 metres of water.

So that means ordinary PADI open water divers could visit the island (and stay inside the PADI 18-metre recommended safe depth). PADI Advanced divers could get down to the flightdeck at 31 metres. Only serious nitrox-breathing wreck divers could contemplate entering any part of the hull including the hangers.

I think they are right. She could be a real boost to tourism on the Florida panhandle.


Captain said…
She will sit in 212ft of water in the sand 22 miles SouthSouthEast of Pensacola, Florida. The floor of the hangar deck will be at 150ft, the flight deck at 130ft and the top of the island at 70ft. The island has been prepared for diving (extra cleaning), below the flight deck ha snot been. This should make her a safe and good dive for recreational divers. Checkout more and updated info.
onliner said…
Thanks Capt. I was having to guess a lot at depths when I wrote that.

You must be getting real excited now. Not much longer to wait!

I really hope the sinking all goes to plan, that you get to have some fun diving her, and that she generates the interest and enthusiasm among divers in the US and worldwide that everyone connected with the project is hoping for.

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