We finally made it! We are in Pensacola, FL, for a weekend of wreck diving on the USS Oriskany, aka The "Mighty O". We are here for fun dives, dive buddies reunion and to visit the area in preparation for a fall trip with Sterling Silver Scuba
This adventure started a few months ago when Kevin
and I got the urge to dive the "Mighty O". Our first attempt to dive the wreck got cancelled due to very bad weather (tornados). This time, Derek
and Duncan joined us for the adventure. David and Duncan drove from Northern Kentucky, Derek from Savanah, GA, and Kevin and I flew from Washington DC. We all met at the Suburban Extended Stay hotel next door to the MBT Divers
We are booked on the H2O Below
, a Newton 36 dive boat owned and operated by Captain Doug Hammock. The plan is for two days of two-tank boat dives, rec profiles. We’re renting LP95 filled with EAN30 (MOD 140 at PO2 1.6, EAD=120). We’re planning our dives for an average of 35 mins (no-deco). We’re sharing the boat with a group from Ozark Dive, Co.
of Poplar Bluff, MO. Day 1 - (0:30 @ 140ft, 0:42 @ 115ft)
Our boat ride to the dive site was long due to bad weather. Capt Doug asked us after an hour whether we wanted to turn around - we were about halfway and it usually take 1h15 to reach the site. Everybody wanted to continue, so we went ahead and reached the dive site after a 2h30 boat ride. The storm had left the area and we had a nice sunny day. The viz is about 50-70ft and there is a mild current of about 1knt. On dive 1, we recon the island, looked around for a place to put a time capsule, touched the flight deck @137-140ft. On the descent line there were a lots of barnacles. It is important to wear gloves... On dive 2, we dropped Derek’s time capsule in the smoke stack. Derek’s father served on the Oriskany in 1957 and assembled a time capsule with old pictures for us to leave on the wreck. After droping the time capsule, we did some penetration on the bridge and adjacent corridors, going between levels via flight of stairs. On one of the penetration, we exited on the current side where all the fish were hanging out. We were swept away by the current and had to hold on the wreck... The marine life is starting to grow on the wreck; lots of sea urchins, small sea cucumbers, some large barracudas and school a amber jack. Had nice dinner at the Fish House and ice cream at Sonic! (a new fast food experience for JF...) Day 2 - (0:42 @ 121 ft, 0:40 @ 123ft)
The weather is much nicer today, we didn’t go into the storm, but watched it go away. The sea was a little rougher and we were the first boat on site. There was a little bit of rain on our way out and back, but nothing serious like the day before. The surges were 1-2 ft with a mild surface current. There was minimal current on the wreck. 2 great dives. The viz was about 70 ft. The wreck was so large that I could not even see the width of the flight deck. We did some more advanced penetrations on the island. Duncan led a long one going through several rooms exiting from a small opening created to sink the ship. After a nice boat ride back to shore, we had dinner at Carrabba’s and ice cream at Marble Slab!
It’s over, we rinsed our gear at the dive shop and trying to get them dry before packing for our return flight.. Let me tell you it doesn’t smell good in our room with 3 full set of gears hanging all over the place.
Overall, a great weekend! 4 fantastic dives, we made new friends and are bringing back lots of good memories. We’ll be back in the fall. Watch out for the announcement. Next time we’ll have the entire boat and do some deep tech dives in the hangar.
Update: some pics from the time capsule dive