According to the United Nations, ocean and sea water hide about three million of sunken ships. Not all vessels of this quantity are full of treasures. In the XXI century wooden sunken vessels are so rare, that they are seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. Mentioned three million are not only wreck victims. Of course, some of them made a terrible wreck within two world wars, the others – because of any accidents and poor visibility, the rest were sunk on purpose.
So why do people sink ships?
One of the reasons for it is to create artificial reefs, which have a lot of positive purposes. First of all, such reefs turn lifeless sea or ocean bottom into a sanctuary for marine inhabitants after bottom trawls and waste water harm. The more creatures live in water the better their common ability to regenerate and deal with pollution. The reefs serve to recover natural coral; also they strengthen and prevent the coastlines being washed away. Do not even talk that such initiatives attract many divers and develop the tourist industry.
Now you can read about some of the vessels sunken deliberately to be turned into sea sights and gained traction as places for wreck diving.
American aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, which was floated out in 1945, was the largest ship that became an artificial reef. The ship participated in Korea fighting and Vietnam War. In 1974 the aircraft carrier was removed from the navy and laid up. Only 30 years ago it was decided to sink the ship and in 2006 USS Oriskany became an artificial reef and the sight of the state of Florida. It was quite hard to sink such a ship – it took 225 kilos of explosive and 37 minutes for going to the deep. North-south direction was accepted as a way of a proper sinking at a depth of 60 meters. The Times called USS Oriskany one of the most popular places for wreck diving.
USS Kittiwake belonged to the United States Navy and was commissioned just several weeks before the end of the Second World War. The ship was decommissioned in 1994, then the Cayman Islands government bought her to create an artificial reef. USS Kittiwake sank on January 5, 2011, near Seven Mile Beach. She was prepared to be safe for marine life so she don’t have any barriers such as doors and hatches inside. The ship has its right to be considered a worldwide tourist sight.
General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a missile-tracking ship, was also turned into an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico. In May of 2009 she was planted with explosive, but before sinking the ship was well prepared: the experts checked the hull on the presence of harmful substances. As the result, 10 tons of asbestos and about 250 thousand meters of electrical wiring were deleted.
The Prince Albert is another vessel which found the last shelter in Honduras near the island of Roatan. The ship had a turbulent history, while she was Prince Albert’s property. The vessel transported Nicaragua refugees in past. Then she was bought by Coco View Resort owner and in 1987 was sunken for attracting tourists and divers.
What is another reason for sinking the ships?
History knows many cases, when ships were sunk for military aims, for example, in order to provide the safety of city or port from enemy fleet. One of such known occasion is Sevastopol Bay. In the midst of Crimean War in 1855 it was decided to sink seven sailboats. Their masts made an Anglo-French fleet invasion much more difficult. All the bottom of the bay has about 91 sunken sailboats, 20 of them were raised and repaired. In 1905 the government opened the Monument to the Sunken Ships which became the visit card of the city.