USS Oriskany (CV/CVA 34)

The USS Oriskany, affectionately referred to as “The Mighty O” was a U.S. Navy Essex-class aircraft carrier named for the Revolutionary War Battle of the same name.

Originally rushed to construction as part of the war effort, the USS Oriskany (CV/CVA-34) was designed as an Essex-class aircraft carrier. When World War II ended, construction was slowed, and then suspended in 1947 for redesign. Design modifications included adjustments to the hull for stability, and adjustments to the flight deck and elevators so that they could handle heavier aircraft. The redesigned Oriskany was finally commissioned on September 25, 1950. In 1951, the Oriskany was once again redesigned, and fitted with a new, wider, flight deck to accommodate a higher volume of take-offs and landings. In 1956, the Oriskany underwent additional deck redesigns, and was refitted with steam-powered catapults, which were used to launch departing aircraft from the flight deck.

The USS Oriskany earned two battle stars during the Korean War, and another five during the Vietnam War. During the Vietnam War, the Oriskany launched more sorties and flew more missions than any other US Navy Carrier.

The USS Oriskany was sunk approximately 24 miles South East of Pensacola, Florida as an artificial reef in May of 2006. She now rests upright in 215ft of water.

Stats on The Mighty O
LAID DOWN: 01 MAY 1944
DISPLACEMENT: Max 47,000 Tons
LENGTH: 911 feet overall
BEAM: 157 feet overall
DRAFT: 30 feet 6 inches maximum

PROPULSION: 8 boilers, 4 engines
POWER: 150,000 horsepower
SPEED: 33 knots Max
AIRCRAFT: 80-100
ARMAMENT: 8 five inch guns & 14 three inch guns
ACTIVE SERVICE: 8,784 days
REEFED: 17 MAY 2006

On May 17, 2006, the USS Oriskany became the largest ship intentionally sunk as an artificial reef. The USS Oriskany was sank 24 miles Southeast of Pensacola, Florida, the cradle of Naval Aviation. Engineers expected the sinking to take anywhere from five to eight hours, the Oriskany surprised all in attendance when she sank in only 37 minutes.

Divers soon confirmed that the 32,000 ton Oriskany had come to rest upright in a north-south orientation in 215 feet of water. This left the tower at around 70ft and the flight deck at 135ft. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms have cause the ship to list a few degrees, which now puts her tower at 84ft and her flight deck at 146ft. Since the Oriskany sits at the edge of the Gulf Stream, scuba divers often find conditions clearer and warmer than other sites in the Pensacola area. It’s also not uncommon to encounter whale sharks, and other large pelagic species on the Oriskany wreck, mostly depending on luck, and the time of year.

The Oriskany is an ADVANCED dive. We require all divers either be Advanced Certified or have at least 25 dives. If you are looking to take your Advanced Scuba Diver Course please visit our Course Catalog.

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Capt. Doug

Captain Douglas is the owner and fearless leader of the H2O Below team.
Capt. Doug


Nine joined the H2O team in 2017. You can find her with a bag of popcorn in hand.

MBT Divers offers an exclusive USS Oriskany Diver course that provides an excellent historical background of the ship and provides divers with a guide to identifying parts of the ship and potential hazards. Book Here!