The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) encourages all scuba divers choosing to dive the
Oriskany artificial reef to establish a plan for a safe and
enjoyable dive experience. We have compiled this page to help
acquaint divers with some specific issues related to the Oriskany
artificial reef and to remind divers of some basic scuba safety
protocols that should be applied for a safe dive. Due to its
depth, distance from shore, and potential currents, all divers
should gain appropriate training, equipment, fitness and experience
before diving the Oriskany. At all times divers should follow
the guidelines and safe diving practices provided during their
The Oriskany Reef was deployed on the morning of
May 17, 2006 at a depth of 212 feet, located approximately 22.5
nautical miles southeast of Pensacola Pass. This position and water
depth was selected in order to locate the vessel as close to the
inlet as possible while still maintaining the minimum 55 ft.
vertical 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 necessary
212 ft. seafloor depth. The Oriskany is located at the exact
planned coordinates, sitting upright on the seafloor in a
north-south orientation with the bow facing due south.
As in many artificial reefs, divers are reminded
that conditions change over time as the structure is influenced by
currents, scouring, and storm events. Additionally, steel
artificial reef materials such as the Oriskany Reef will gradually
experience structural changes as metal components naturally corrode
in the marine environment. Due to the changing nature of dive
conditions, we encourage all divers to speak with local dive shops
prior to planning your dive to determine the most recent dive
conditions on the Oriskany and plan the dive accordingly. For
example, as a result of currents and scouring, the vessel has
gradually settled into the sand bottom and now rests approximately
12 feet deeper than the original depth.
The depth gauge measurements on the Oriskany
recorded by FWC divers on November 19, 2010 (3.5 years after
deployment) were as follows, and as illustrated in the diagram
Flight deck = 145 feet at mid-island, increasing to
150 feet towards the bow, maybe greater
Top of forward bridge = 118 feet
Top of aft gun platform = 109 feet
Top of forward gun platform = 107 feet
Top deck level on island = 84 feet
Navigational clearance = 80 feet
Please use these depths as basic reference points
to plan your dive based on your level of scuba training,
experience, proficiency and equipment. All divers are reminded of
the likelihood of changing conditions over time and are encouraged
to speak with local dive shops to determine to most recent depths
and conditions on the vessel. Since all dives are to be done as a
buddy team, maximum depths should be planned based on the buddy
with the lowest level of training, experience, proficiency and
The FWC would like to remind scuba divers of
several basic safety issues that are consistent with all scuba
- Never dive beyond your training level. Going below a depth of
135 feet requires technical training and special equipment.
- Divers should have advance training to go beyond 100 feet
(there is plenty to see above 100 feet).
- 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
feet (normally 3 minutes).
- Always stay hydrated.
- Always us the buddy system and know your buddy's gear.
- Always have someone at the surface and never leave your boat
unattended while diving.
- Always carry a visual signal device such as an inflatable
'safety sausage' to signal your location in the event you and/or
your team become separated from your anchor line and surface away
from your boat.
- Always check the marine forecast and use safe
boating practices while traveling to and from the
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 be aware
of your starting location and the location of your descent/ascent
line. Begin the dive swimming into the current so you can
conserve energy by returning with the current in the later part of
the dive. Stay on the lee side of the island to be protected
from the current for most of the dive, particularly during the
deeper portion of your dive.
Due to the complex nature of the ship's interior
and the unknown extent of structural damages caused by the reefing
process and natural changes over time, 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
The uppermost structure of the Oriskany is located
Latitude 30 degrees 2 minutes 33.3 seconds north (Lat 30o 2.555'
Longitude 87 degrees 0 minutes 23.8 seconds west. (Lon 87o
The FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management, Artificial Reef