A Short History:
Oriskany (CVA-34), an attack aircraft carrier, was laid down 1 May, 1944 by the New York Naval Shipyard, launched 13 October 1945; and sponsored by Mrs. Clarence Cannon. While still incomplete, her construction was suspended 12 August, 1947. She remained in a state of preservation until after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June 1950, and then was rushed to completion. She commissioned in the New York Naval Shipyard 25 September, 1950, Capt. Percy H. Lyon in command.
Following carrier qualifications for Air Group 102, Oriskany departed San Diego 15 September, 1952 to aid UN forces in Korea. She arrived in Yokosuka 17 October and joined Fast Carrier Task Force 77 off the Korean Coast 31 October. Her aircraft struck hard with bombing and strafing attacks against enemy supply lines and coordinated bombing missions with surface gun strikes along the coast. Her pilots downed two Soviet-built MIG-15 jets and damaged a third on November 18.
Strikes continued through 11 February, 1953, heaping destruction upon enemy artillery positions, troop emplacements, and supply dumps along the main battlefront. Following a brief upkeep period in Japan, Oriskany returned to combat 1 March, 1953. She continued in action until 29 March, called at Hong Kong, and then resumed air strikes 8 April. She departed the Korean coast 22 April, touched at Yokosuka, and then departed for San Diego 2 May, arriving there 18 May. Oriskany departed San Diego 5 April, 1965 for Westpac, arriving Subic 27 April. By this time more United States troops had landed in South Vietnam to support Vietnamese troops against increased Viet Cong pressure to destroy the independence of that nation. Oriskany added her weight to the massive American naval strength supporting the freedom of South Vietnam. In combat operations that brought her and embarked Carrier Wing 16 the Navy Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service between 10 May and 6 December, 1965, she carried out over 12,000 combat sorties and delivered nearly 10,000 tons of ordnance against enemy forces. She departed Subic Bay 30 November and returned to San Diego 16 December. Following twenty-five years of service, Oriskany was decommissioned 30 September, 1975. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in July 1989, and sold for scrapping on 9 September, 1995. The contractor defaulted and the ship was repossessed by the Navy, with the contract terminated 30 July, 1997. The ship remained at the Beaumont Reserve Fleet in Beaumont, Tex., until December, 2004 when she was towed to Pensacola, Florida for preparation to be sunk as an artificial reef in the summer of 2005.
The massive aircraft carrier rests in 212 feet of water in a north-south orientation on the sandy bottom. The flight deck is at 130 feet (original reports claimed it was 150 feet -- a bit too deep for recreational divers). With an overall height of 151 feet, there is plenty of ship to view within recreational dive limits. The "island" where the bridge and flight deck control are located along with eight decks rises above the flight deck. Divers checking the site the day after Oriskany's sinking reported seeing the tower from the surface and underwater visibility of 100 feet. Each waterproof card is printed on both sides, made of durable PVC plastic and is designed to be taken on the dive. They are also 3-hole punched to fit in standard log books or on lanyards. Card measures (W x L) 5.5" x 8.5" (14cm x 21.6cm) and makes a great gift idea.