This is a technical diving destination and is only suitable for divers with certification for extended range/ decompression diving/ technical diving. All of the wrecks lie beyond normal recreational diving limits, so divers must be certified to dive to a minimum of 50 meters and have experience in wreck penetration.
In 1946, following the end of World War II, the United States gathered together a “mock” naval fleet in order to test the effects of atomic bomb blasts on a large naval fleet. They named it Operation Crossroads and designated Bikini Atoll to be one of the sites for the explosive tests, with the local inhabitants displaced to another atoll. While there were 67 nuclear weapons tests on the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1954 including “Castle Bravo” which left a 2 kilometer wide 76 meters deep crater, the first series of tests in 1946 sank many of the wrecks we dive today. The diving in Bikini Atoll focuses on the wrecks that have been sunk there over the years though many of the premiere ships were sunk during the test in 1946. The maximum depth of the lagoon, and the wrecks we will be diving is between 180 - 200 feet for most of the wrecks. Some of them do come close to the surface (the Saratoga comes within 50 feet of the surface) but much of the attraction is deeper and it is required that all divers be trained to a minimum of 165 feet but 200 feet, and trimix training, is preferred. As in much of the pacific, expect the wrecks that we dive to be highly decorated with many fish. Sharks often find their way to the wrecks as well as some other larger marine life occasionally. We typically do 2 dives in a day with 4 or more hours in between for relaxation and decompression.
Below is a list of a few of the common wrecks we will dive when visiting Bikini Atoll along with a short description of each.
USS Saratoga (CV-3) - Lexington-class Aircraft Carrier
The Saratoga or “Sara” is 888ft long and 95ft wide, weighs 39,000 tons and rests at a depth of 170 feet. It is possible to carry out penetrations through the aircraft. The superstructure comes within 50 feet of the surface and can be entered around 60ft. The Flight deck is near 100 feet and the hangar is just below 100 ft. Here you will find Helldiver planes still situated at 105 ft with all dials and controls, bombed up and ready to go, although the deck is collapsing. Several aircraft lie on the seabed around the carrier and are accessible around 170 feet deep. This is regarded as the signature dive of Bikini Atoll.
Nagato - Japanese Battle Ship
This battleship was built for the Imperial Japanese Navy as the first super-dreadnought to mount 16-inch (406 mm) guns. With a cruising speed of 26.5 knots, this made her the Imperial Navy’s flagship as well as one of the most powerful and versatile warships in the world at that time. She measures 725ft in length and 95ft wide and her crew used to comprise of 1734 men. The Negato rests in 170ft of water and comes within 130 feet of the surface. The Wreck is almost perfectly upside down but you can still access the top deck, and guns, as the wreck lies on the superstructure and deck armament.
An American dreadnought, measuring 562ft long and armed with twelve 12-inch guns and capable of a top speed of 20.5 knots. The USS Arkansas served in both World War I and World War II; escorting convoys in the Atlantic and bombarding shore targets during the invasions of Normandy, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. She was moored only 500 ft. away from the intended atomic bomb detonation in 1946 and was supposedly lifted up vertically within the blast column. She sank completely only 19 minutes after the blast, ending almost completely upside down on the sandy bottom at 180ft depth.
Other possible wrecks on the itinerary include: Prinz Eugen - German Heavy Cruiser - Depth (surface - 110ft), USS Pilotfish - US Submarine - Depth (170ft), USS Lamson - US Destroyer - Depth (160ft - 180ft), USS Anderson - US Destroyer - Depth (150ft - 170ft), USS Apogon - US Submarine - Depth (140ft - 160ft), USS Carlisle - US Attack Suport Boat - Depth (130ft - 165ft), Sakawa - Japanese Light Cruiser - Depth (150ft - 170ft)