Bikini Atoll Wrecks

Some of the nuclear fleet warship wrecks available to scuba dive on during your diving expedition to Bikini Atoll include:

USS Saratoga (CV-3)
— aircraft carrier
USS Saratoga (CV-3) aircraft carrier
 
IJN Sakawa
— light cruiser
IJN Sakawa light cruiser
 
HIJMS Nagato
— battleship
HIJMS Nagato battleship
 
USS Arkansas (BB-33)
— battleship
USS Arkansas (BB-33) battleship
 
USS Anderson (DD-411)
— destroyer
USS Anderson (DD-411) destroyer running trials in 1939
 
USS Lamson (DD-367)
— destroyer
USS Lamson (DD-367) destroyer
 
USS Apogon (SS-308)
— submarine
USS Apogon (SS-308) submarine
 
USS Pilotfish (SS-386)
— submarine
USS Pilotfish (SS-386) submarine
 
USS Gilliam (APA-57)
— attack transport
USS Gilliam (APA-57) attack transport
 
USS Carlisle (APA-69)
— attack transport
USS Carlisle (APA-69) attack transport
 
Prinz Eugen
— heavy cruiser
German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen
 
Note: The German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen survived two atomic bomb blasts, Test Able and Test Baker, at Bikini Atoll and was towed to Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific, where a small leak went unrepaired. On 22 December 1946, Prinz Eugen capsized and sank. As this liveaboard trip takes us to Kwajalein Atoll, we sometimes get the opportunity to dive on the wreck.
GPS: 8° 45.133' N, 167° 40.996' E
 


Video of scuba diving on the wreck of the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which initially survived two Operation Crossroads atom bomb tests at Bikini Atoll but later sunk at Kwajalein Atoll.
Credit: Jonathan Bird's Blue World. (8:01)

Some of the more popular Bikini Atoll scuba dives:

Diver's sketch of aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) on the bottom of Bikini Atoll lagoon.USS Saratoga (CV-3) — The USS Saratoga aircraft carrier is BIGGER than the Titanic! She survived the first atomic blast (Test Able) but sank some time after being severely damaged by the second (Test Baker) underwater blast which was detonated just 370 metres from the carrier. The best of the three "dive-able" aircraft carriers in the world, 'Sara' lies upright in 54 metres (180 feet) of water. The superstructure is at 21 metres (70 feet), deck at 30 metres (100 feet) and the airplane hangers at 39 metres (130 feet). The USS Saratoga is a steel-hulled vessel with a waterline length of 253 metres (830 feet), a flight deck length of 270 metres (888 feet), a beam of 33 metres (108 feet), and officially weighing 37,000 standard tons. As this wreck offers the shallowest dives in Bikini Lagoon, we often dive on her in the afternoon as the second dive of the day. There is so much to explore that you could keep diving on 'Sara' for years and still keep finding something new.
GPS: 11° 35.195' N, 165° 30.515' E


Video showing scuba diving on the USS Saratoga (CV-3) aircraft carrier at Bikini Atoll
Credit: Loneshark Productions. (4:08)

Plans of aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3).
Plans of aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3)
(click on image to see a larger image)

For more detailed USS Saratoga plans, please view/download:
USS Saratoga CV-3 Booklet of General Plans (Adobe PDF | 12.86 MB)

HIJMS Nagato — The Japanese Flagship to the Japanese Navy, she was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's floating fortress battleship during Japan's World War II attack on Pearl Harbor and was a treasure to the Japanese forces. The steel hulled vessel is 221 metres (725 feet) long and weighed 32,720 standard tons. She was the first battleship in the world to mount 16 inch (actually 410 mm) guns. She survived the Test Able air blast, but eventually capsized and sank five days after the Test Baker underwater blast. She is upside down in 48-51 metres (160-170 feet) of water and an incredible dive. Her four massive screws appear like an underwater Stonehenge. The imposing 16 inch guns can be seen when you dive her.
GPS: 11° 36.685' N, 165° 29.553' E


Video showing scuba diving on the Japanese battleship HIJMS Nagato at Bikini Atoll.
Credit: Finnborg Braga. (4:00)

