“The Great Carrier Reef” – On May 17, 2006 the 911′ US Aircraft Carrier was sunk approximately 26.5 miles southeast of Pensacola pass making it the world’s largest intentionally-created artificial reef. Nicknamed “The Mighty O”, 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, USS Oriskany was dedicated as a memorial reef to honor of the thousands who served on board during her 25 years of service.
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.
These are the current approximate depths of key parts of the ship. Be aware that these depths are subject to change over time and should not be relied upon without verification. A large section of the island collapsed as a result of Tropical Storm Ida in 2009 creating a very nice 50′ tall swim through in the center of the tower as pictured.
Top of Oriskany – 84′ (26m)
Primary Flight Bridge – 105′ (32m)
Navigation Bridge – 124′ (38m)
Flag Bridge – 134′ (41m)
Flight Deck – 146′ (45m)
Hanger Bay – 175′ (53m)
Bottom (sand) – 212′ (65m)
Requirements for Dive Charters
For a list of recommended charter boats please check our Dive Charters page. Please note that we do not own or operate any of the charters listed and charter policies and prices are set by the operators. There is always a Divemaster on board these vessels to serve as a guide if wanted or required. These are the recommended requirements for diving USS Oriskany.
To dive without a Divemaster guide
Advanced or Deep Diver Specialty Certification
Minimum 20 Dives
2 logged dives in the past year below 80′
To dive with a Divemaster guide
Openwater certification or above
Minimum 20 Logged Dives
2 logged dives within the past year or refresher dive
All divers are should carry a visual and audible signaling device such as a surface marker buoy and whistle. These items are provided on most dive charters at no additional cost. All divers are required to have a complete, well maintained set of equipment. Dive computers are strongly recommended and even required by some operators.