Looking for advice on wreck diving


May 1, 2007
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Hi,
I'm planning on working toward additional scuba certification so that I can finally dive shipwrecks, but I was just curious if people here had any info on the best wrecks to dive in the U.S. (keeping in mind that I am NOT an advanced diver). I'm also curious about existing regulations surrounding wreck diving (e.g., are certain wrecks off limits to divers?) Thanks!
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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S.S. Mohawk. 1928 Clyde Mallory Liner which sank after a 1935 collision. It is in about 70 feet of water, off the N.J. Coast. Was dynamited and wire dragged summer '35 and so there is very little left on site that immediately looks like a ship. BUT, because the entire liner is scattered across the bottom in fragments it is a great souvenir dive for an amateur diver. I have china, silverware, table settings, brass fixtures etc etc etc. But because she is in amateur depth and close to shore, she can get crowded on summer weekends. Best time to dive is after a series of storms, because that is when the buried items of interest tend to be unearthed.

Vizcaya. 1890 passenger liner which sank in shallow water off the New Jersey side of New York Harbor after a collision. Many wealthy Cubans traveled, and died, aboard her, and so, particularly after storms, you can find neat things.

USS San Diego. For an amateur, a nifty wreck to swim along, but not penetrate. She is upside down and huge.

Horatio Hall. Another lost small liner, from which Victoriana can be salvaged, up in Massachussetts.

Alva. The lost Vanderbilt yacht, up in Mass.

Oregon. The lost Cunard Liner. A great dive after you've gotten a bit of experience under your belt. off Fire Island, NY.

Valbanera. The liner which went down in 40 feet of water with the loss of 499 lives, in a September 1919 hurricane at Key West. The liner's interiors silted up immediately after and so she is said to be a poor artifact dive. Rather eerie as that none of the 499 victims were ever found and so chances are good that if the interiors of this ship WERE penetrable they'd be incredibly depressing.

Stolt Dagali. Cut in half on Thanksgiving 1964 by the Israeli liner Shalom, off the Jersey Coast. The aft half of the vessel sank.

>(e.g., are certain wrecks off limits to divers?)

Yes, but it varies from place to place. The dirigble Akron, fragments of which lie near the wreck of the Mohawk, is said to be off limits. US Navy and all.... Some states have laws restricting access to, and forbidding salvage from, historical wrecks. I believe that the Princess Sophia is thus protected.
 
May 1, 2007
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These look like they'd be a lot of fun to dive. (I'm definitely getting anxious to get my certification!)

I'm actually in Iowa, and there seem to be quite a few Lake Michigan wrecks that may be worth checking out. Does anyone know of any in particular worth diving? Thanks again for the info.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>These look like they'd be a lot of fun to dive.<<

Just be careful about what you're poking around in, especially if you ever have a chance to dive on the San Diego. That ship went down with a full loadout of ammunition and it won't take much to make it explode.

The Great Lakes is full of shipwrecks and most are in remarkably good condition because of being immersed in cold fresh water. You just have to be careful about which ones you go for since a lot are in very deep water. Even those in shallow water may require the use of a dry suit. You may want to make some enquiries at the local dive shops as to which ones are the best for your skill level.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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>especially if you ever have a chance to dive on the San Diego.

The San Diego is best externally explored, but not entered, if you are an amateur. Speaking off the top of my head, I think she has claimed the lives of a few people who've gotten disoriented after penetrating her. And, sooner or later, you KNOW someone is going to do something foolish that causes the entire magazine to 'go up' at once, taking the San Diego and probably the dive boat with it. There were plans afoot to seal off the potentially lethal areas but who knows if they were implemented?
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,609
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Easley South Carolina
>>The San Diego is best externally explored, but not entered, if you are an amateur.<<

Or even if you're a professional with lots of experience. Shipwrecks are best explored with caution, especially if they come with a full loadout of ammunition. The eight inch alone would account for around 500 rounds. At 200 rounds per barral, the 6" guns would account for an additional 2800 rounds. That's all going to pack a helluva punch when it goes.

>>And, sooner or later, you KNOW someone is going to do something foolish that causes the entire magazine to 'go up' at once, taking the San Diego and probably the dive boat with it.<<

Since there has been no shortage of idiots who think that shells make for cool souveniers, I'm amazed that it hasn't happened already. If the website you posted is any indication, some dimwits have already given the bomb squad some work!

>>There were plans afoot to seal off the potentially lethal areas but who knows if they were implemented?<<

I would guess that nothing has been accomplished.
 

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