Bikini Atoll dive wreckUSS Arkansas (BB-33) — Noted for the size of its turret guns and amour, this US battleship lies inverted and listing to starboard in 54 metres (180 feet) of water. The riveted steel vessel is 171 metres (562 feet) long and weighed 23,066 standard tons. She survived the Test Able air blast, but was sunk by the Test Baker underwater blast. The first thing you notice as you drop down to the bottom of the USS Arkansas's hull (at the top!) is the terrible damage inflicted on her by the Test Baker blast. Her hull is crushed like a concertina, huge waves of buckled hull plates folded in on the more rigid structure of the girders within. Testament to the forces unleashed by the A-Bombs!
GPS: 11° 36.559' N, 165° 29.342' E


Video showing scuba diving on the USS Arkansas (BB-33) battleship at Bikini Atoll.
Credit: Finnborg Braga. (4:00)

USS Pilotfish (SS-386) — US navy submarine 95 metres (311.8 feet) long and weighing 2424 standard tons submerged. Submerged for the Test Baker atomic blast, USS Pilotfish was moored at a depth of 51 metres (168 feet) at a range of 332 metres (363 yards) from the point of the blast. The USS Pilotfish lies on her side and half-buried in the sand. She is almost completely intact with the exception of a small portion of the conning tower which was blown away.
GPS: 11° 36.567' N, 165° 29.463' E


Video showing scuba diving on the USS Pilotfish (SS-386) submarine at Bikini Atoll
Credit: Loneshark Productions. (2:56)

USS Apogon (SS-308) — US navy submarine 95 metres (311.8 feet) long and weighing 2424 standard tons submerged. Lightly damaged during the Able Blast, USS Apogon, sank during the Test Baker blast into 55 metres (180 feet) of water. USS Apogon is a beautiful dive, not least because she is completely covered in whip corals and soft corals, and shrouded in swirling schools of glassfish, that are usually found around the conning tower. The shadowy silhouette of USS Apogon's conning tower, completely enveloped by glassy sweepers, is one of the most beautiful sights you'll ever see underwater.
GPS: 11° 36.277' N, 165° 29.01' E


Video showing scuba diving on the USS Apogon (SS-308) submarine at Bikini Atoll
Credit: Loneshark Productions. (5:16)

USS Lamson (DD-367) — A destroyer, the USS Lamson was 104 metres (341 ft) long at the deck. USS Lamson was heavily damaged and sunk during the Test Able blast on 1 July 1946. The test burst tore off the light topside superstructure, stacks and mainmast and smashed the bridge. USS Lamson is lying upright with her stern near a depression in the reef indicating she sank stern first. The guns remained in the mounts and the torpedo tubes are intact. The depth charge tracks are twisted and torn but you can clearly see the depth charges in the tracks. USS Lamson has everything you could ever dream of finding on a shipwreck — large guns, anti-aircraft guns, depth charge tracks, plus torpedo tubes (with the torpedoes hanging out!). The old bridge superstructure was destroyed during Test Able but the ship's telegraph and some of the instrument binnacles are still in place. Like the USS Apogon, the USS Lamson is covered in whip corals and soft corals, and her forward 5 inch gun has a large plate coral growing at the end of the barrel. Schools of glassfish can be seen everywhere, and there are aggregations of marbled grouper and coral trout everywhere.
GPS: 11° 37.273' N, 165° 29.126' E


Video showing scuba diving on the USS Lamson (DD-367) destroyer at Bikini Atoll.
Credit: Finnborg Braga. (4:07)

USS Anderson (DD-411) — This destroyer of 2,300 tons displacement, 106 metres (348 ft) in length but only 7.6 metres (25 ft) in beam. She was thus very sleek and very fast, being capable of a massive 37 knots. USS Anderson was very close to Test Able blast ground zero, and was one of the few ships to sink in that blast. Like all good destroyers she bristles with toys: anti-aircraft guns, depth charge racks and projectors (racks drop them off the back of the ship, projectors hurl them out to the sides), 2 sets of torpedo tubes and 4 5-inch main guns. Lying on her side, as she does, gives you an interesting perspective of the ship. She has fabulous twin props that are great for photos. The ambient light and the way the sand scoops under the bow make it probably the most impressive of all the bows in Bikini to photograph.
GPS: 11° 36.612' N, 165° 28.956' E


