Posted by: mcjangles | June 17, 2009

Key West Ghost Fleet

WILKES_GUN2

The last 2 days of my trip to Florida were spent on wrecks around Key West.  The first we hit was the light cruiser USS WILKES BARRE.  The WILKES BARRE is a massive ship over 600 feet in length and although sunk intentionally, was not stripped prior to sinking like most other artificial reefs.  The guns, size, artifacts, and marine life of the Keys make this a world class wreck dive.  Although still within site of land, the usually high current and depth (250 fsw) means the WILKES BARRE does not get dove as often as you would expect.

We got lucky and didn’t have too much current, but we did live drop the wreck.  The bow and stern sections are completely separated by a good sized gap and you usually hit one section or the other.  When we dove it the shot line went horizontal with the current and went directly over the bow and the hook was in the stern giving us a view of both sections.  It was tempting to drop off the line to get out of the current and just dive the bow section but I really wanted to see the big guns sitting upright on the stern.  Visibility was about 50 feet and marine life was plentiful including several large Goliath grouper looming overhead around the superstructure.  When the dive was over we fired off bags and drifted off the wreck.  Deco was just as eventful with schools of colorful Mahi circling us and feeding near the surface.

After 2 dives on the WILKES we headed over to the VANDENBERG to moor for our last night on the SPREE.  It was tempting to end the day with the spectacular dives on the WILKES but I chose to get my money’s worth and did the night dive on the VANDENBERG (pics from that dive below).

WILKES BARRE images

During the night a squall moved through and I had a bumpy nights sleep and slept in a little.  I was awoken with news that we were heading to the USS CURB in 190 fsw for the last dive.  The anchor line directed our descent past the coral encrusted forward mast.  Visbility was “only” about 40 feet and it felt a little cooler on the deck (than the other dives) at about 160 fsw.  There was a decent current running from the bow to the stern.  The CURB was a very picturesque little wreck and made a great dive to end a great trip!

USS CURB IMAGES


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