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Bob Eisenman

Diving to the USS San Diego off of Fire Island, Long Island, NY

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Posted (edited)

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/10/nyregion/uss-san-diego-warship-sunk-long-island-navy.amp.html

I've read books about this ship, made one dive to the wreck and decided that as sport diving goes this one at 110 fsw is not for me. 

I learned of the wreck in the 1980s from the girl who filled my tank with air at the local dive shop which went out of business years ago. She dove the wreck with a local diving group. If you're from the Boston area it takes a day to drive there, a day to get there and dive from a charter boat and a half day to full day to return back.

I dove 'the Diego' from the RV Wahoo in the early 1990s after taking deep and wreck diving courses with a PADI dive instructor and picked up a dive buddy on board. Reaching the inverted hull at seventy feet and looking from the stern (propellers missing from salvage group removal with bow to the north), propeller shafts hanging and bent from their own weight at the stern and looking toward the bow in the distance obscured by less than ideal visibility was memorable. Slipping (continuing the dive to 101 fsw) over the ocean side of the wreck I didn't expect to lose my breath and call the dive short but guys with asthma understand the exercise scenario that leads to hyperventilation. My dive buddy wearing two tanks wanted to show me 'a huge hull crack' but after getting my breathing under control he had to explore that wreck feature alone.

Another dive team went into the wreck through 'the garage door' on the other side of the wreck. Their objective of  retrieving cases '3 inch shells' was successful. As I was decompressing at 15 fsw from the last breaths of my 'pony bottle' (smaller extra air container) a case of shells suspended from a lift bag popped up a few feet away from the 'dive line' that secured the dive boat to the wreck.

 

USS San Diego - sunk 1918

 

 

USS San Diego - sunk 1918

 

 

USS San Diego - sunk 1918

 

 

I took scuba diving in college (early 1970s) as a sport. The instructor was a former Navy seal. If I were to be drafted I might have some say in my drafted destiny but a medical draft deferment ended that thought. We open water test dove on a Cape Ann Beach using the house of a student's parents in Rockport as a warming place.  A guy named 'Pop' showed up in a van with dive gear for rent. We needed to buy a mask for the course for ourselves. The water was cold and the visibility near zero, following a storm in the late winter or spring. We all became NAUI certified that day.
Diving when you are out of shape or prone to struggling in the water because you have not swum a lot of laps is dangerous. The gear is heavy and the extra exertion takes its toll on the out of shape diver. The heart and lungs need to be strong and the divers attitude in the case of emergency needs to stay as calm as can be expected.
A recent diving death on the Chester Poling wreck, site of my wreck diving course with a PADI dive instructor, highlights the dangers associated with sport diving.
http://www.eagletribune.com/news/north_of_boston/poling-wreck-claims-diver/article_9928e37b-c32f-57fd-89e5-28e071a34af4.html

These days I'm overweight, out of shape and haven't been swimming or diving since my USS San Diego dive plus one more shallow 'dive into a lake' in Maine.
 

 

Edited by Bob Eisenman

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Looks like a great wreck. I've not dived US waters despite living here for 10 years. Most of my wreck diving was in the Red Sea off of the Sinai peninsular. The best wreck I have ever dived is the S.S. Thistlegorm. 6 dives over 3 different trips. Similar depths (props at 36m). My brother was my dive buddy so we had complete confidence in one another in the event of an emergency so were not worried to reel off and go deep within the hull and cargo areas.

You story sounds great only soured by the though of dive buddies splitting up, the need to use your pony bottle on your decompression stop, and the taking of wreckage items from a war wreck on which crew members died.

I hope I get to dive again one day. I miss it terribly. I was PADI certified to Advanced Open Water with deep dive, wreck dive, and Nitrox specialities. I could do an hour on a single 12L tank with dive depths starting at 36m. Not so sure I could sip a tank like that now. Deepest dive was 55m. Nitrogen narcosis crept in quickly and we ascended a little to continue to the dive.

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2 hours ago, WARPed1701D said:

Nitrox specialities. 

A specialty diver! Doubles, nitrox and pony bottles were standard gear for the most dedicated on that wreck. I logged about 70 dives in this area around 1990-91.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B07we0osMR1zUUF6eG9GdTl0OFk

They say never sip a tank (blood stream levels...with high pCO2, low pO2, hypoxia...so breath freely!)


The dive shop owner was a UMASS graduate from about the same year as me (1975). On a fall Monster EUC ride to Cape Ann Dave Stillman (owner) told me 'it's time', meaning to close business.

Cape Ann Divers

 

 

 

Cape Ann Divers


I dove once with Cape Ann Divers in Dec (12-15-91) in a wet suit. Dry suits get expensive and 'they all leak a little' I'm told.

@WARPed1701D this dive buddy, who taught me were to look for and how to catch lobsters, told me he dove the Red Sea on a vacation .

Cape Ann dive pictures.

 

Edited by Bob Eisenman

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5 hours ago, WARPed1701D said:

Looks like a great wreck

I 'prepped' for the dive (getting to know the boat) by going on the 'Wahoo' as a bubble watcher on a trip to the wreck of the 'Oregon'. On board were 'Hank Garvin' and 'Sally Wahrmann'

http://wahoo2001.com/crewvita.htm

Sally W. brought up a bronze port hole cover on her dive. Hank G. got teasingly angry because he'd been watching the corrosion rate holding 'that' port hole cover , waiting for the right dive to rip it off the wreck. He chased her around the deck a bit after she surfaced with it. Sally W. said she planned to mount the polished bronze artifact on her office door.

I read today that Hank G. later bought the Wahoo and renamed it RV Garloo (his nickname?). Hank G. has a recent obituary so the 70ish year old man passed away.

https://m.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10153345117427458&id=45243532457

 

Edited by Bob Eisenman

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10 hours ago, WARPed1701D said:

hope I get to dive again one day. I miss it terribly.

400 miles from St. Petersburg is a bit of a journey but Hall's in Marathon (FL Keys) has both career diving instruction and guest boat dive tours.

https://m.facebook.com/hallsdivingcenter/?ref=content_filter

I'm sure everyone has their place to go directly diving in Florida. The water is warm, the staff friendly, the coral reef not far away and the dives not too deep. I saw my first brain coral there and enjoyed schools of colorful fish as well.

 

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Compelling story of the USS San Diego. Haven't been able to dive in US waters, but this wreck is definitely on my to do list when I am in the area and I have enough time. 

Fortunatly we have an abundance of wrecks here in the North Sea so can't really complain.

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