Oriskany On Course for Sinking

Monday, April 24, 2006
Decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA 34) sits in port at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, while undergoing necessary maintenance. The 32,000-ton, 888-ft. Oriskany was delivered to Pensacola, where it prepared for its final journey. By Mike O’Connor, Naval Air Station Pensacola Public Affairs

A pierside press conference was held April 18 aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola to provide details of the final preparations for sinking the decommissioned aircraft carrier ex-Oriskany (CVA 34). With the rusting hulk of Oriskany as a backdrop, Capt. Lawrence Jones, Inactive Ships program manager in charge of the Oriskany project and Resolve Marine’s Vice President Denise Johnston answered questions about the sinking. Resolve-Esco Joint Venture is the contractor for the final work necessary to prep the ship for its ultimate disposition as a reef. This includes pre-ballasting water tanks aboard to get the ship as low in the water as possible and cutting access plates between the engineering spaces to allow for natural flooding. Weather permitting, the ship will make its final sortie May 15. It will be sunk May 17 as the largest Navy vessel intentionally sunk to become an artificial reef. The proposed site for Oriskany’s final resting place is approximately 24 miles off the coast of Pensacola in 212 feet of water. “The largest challenge is ballasting the vessel, due to the fact of her age and some of the piping systems that were cut during the remediation progress,” Johnston said. “We are on target for our completion date, and we don’t anticipate any problems.”

Massive anchors, each weighing 33,000 pounds, will be used in a four-point mooring system to help ensure that the ship sinks in the desired south-facing orientation. Navy explosive demolition technicians will place small charges on the ship’s intake valves shortly before the sinking. The ship will flood from inside progressively in order to sink on an even keel. “The plan is designed to have segregated bulkheads...so that it could go down by the bow,” Jones said. “We have put everything into this to have it go down even trim, even keel. And that’s how the state wants it...to make a pleasing venue for diving.”

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