Posted by: mcjangles | October 8, 2007

Weekend in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach, VA – Oct 6-7 2007

Bedford and I left Friday afternoon to head down to Virginia Beach with the plan to check out a new wreck in 250fsw that Capt. JT had checked out with some fisherman earlier in the spring. We were quite excited to have the opportunity to dive a virgin wreck and the oppressive traffic on 95 did nothing but add to the anticipation of the trip. After everything was loaded and set up we left the dock on the Under Pressure around midnight for the ~6 hour trip out to the wreck site. I managed to catch a few z’s on the way out and woke up around sunrise just as we were pulling up on the target. JT had some concern that the “new” wreck might actually be the UB-148 which was part of the Billy Mitchell fleet sunk in aerial bombing tests in the summer of 1921. He had another set of numbers believed to be the UB-148 so we motored over to check it out to confirm if the new set of numbers was in fact a new wreck. The numbers he had for the UB-148 turned up nothing so it became apparent that we might end up diving the sub instead of a new wreck. We headed back to the mark and JT snagged it pretty quickly. The plan was for the tie in team to check what we were on, then let Bill and I know on our way down whether or not to pull the hook if we were on the sub so we could head somewhere else.

UC-97, UB-148, and UB-88

The seas had laid down a bit, but there were some good sized swells rolling through as we geared up in overcast conditions. We splashed and met up with Mark and Andrew who were already hanging and giving us the “cut it” signal meaning we were in fact on the UB-148. Heading down the line, the water made a sharp transition from blue 75oF water to cooler darker water at about 80 feet as we passed through the thermocline. Approaching the wreck there was an unidentified structure sticking up 20 feet or so off the wreck that resembled a mast but it quickly became obvious that this was definitely a submarine. The top of the curved hull was ~230fsw and the bottom at about 255 fsw (I only dropped to 245 and there was at least 10 feet to the sand). The visibility was a dark 30-40 feet and the temperature 48oF. I’m not sure where we were on the wreck but I followed the hull for a few minutes before following the top of the hull back towards the tie in. I noted several hatches still sealed tight and covered with long pink “grass” that was some kind of growth. In this grass and all over the wreck were chain dogfish sharks that you only see on these deeper wrecks. We cut our dive kind of short since we were going to be moving to another wreck for the afternoon dive and after pulling the hook out of a net/rope we began our ascent.

For the second dive we decided to dive the other new wreck that Capt JT first dive last year and dove again a few weeks ago thought to be the O.B Jennings torpedoed in WWI (Incidentally the Jennings was sunk by the U-140 which was also sunk with the Billy Mitchell fleet and now rests nearby). With reports of an intact tanker sitting upright on the bottom in 280fsw it didn’t take much arm twisting to convince us to check it out. We only had gas for 250’ but we were promised the wreck came as high as 235fsw. I had a nice afternoon nap as we motored over, and awoke as JT was getting back on board after attempting to tie in. Unfortunately the hook had fallen into one of the forward holds and he was unable to get it out as he didn’t have the gas to go to the ~300’ where the hook was. He promised we could see the high part from the line as the conditions were unbelievable with ~100’ of visibility. Mark and Andrew splashed first and were nice enough to pull the hook up to the starboard (high) side of the wreck at 250fsw for us. Heading down the line we were greeted by an unbelievable sight. At about 200’ I could see Mark and Andrew’s lights a good ways in the distance approaching us (they had scootered the whole wreck) and at 210’ the wreck came into view. The image of that huge ship listing to its port side and stretching into the distance as far as I could see will be burned into my mind for some time. The house on the bow was easily identifiable and there were service large holds heading aft. After admiring the view for a minute or two we touched down on the starboard railing at 250’. We headed forward and explored around the bow superstructure and counted several intact portholes. There was also a fire hose lying on the deck just aft of the house. The side door of the house looked inviting but it meant going deeper, and I had to reluctantly keep reminding myself that 250 was my limit on this dive. I took a couple minutes to inspect the hull on the bow looking for a name but didn’t see anything. Heading aft again, we following the starboard rail past the first hold and turned back as we got to the second hold. I spent some more time poking around the bow and noted some machinery on the deck. Time went by way too fast and we headed up at the 25 minute mark after pulling the hook. Deco was uneventful until the 20 foot stop. I was just relaxing on my long hang when I saw something coming up out of the deep blue. Before I knew it a pod of about 8 or so dolphins came buzzing right by me to add a little excitement. The icing on the cake was popping my head above the surface just in time to catch the sun dipping below the horizon and a beautiful sunset. This wreck really is in pristine condition and has only been dove a couple times, and probably one of the best wrecks I have ever dove. Definitely time for a rebreather!

Capt. Jay hooked up

Got it on board just as the other guys were finishing decompressing

90 pound tuna

Overnight Capt JT headed a bit inshore and hooked us into the wreck of the Ocean Venture which we dove in the morning. This freighter was torpedoed in WWII and is now in 160fsw. The visibility on the bottom was excellent and in the 50-60’ range. The first thing I saw when I got to the bottom was dog of a porthole sticking out of the sand. Not a bad start. A little digging revealed a pretty mangled porthole and without any tools I moved on. I had a nice relaxing dive poking around the busted up wreckage. I managed to find the “cathedral” that Capt JT had described to us. This huge box like structure rises probably at least 30 feet off the bottom and light comes through the top and sides giving it a cathedral like feeling and was indeed very cool.

After what felt like a quick hang we were on our way back to port. The seas had only improved as the weekend progressed and it was a relaxing trip home. You can’t ask for more when you can get in 3 great offshore dives in October.

Ocean Venture

CHECK OUT

Gary Gentile’s Shipwrecks of Virginia

Capt JT’s website

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Responses

  1. Hey Bro:

    Great report on the new wreck and the Ocean Venture.

    BTW, a few weeks ago I had a deco bottle and reg come unclipped on the Venture and lost it on the wreck. I’m offering a $100 reward for it if anyone found it…

    I’m Drewski on TDS.. THANKS…

  2. Sweet write-up. What were you diving? You made a comment about “time for a rebreather”. Were you diving open circut at this depth?

    ps….can I link your blog on njdive.com?


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