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18 years ago, the United States Navy sank its aircraft carrier USS Oriskany in Florida to create an artificial reef

Written by Rafaela Fabris
Published 27/05/2024 às 15:09
18 years ago, the United States Navy sank its aircraft carrier USS Oriskany in Florida to create an artificial reef
Photo: David Sandgren/Disclosure

In a landmark event, the United States Navy sank its legendary aircraft carrier USS Oriskany off the coast of Florida, turning it into an artificial reef. This initiative, carried out 18 years ago, aimed not only at marine preservation, but also at creating a diving spot unique and historic.

Launched after World War II, the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany was named in honor of the American Revolutionary War's Battle of Oriskany. Known as “The Mighty Oriskany”, the ship played vital roles in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, accumulating several battle stars. However, its trajectory was marked by several incidents, leading to the decision to transform it into a reef.

In 2004, the United States Navy decided to repurpose the ship by transforming it into an artificial reef.

The USS Oriskany, which served with distinction in the United States Navy, faced numerous challenges throughout its career. One of the most serious incidents occurred on March 6, 1953, when a 113-pound bomb detached from an aircraft during an emergency landing, causing an explosion that killed two sailors and injured 14 others. Another devastating fire, on March 26, October 1966, resulted in the deaths of 44 soldiers and injured 156, due to human error with parachute flares.

Despite such adversities, the Oriskany continued operating until it was decommissioned in 1976. Attempts to reuse the ship were blocked by Congress due to its precarious condition. In 2004, the United States Navy decided to repurpose the ship by transforming it into an artificial reef. The environmental preparation process involved the removal of toxic materials, including asbestos, before controlled sinking on May 17, 2006.

Transformation of the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany into an artificial reef raises the question of whether sinking a ship at sea is really the best option

Transformation of the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany into an artificial reef raises the question of whether sinking a ship at sea is really the best option
Photo: Active Duty Outdoors/Disclosure

Today, the USS Oriskany rests on the ocean floor, serving as a vibrant artificial reef and a popular destination for divers. Located off the coast of Florida, the ship attracts diverse marine life and offers an unparalleled underwater exploration location. The Oriskany structure, accessible to recreational divers, is considered one of the best diving spots in the world.

The transformation of the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany into an artificial reef raises the question of whether sinking a ship at sea is really the best option. Although it creates a marine habitat and diving spot, there are concerns about the environmental impact to long term and whether alternative methods of recycling or preservation could be more beneficial.

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Rafaela Fabris

Talks about innovation, renewable energy, oil and gas. Updates daily on opportunities in the Brazilian job market.

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