Video showing scuba diving on the USS Anderson (DD-411) destroyer at Bikini Atoll.
Includes interior footage. Credit: Loneshark Productions. (5:28)

USS Carlisle (APA-69) was a Gilliam-class attack transport that served with the US Navy during World War II. Arriving late in the war, she was initially assigned to transport missions and consequently did not participate in any combat operations. The USS Carlisle shows plenty of atomic bomb damage from the Test Able blast that sunk her. She sits upright on the bottom. All along the port side of the ship the hull has been folded like paper. Folds go horizontally along the entire length of the hull. Extensive damage on the superstructure and main deck forward has collapsed. The starboard side of the hull is largely intact. Interesting artifacts on the main deck aft towards the stern.
GPS: 11° 36.738' N, 165° 28.832' E


Video showing scuba diving on the USS Carlisle (APA-69) attack transport at Bikini Atoll.
Credit: Finnborg Braga.

USS Gilliam (APA-57), named for Gilliam County in Oregon, was the lead ship in the her class of attack transports serving in the United States Navy during World War II. USS Gilliam was the first ship struck by the Test Able blast and sunk in Bikini Lagoon when it accidentally became surface target zero for the test. The basically intact hulk of USS Gilliam sits upright on the bottom of Bikini Lagoon in 55 metres (180 feet) of water. The impression upon viewing the hull is one of chaos — ship parts crumbled, torn, and scattered.
GPS: 11° 36.809' N, 165° 28.958' E

IJN Sakawa was an Agano class light cruiser which served with the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Like other vessels of her class, she was intended for use as the flagship of a destroyer flotilla. IJN Sakawa was taken as a prize of war by the United States after the conclusion of World War II, and was used to evacuate 1,339 Imperial Japanese Army troops stranded on four small islands in the southern Palau group in October 1945. On 25 February 1946, IJN Sakawa was turned over to the US Navy for use in the upcoming Bikini Atoll atomic experiments. The salvage crew found the leaky hull infested with rats, and that most of the ship's systems were not functional. While at Eniwetok Atoll on the way to Bikini Atoll, five of its American sailors were angry over the dismal working conditions aboard IJN Sakawa and tried to sabotage the ship. However, she made it to Bikini Atoll. The detonation of the Test Able bomb occurred 450 metres (490 yards) above and slightly to starboard of IJN Sakawa's stern. The blast caused IJN Sakawa to burn fiercely for twenty-four hours before she eventually sank. The second bomb, Test Baker, was an underwater shot about 150 metres (500 feet) away from the sunken Sakawa.
GPS: 11°36.859' N, 165° 29.177' E

The Bikini Atoll nuclear target fleet

Other significant ships in the Operation Crossroads nuclear test target arrays included: USS Nevada (BB-36) battleship (the designated aim point for Test Able), USS Independence (CVL-22) aircraft carrier, USS New York (BB-34) battleship, USS Pensacola (CA-24) heavy cruiser, USS Salt Lake City (CA-25) heavy cruiser, USS Hughes (DD-410) destroyer, USS Rhind (DD-404) destroyer, and USS Skipjack (SS-184) submarine.

For details of most of the other ships in the Operation Crossroads nuclear test target arrays, plus what happened to them please see Bikini Atoll Nuclear Target Fleet.

For an official pictorial record of Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll please view/download: Operation Crossroads: The Official Pictorial Record (Adobe PDF | 10.58 MB)

Warning: Scuba diving at Bikini Atoll will change you forever. Some divers on earlier expeditions with The Scuba Doctor to Bikini Atoll in earlier years simply stopped diving for a year or more after the trip. Nothing else could measure up after Bikini Atoll. Don't miss out. Book your spot today!


Video "Bikini Atoll 2012 - the Nuclear Fleet" from The Scuba Doctor's October 2012 dive expedition.
Credit: Manu Raze. (25:00)

Suunto EON Core at The Scuba Doctor Dive Shop