The Oriskany Reef was deployed on the morning of May 17, 2006 at a depth of 212 feet, approximately 22.5 nautical miles southeast of Pensacola Pass. The exact position was selected because it had the needed water depth to allow the ship to be reefed and maintain the 55-foot navigational clearance required by US Army Corps of Engineers permit. Because the ship is wider than it is tall, and there was no guarantee that the ship would not land on her side, the ship’s 157-foot beam was used to determine the water depth. The Oriskany landed on the exact planned coordinates, and is sitting perfectly upright on the seafloor with the bow facing due south.
The depths as measured by a FWC diver's depth gauge on May 18, 2006 the day after the ship was deployed had the following readings:
Flight deck at mid-island = 135 feet
Top of forward bridge = 106 feet
Tip of aft gun platform = 97 feet
Top of forward gun platform = 95 feet
Top deck level on island = 71 feet
Highest part of structure = 68 feet
click here to see full-sized diagram
These depths are illustrated on the attached diagram of the ship above. Please use these reference points to plan your safest dive possible based on your level of scuba training and expertise. Since all dives are to be done with a buddy team, the maximum depths should be planned based on the diver with the least amount of training and experience, not the more advanced diver.
The FWC would like to remind scuba divers of several basic safety issues that are consistent with all scuba training:
- Never dive beyond your training level. Going to the deck of the Oriskany (135 ft) or beyond requires technical training.
- Divers should have advance training to go beyond 100 feet (however there is plenty to see above 100 ft).
- Divers should have advanced wreck (or cave) training to penetrate the ship in an overhead environment. No modifications have been made to the ship to accommodate penetration dives.
- Dive your deepest part of the dive first (whatever depth you plan to do), stay a very short time, the rest of the dive will be decompression and can be done safely.
- Plan your dive and dive your plan.
- Plan on a very slow accent.
- Plan on doing a longer safety stop, perhaps 5 minutes at 15 ft (normally 3 min).
- Always stay hydrated.
- Always us the buddy system and know your buddy’s gear.
Because the Oriskany is in deep water and can be affected by strong water currents, divers are strongly encouraged to use extreme caution when diving this reef. Always begin the dive into the current so you can go downstream with the current in the later part of the dive. Stay on the lee side of the island, away from the current for most of the dive, particularly the deeper part of the dive.
Due to the complex nature of the ship’s interior and the unknown extent of structural damages caused by the reefing process, the FWC recommends that divers should not enter the ship under any circumstances. Divers should not remove any items from the ship (it is against the law). All recyclable materials of value have been previously removed. There is nothing inside the ship worth dying for! Be safe.