Wreck Dives of the USVI | Sport Diver

Wreck Dives of the USVI


Geri Murphy

In addition to a fine selection of coral reefs, vertical walls and submerged pinnacles, the USVI offers one of the Caribbean's finest collections of wreck dives. Here is a list of popular wreck sites taken from the journals of local USVI dive operators.

**Home to a wide selection of coral reefs and pinnacles dives, St. Thomas also has the largest concentration of wreck dives. Special thanks to Blue Island Divers and Admiralty Dive Center for providing details on the St. Thomas wrecks listed below.

For photos & more information on the WIT Shoal II, WIT Concrete, WIT Service, Kennedy Barge, _Miss Opportunity, Navy Barges,_ and Mist, click on: www.blueislanddivers.com.

For information and photos of the Chrysler and Cartanser Senior, click on: www.admiraltydive.com.

WIT Shoal II -The M/V WIT Shoal II was originally built in 1943 by Kaiser Co. Inc. in Vancouver, Washington then rebuilt in 1952 by Davie Shipbuilding & Repairing Co. Ltd. of Lauzon Quebec. She is 327ft long and was equipped with two General Motors Diesel engines. She could make 10 knots and consumed 7 tons of diesel oil per day When she sank, she was well past her prime, many versions of what was going to happen to her abound. She was going to be sunk in very deep water south of the Virgin Islands; she was going to Puerto Rico to be scrapped. Either way, her hull was roughly patched to survive the trip and she was towed out of Charlotte Amalie.One of the patches broke free a couple of miles into the trip, so the towline was cut, and she sank gracefully to sit upright and intact 85 feet of water, on sand. There are five levels of deck to explore, from the pilothouse down to the bottom of the hold, with many routes in and out making it easy and safe. The dive sometimes has strong current off approx. 2 knots, so we dive the wreck at slack water. There is an abundance of life on this wreck, with southern and spotted eagle rays, Baz the resident barracuda, horse-eye jacks and turtles.

WIT Concrete -The M_/V WIT Concrete_ was built in 1943 by the National Ship Company in Oakland, California. She is a 350ft long bulk carrier that was used for towing in the pacific, primarily for gasoline. The vessel was initially sunk during hurricane Marilyn in 1995, and was again raised by the Army Corps. of Engineers and sunk two miles south of Porpoise Rocks, South St Thomas. The wreck today lies intact and upright at a depth of 92 feet, with easy access and swim thru's in most compartments. Many of the internal fixtures and fittings such as cage-lights, switches and valves remain for viewing, frozen in time. Externally, on the main deck remains the auxiliary steering wheel, as pictured above. The wreck has attracted a great deal of marine life. It is common to encounter large schools of horse-eye jacks, bar jacks and others. At the bow of the ship there is a large winch type device that has become the home to a cornucopia of reef fish. There is a rarely seen, but resident jew fish on this wreck. Lobster have made their home in the crannies and crevices. Southern stingays lie on the top deck while taking a rest. Nurse sharks, barracuda and sea turtles frequent this site. As you ascend from the sand up to the bow you'll see the wreck has been encrusted in beautiful colored sponges and hard corals. Usually you find several pairs of large French Angelfish swimming among the Gorgonians.

Cartanzar Senior-A derelict freighter that was moved from Charlotte Amalie harbor and set near Buck Island Cove, was broken into three parts by hurricane Hugo and rolled into 45 feet of blue water. Now a home to countless tropical fish, eels, rays and occasional sharks, it's a great dive for the novice to experienced diver.

WIT Service IV -The WIT Service IV hit Dry Rocks, south-west of Saba Island on 1st of April 1979 whilst towing a barge. Being a riveted plate hull, the impact caused some rivets to break, and she began taking on water. The barge was cut free, but the WIT Service sank shortly afterwards. The barge remained adrift but was again taken under tow by another tug and made it safely to harbor. The bows now point to 150 degrees compass, and she is on a 30 degrees list to the port side at a depth of 100 feet.. The smoke stack now lies on the seabed, but is otherwise intact The engine rooms are readily accessible, where the engine's gauges stand eerily displaying her final settings. Inside there are also 6 caged lights still in place with their glass. The 5 ft rudder quadrant and huge propeller and rudder remain proudly displayed for all to see.

Chrysler - Corporate yacht Chrysler fell victim to a squall and ended up on the rocks in the late 60s. Time and hurricanes have reaped their toll and have scattered the remains among the colorful reef, with swim throughs, a large population of tropical fish, lobsters, occasional sharks and turtles, making this 50-foot dive a beautiful and exciting dive.

