On May 17, 2006 the 911′ US Aircraft Carrier was sunk approximately 22.5 miles southeast of Pensacola pass making it the world’s largest intentionally-created artificial reef. Nicknamed “The Mighty O” and “The Great Carrier Reef” USS Oriskany is truly a world class dive. The massive carrier lays in 212′ of water with the top of the “island” sitting at around 84′. The wreck is a habitat for all kinds of marine life from small tropical fish such as blennies, damselfish and angelfish to large game fish such as snapper, grouper and massive amberjack. Pelagic fish species can sometimes be spotted racing by and even whale sharks and manta rays have been spotted cruising around the tower of the carrier.
Oriskany (CVA-34) was originally commissioned on September 25, 1950 and recommissioned on March 7, 1959 after several updates and modifications. She served 25 years before being decommissioned on September 30, 1975. She earned two battle stars for service in the Korean War and five battle stars for service in the Vietnam War. With such a rich naval history, Oriskanywas dedicated as a memorial reef to honor of the thousands who served on board during her 25 years of service. The USS Oriskany is part of the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail.
Diving the USS Oriskany
Oriskany is a deep and sometimes challenging dive due to the potential for strong currents at the site. It is an awe inspiring dive, but is not worth possibly hurting yourself to see. Please be honest with yourself and the dive staff regarding your comfort and experience level. This dive requires advanced levels of training, extensive experience and detailed preparations to minimize the potential for risk and is not suited for beginners. You may want to obtain your advanced open water certification before diving it.
Getting to the USS Oriskany
The wreck is a off-shore dive and is located about 24 miles from Pensacola Pass in about 212’ of water. You can use the GPS Location of 30 02.550′ N and 87 00.383′ W to navigate towards the wreck. This is a pretty popular dive with the charter boats and can become busy at times.
Marine life seen around the USS Oriskany
When diving the wreck you will see a lot of different marine life, some of them are
There are many other types of marine life that are around the wreck, if you want to identify the species you can look at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Saltwater identification page.