The decommissioned aircraft carrier ex-Oriskany (CV/CVA 34) will become the largest ship intentionally sunk as an artificial reef in mid-May.
The 888-foot ship will be reefed in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 24 miles off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., and will benefit marine life, sport fishing and recreational diving in the area.
In November 2004, President George Bush signed the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, allowing the Navy to transfer inactive vessels to states, U.S. possessions, municipal corporations and municipalities for artificial reefing purposes.
"The sinking of the ex-Oriskany will provide an additional offshore location for the regional recreational fishery and diving industries, which will translate into positive economic benefits for Pensacola and the State of Florida,” said Capt. Larry Jones, the Navy's Inactive Ships program manager.
Built in 1945, Oriskany received precedent-setting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after a series of studies indicated that the ship will create an environmentally safe artificial reef. EPA Region IV issued a risk-based Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) disposal approval in February based on their findings that the disposal action would not pose an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.
“The Navy’s seawater leaching studies and fate and transport models show that the ex-Oriskany reef will be safe for both people and marine life,” said Jones.
“The Navy takes environmental
stewardship seriously and the ex-Oriskany sinking will be a historic event for the Navy and the state of Florida to create a habitat for marine life, sport fishing and recreational diving off the coast of the Florida Panhandle,” said Jones.
The notional sink date for ex-Oriskany is May 17, subject to weather conditions. The Navy estimates it will take approximately five hours for the ship to sink, ideally with the ship landing upright on the ocean floor at a depth of approximately 212 feet. This will provide a 61-foot navigational clearance above the ship at mean low water. After the vessel reaches the bottom, ownership of the vessel transfers to the state of Florida.
The Inactive Ships Program Office, part of the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Ships, is responsible for transitioning ships from the fleet for storage and disposal, preserving the naval heritage through donations, enhancing marine ecosystems through artificial reefing, and protecting the environment through ship dismantling and recycling.
From Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications