Combining history with modern technology, wreck diving offer divers the opportunity to explore the past in settings that are equally eerie and awe-inspiring. While most wrecks offer much to see from the outside, penetration often beckons to divers, enticing them to explore passages that few have seen since the vessel sunk. Penetration should only be done by experienced and wreck certified divers with appropriate planning, back-up and equipment. Here we have put together a list of wrecks in the United States ready for you to explore.
Where: Oahu, Hawaii.
Highlights: The YO-257 is the largest and most colourful wreck in Hawaii. The old naval oiler is 54m long and was scuttled in 1989 as a wreck to be seen on submarine tours after serving in WWII, the Karean War and the Vietnam War. The wreck quickly became popular with divers. There is a complete swim-through at the stern of the boat with chances to see sea turtles, eagle rays and trumpet fish.
Dive conditions: The Maximum depth is 110 ft (34m) while the top deck is around 85 ft (26m) deep. Water temperature ranges between 73°F (22°C) in January to 82°F (27°C) in July.
USS Spiegel Grove
Where: Key Largo, Florida.
Highlights: The Spiegel Grove is a 510 ft (155m) long loading ship dock. You can see star corals and fans with limited penetration for qualified divers. Only trained and experienced (technical) divers can enter the inner passageways (these areas have seen diver deaths before). You can see the galley’s ovens, sinks and stoves, the mess hall, engine rooms, pump rooms, living quarters and brig.
Dive conditions: The top deck is about 60ft (18m) while the maximum depth is around 144ft (44m). Water temperatures range between 73°F (23°C) in February to 86°F (30°C) in August.
Where: Morehead City, North Carolina.
Highlights: A German U-boat, sunk during WWII in the area known as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’. The U-352 sunk in 1942 and discovered in 1976. Divers can see a conning tower, torpedo hatches and sand tiger sharks hanging around the wreck. The wreck lays at a 45-degree angle with lots to see, although the outer hull has disintegrated.
Dive conditions: The maximum depth is about 115ft (35m) while the minimum depth is around 90ft (27m). Water temperature ranges from 55°F (13°C) in February to 84°F (29°C) in August.
Where: Pompano Beach, Florida.
Highlights: Formerly a New York City tanker, this vessel has been converted into an artificial reef. There are various sculptures on the main deck, including sharks playing poker, an octopus playing craps, a mermaid cocktail waitress, huge dice and original art from Dennis MacDonald.
Dive conditions: The minimum depth is around 80ft (24m) while the maximum depth is around 134ft (40m). Most of the things to see is around 100ft (30m) though. Average water temperatures for Pompano Beach ranges between 75°F (24°C) in January to March to 84°F (29°C) in July to September.
Where: San Diego, California.
Highlights: The HMCS Yokon is a 366ft (108m) long Canadian warship. Resting on its port side, the vessel has had holes cut into the side and some of its bulkheads removed to accommodate divers more easily. Having said that, because the wreck lays on its side, divers could become disoriented easier, and proper training and equipment use is a must. There is a compartment on Deck 5 Called Keeline Cove that has been painted over by artist Mike Keeline. Most of the interior is penetrable with only the boiler room being off limits and considered unsafe for penetration.
Dive conditions: Minimum depth is 60ft (18m) and maximum depth is 100ft (30m). Water temperatures range from 57°F (14°C) in February to 68 °F (20°C) in August.
Mary Alice B.
Where: Lake Huron.
Highlights: The Mary Alice B was built in 1931 and sits upright with a wheelhouse and interior that is intact. Visibility inside the wreck can get bad, especially on choppy days and penetration is only advised for experienced, properly trained divers with the appropriate equipment.
Dive conditions: The wreck sits in around 90-96 ft (27-29m) of water, making her an advanced dive. Water temperature ranges between 34°F (1°C) in February/March and 70°F (21°C) in August.
Where: San Diego, California.
Highlights: The 314 ft (96m) destroyer was sunk in 1945 for torpedo practice. There is abundant coral growth and fish life on the wreck. Visibility on the wreck can change quickly and the dive is often done as a drift dive- making it a site for more experienced divers.
Dive conditions: The wreck lays between 100-125ft (30-38m) in water temperature that ranges between 57°F (14°C) in February and 68 °F (20°C) in August.
Where: St Lawrence River, New York.
Highlights: Built in 1909 and sunk in 1912, this 256 ft (80m) steel freighter is manly still intact. Divers can see the engine room, a corridor along the port side and the propeller. This wreck is shallow enough for divers of all levers but the correct training, experience and equipment is required for penetration.
Dive conditions: The vessel lays between 25 and 110 ft (7 and 34m) in water that ranges between 34°F (3°C) in March to 71°F (23°C) in August.
Where: Lake Michigan, Milwaukee.
Highlights: The SS Milwaukee was a train ferry that is now a dive-able wreck for more experienced divers. The boiler room, crew’s quarters and deck with stored train cars can be explored by divers with the correct training and experience.
Dive conditions: The SS Milwaukee lays between 90 and 128ft (27-39m) deep in water where temperatures range between 32 and 68°F (0-20°C). Temperatures at depth consistently stays between 38-40°F (3-4°C).
Where: Beaufort, North Carolina
Highlights: The wreck is frequently visited by snuggle-toothed sand tiger sharks, often in schools and even inside the wreck. The mix of warm and cold currents around the wreck attracts other shark species, including great whites on occasion. Mantas, whale sharks and even sunfish could be seen around the wreck.
Dive conditions: The USCGC Spar lays between 85 and 110 ft (25-34m) in water with a temperature range of between 58°F (13°C) in February and 84°F (29°C) in August.
Wreck diving offer a unique opportunity to witness first-hand what life could have been like in the past. More so when the vessels and their contents have been (relatively) preserved and undisturbed while submerged for many years. Wreck diving should be approached with caution, thorough preparation and the correct training, experience and equipment.