Posted by: mcjangles | October 11, 2010

Virginia Beach overnight trip

Bill on the LUCKENBACH

Danny on the OCEAN VENTURE

The crew of the Independence headed south this past weekend for a break from “work” and had a great time offshore Virginia Beach aboard the Under Pressure.  We left the dock Friday night around midnight for the 50+ mile journey to the wreck of the OCEAN VENTURE (160 fsw).  After a pretty smooth ride we awoke to find ourselves hooked into the wreck.  The OCEAN VENTURE is a 425′ freighter that was torpedoed by the U-108 in Operation Drumbeat during WWII.  Danny and I were the first to splash and after breaking through the particulate laden surface waters were pleased to find good visibility (~40 feet) that continued all the way to the bottom.  The anchor line passed directly beside the “cathedral” and I was surprised to see that this large steel framework had greatly collapsed since my last trip here, with the remaining “pillars” waving precariously in the current pretty much ready to fall any time now.

The “cathedral” in 2008

In 2010 (collapsed)

We headed towards the stern and took some time to check out the lead ingots that were part of the cargo when the ship was sunk in the remains of the holds.  Followed the prop shaft all the way aft but did not find the prop.  There was an interesting little “house” off the stern.  I guess it is the remains of the gun tub / deck house because it had what looked like a gun mount on top (no gun).  There were several porthole backing plates still in place but look like they need a lot of work.  With the way these WWII wrecks are deteriorating it probably wont be long til they fall out.  Water temperature was 60 F on the bottom and 65 near the surface.  During deco we had a visit from the Thief of Baghdad…  As I realized my reel had mysteriously found its way from my hip to my butt D-ring, I looked up to spot the masked man victimizing my buddy.  Luckily I was able to catch the perp on film.


After a second dive on the OCEAN VENTURE, we pulled hook and started heading inshore.  After dinner (fresh lobster) we stopped at the JOHN MORGAN for a night dive.  This was my first time on this 423′ Liberty Ship, which sank in a collision in WWII.  She was carrying war supplies, which included vehicles, tanks, airplanes, and tons of munitions which now lie scattered over the sea floor in 110 fsw.  Visibility was maybe 15 feet and had a great dive.  At one point there was a stingray swimming over a pile of munitions which would have made an awesome picture, which is what always happens when I leave the camera on the boat.  Overall a very interesting dive with plenty to see and I’d love to get back to spend some more time exploring.

From the MORGAN we pulled hook and headed over to the LILLIAN LUCKENBACH where we anchored for the night.  After a movie (new TV on the Under Pressure is sweet) we hit the bunks for a good nights sleep before our last dive of the trip on the LUCKENBACH in the morning.  The LUCKENBACH is another WWI collision casualty and like the MORGAN is sitting in about 105 fsw.  The LUCKENBACH also took a large amount of war supplies to her watery grave when she sank.  We were tied in near the stern and truck tires and axles are practically everywhere.  Visibility wasn’t great, maybe 15 feet and it reminded me a lot of the ARUNDO off NJ.  Schools of Atlantic spadefish were sweeping across the top of the wreck and it was a great little dive to end a fabulous trip.  Sea conditions for the weekend ranged from good to awesome, and thanks to Capt JT and Bobby for their hard work making sure we had a great weekend at sea!


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