If you’re anything like me, you’re not a fan of artificial. You want the real deal… every time. And especially when it comes to wreck dives. Part of the fun of wreck diving is in the story. Every real wreck has a story, and although you usually know it before exploring, you still uncover bits and pieces as you make your way through the dive. It’s part of the experience.
But even after having said all that, there are a few artificial wrecks that are worth exploring. After all, these are still authentic sunken ships… just minus all the tragedy. As artificial as they are, they are also a little less macabre – for what that’s worth.
USS Oriskany – Pensacola, Florida
Of course this is number one on the list. It is one of the largest artificial wreck dives in the world. You’ll find the USS Oriskany off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, teeming with tropical fish, dolphins, sharks and other interesting residents. The USS Oriskany does have a history, though it doesn’t involve an accidental submersion. This ship endured both the Korean and Vietnam wars and collected 12 battle stars in the process. It is quite an honor to be in the presence of this artificially sunken treasure.
James Bond Wrecks – Nassau, Bahamas
If you’re going to go artificial, why not keep it as Hollywood as possible. Did you know that you can explore the wrecks involved in the James Bond Movies, Never Say Die and Thunderball? It’s akin to visiting the set of your favorite movie in Los Angeles – except you have to don scuba gear to catch a glimpse of these relics. You can actually explore the interior of the wreck called Tears of Allah, but will have to admire the older Vulcan Bomber from more of a distance. Still, after having been submerged for more than 30 years, this wreck comes alive with coral sponges, seafans and fish. You’ll find both wrecks off the coast of the Bahamas.
HMCS Yukon – Mission Beach, California
Want to bask in some culture during your next dive? Visit the HMCS Yukon and take a look at the world’s first underwater art gallery. This Canadian Mackenzie Class destroyer was sunk just 15 years ago off the cost of Mission Beach, California. It is a great dive for those who are new to wreck diving, and it also contains some more challenging areas in its 366-foot long physique.