Sinking of the USS Oriskany - May 17, 2006
As hundreds of veterans looked on solemnly, Navy divers blew holes in the retired aircraft carrier and sent the 888-foot USS Oriskany to the bottom of the sea forming the world’s largest deliberately created artificial reef.
Clouds of brown and gray smoke rose in the sky after more than 500 pounds of plastic explosives went off. The rusted hulk took about 37 minutes to slip beneath the waves, about four hours faster than predicted.
Korean and Vietnam War veterans aboard charter boats watched from beyond a one-mile safety perimeter as the “Mighty O” went down in 212 feet of water, about 24 miles off Pensacola Beach.
The aircraft carrier went down stern first, the bow lifting up into the air and creating one final spray of water as it sank. The water churned a foamy white as the deck slid under. Hundreds of surrounding boats blew their horns in tribute.
The Oriskany became the first vessel sunk under a new Navy program to dispose of old warships by turning them into reefs that can attract fish and other marine life.