Miss Opportunity -The Miss Opportunity is a ship that was intentionally sunk. It lies on its starboard side in about 90 feet. The hull of the ship rises to about 40 feet below the surface, and is situated close to the airport extension on the south-west of St Thomas. This is a big ship, over 300', that is intact. The story has it that at one time it was a Navy hospital ship and then was used as a job placement center in downtown Charlotte Amalie prior to being sunk in 1985. She lies listing on her starboard side, which makes penetration through the decks mysterious. There are many open swim thru's especially at the stern, which is broken and open, revealing the many decks of the ship. A huge resident Jewfish has been seen patrolling the aft section of the ship and then immediately retreating to the inner sanctum of the ship upon the approach of divers. The wreck provides plenty of easy and safe accesses to explore the interior of the vessel. This site provides for a good multi-level dive in that you can start at the "top" decks of the ship, which are now the deepest, and work your way to the lower levels which are shallower. Barracuda, southern stingrays and schools of horse-eye jacks frequent the area along with the occasional sea turtle and nurse shark. Many corals and sponges are now taking up residence on the hull of the Miss Opportunity which makes for a very enjoyable dive. Due to it's relatively sheltered location, there is not tidal current, allowing you to dive here at any time.

Kennedy Barge -The Kennedy Barge is a landing craft barge that had been fitted with a concrete platform. It sunk in about 1986. At the time, it was being used as a passenger offloading and onloading platform for the aircraft carrier

USS John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy was moored off of St. Thomas and one night the barge sank. As it sank it flipped over and the concrete deck separated from the barge. The barge now lies in 65 feet of water and the concrete pad lies in front of it at a 90 degree angle. The story goes that the US Navy brought in salvage divers to raise the barge right after it sank but were unsuccessful. It is almost guaranteed that you will see large southern stingrays laying on top of the barge and in the sand surrounding it. Large spotted and green moray eels have been seen at this wreck. Sometimes a very friendly Sea turtle visits the ship and often inquisitively approach divers. In the area of the concrete pad it is not uncommon to see large collections of conch shells. These are the remains of a large octopus meal. Also in this area you will find some giant sea anemone. Beautiful! If you hover close to the sand in front of the concrete pad and look off into the distance you will be amazed to see a very large area filled with garden eels. These eels live burrowed in the sand, tail first and come out and hang vertically right above their burrows. At the rear starboard side of the barge you will find yellow headed jawfish, sailfin blennys and blue gobys all congregated in one small area. It is interesting to lie motionless and watch all three of these burrowing fish dart in and out of their holes.

Navy Barges -With ribs reaching upward like the very skeleton of an extinct dinosaur ''The Navy Barges'' provide a home for an array of tropical fish and colorful coral. The 45-foot depth allows plenty of bottom time for your voyage into the past.

Mist -The Mist is a converted freighter that had all her decking removed and replaced with a flat platform for cargo. She was known to have gone down in the mid 1980s. When she sank, she was carrying sand and gravel, and the seas made her roll over, sinking her quickly, almost at the expense of the tug! Deep chines remain at the stern, and the decking is breaking up, revealing all her previous life's workings, making and interesting look inside the wreck. Lying upright and otherwise intact, her bows point 90 degrees compass. Our first dive on this barge saw a 6 foot southern sting ray, a hawksbill turtle and a 5ft baraccuda all off the stern.

Known best for its vertical wall dives at Cane Bay and Salt River, St. Croix has its share of wreck dives. Special thanks to Dive Experience for providing information about St. Croix wrecks.

For more information about Chez Barge and Dump Truck, click on: www.divexp.com.

Chez Barge- A sunken sand barge used by Dive Experience for their famous fish feed. The site attracts a great variety of fish including parrots; yellowtail snapper black durgon, Nassau grouper and even Jew fish. There are also moray ells in residence. In fact, there at least seven are named residents and they are always there. These include Earl the eel, Wanda the French Angel, Bruce the Queen Trigger fish, Sparkly the spotted moray eel, Grover a Nassau Grouper, Renegade a ''fast'' green moray and Barbara the Barracuda (named after Barbara Walters) ! There are also the remains of a crane sticking out of one side of the site. Also a great dive site for night dives, where you can see plenty of lobsters and crabs.

Dump Truck -At 130 feet on a ledge is a 1930s dump truck that is lying on its side. We believe that the trash was taken out to sea back then and the truck accidentally fell off the barge. Full of black coral and sponge life. Usually a big turtle or eel hanging out there. Great for photos.

For more information about diving the wrecks, reefs, walls & pinnacles of the USVI, contact the dive operators below:

Admiralty Dive Center Tel: 1-888-900-3483 toll freeWeb: www.admiraltydive.com
Blue Island Divers Tel: 340-774-2001Web: www.blueislanddivers.com
Dive World Tel: 340-690-4385E-mail: diveworld@islands.vi
St. Thomas Diving ClubTel: 877-538-3734 toll freeWeb: www.st.thomasdivingclub.com
Water World Outfitters Underwater SafarisTel: 340-774-3737www.diveusvi.com

ST. CROIX: Anchor Dive CenterTel: 1-800-532-3483 toll free Web: www.anchordivestcroix.com
Dive Experience! Tel: 1-800-235-9047 toll freeWeb: www.divexp.com
Cane Bay Dive ShopTel: 1-800-338-3843 toll free Web: www.canebayscuba.com
St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater AdventuresTel: 1-877-567-1367 toll freeWeb: www.stcroixscuba.com


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