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Bikini Atoll Liveaboard Diving - USS Saratoga Wreck Penetration

Bikini Atoll Liveaboard Diving

Liveaboard Diving For Technical Divers To Dive The Nuclear Ghost Fleet Of Bikini Lagoon

Popular Bikini Atoll Liveaboards

Liveaboard Diving in Bikini Atoll

Bikini Atoll liveaboard diving is for serious wreck divers to explore the nuclear ghost fleet of Bikini Lagoon, and is only dived from May to September when liveaboards cruise to this area when conditions are calm. Bikini Atoll is suitable for technical divers as average dive depths are 50m (164ft).

Bikini Atoll is a Liveaboard-only diving dive site, and is about deep wreck dives for technical divers, ideally for those divers who use rebreathers. Bikini Atoll is part of the Marshall Islands archipelago, which is an island chain located between Hawaii and the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.

Bikini Lagoon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and sits at the very top of all serious wreck diver’s bucket-list, alongside Truk Lagoon. For those who are keen wreck divers, liveaboard diving in Bikini Atoll provides the opportunity for tech divers to explore the nuclear ghost fleet in comfort.

In the wake of World War II, in a move closely related to the beginnings of the Cold War, the United States of America decided to resume nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall archipelago. After the displacement of the local inhabitants, 67 nuclear tests were carried out from 1946 to 1958, including the explosion of the first H-bomb (1952). Bikini Atoll has conserved direct tangible evidence that is highly significant in conveying the power of the nuclear tests, i.e. the sunken ships sent to the bottom of the lagoon by the tests in 1946 and the gigantic Bravo crater. Equivalent to 7,000 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb, the tests had major consequences on the geology and natural environment of Bikini Atoll and on the health of those who were exposed to radiation. Through its history, the atoll symbolises the dawn of the nuclear age, despite its paradoxical image of peace and of earthly paradise. This is the first site from the Marshall Islands to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.”

UNESCO World Heritage site

Most wrecks at Bikini Atoll are beyond recreational depth limits, which means that the itineraries on the Pacific Master liveaboard are for technical divers who already have wreck diving experience. Whilst many of the wrecks can be penetrated, divers are not permitted to penetrate any of the wrecks without a guide.

The Bikini Atoll liveaboard, which is the Pacific Master, has both rebreather and tech diver support onboard, as well as nitrox fills too.
Bikini Atoll Wreck Diving – Diving from MV Pacific Master liveaboard

Bikini Atoll Liveaboard Dive Sites

The dive sites in Bikini Atoll are mostly about wreck diving the ghost fleet of US war ships that were sunk when the US detonated nuclear bombs in Bikini Atoll. For example, one of the most famous wrecks of Bikini Atoll is the USS Saratoga.

USS Saratoga Wreck Dive

The USS Saratoga is one of the largest diveable shipwrecks in the world, which was a US navy aircraft carrier had a displacement of 36,000 tons, and was 270.7 metres (888 feet) long. This very large wreck was capable of carrying 90 aircraft, she had four twin 8″ (203mm) guns, and 12 single 5″ (127 mm) AA guns onboard. The USS Saratoga was sunk on 25th July 1946 by the Baker atomic bomb test.

Divers can penetrate the USS Saratoga wreck, which now sits upright in 51 metres (167 feet) of water. The top of her superstructure is at about 18 metres (60 feet), and the flight deck averages around 27 metres (90 feet) deep. Divers can enter the superstructure of the wreck through holes in the side of the wreck at around 36-37 metres (118-121 feet).

Some of the aircraft the Saratoga was carrying were onboard when she sank, which can be seen on parts of the dive, either inside the wreck of on the seabed to its sides.

Due to its length and depth of the USS Saratoga wreck, it can take a number of dives to explore her completely and for divers to take in just how large this wreck is. The outside of the Saratoga is covered in hard and soft corals, and makes for interesting dives.

As you dive the wreck you may encounter turtles and sharks swimming around the atoll, so always keep an eye out into the blue as you dive.

Other wreck dives at Bikini Atoll include the following:

  • USS Arkansas: The USS Arkansas was a 171 meter (562 feet) American dreadnought. She was armed with twelve 12″ (305mm) guns and served in World War I and World War II. The USS Arkansas sank after one of the atomic blasts and has ended up almost completely upside down at a depth of 55 meters (180 feet).
  • Nagato: The Nagato was an Imperial Japanese Navy battleship and a super-dreadnought with 16″ (406 mm) guns. She measures 221 meters (725 feet) in length. It was after the Japanese surrendered when she was seized by the Americans and used for testing. She sank during Operation Crossroads in July 1946, and now sits in 52 metres (171 feet) of water, and makes for a great technical dive.
  • USS Anderson: The USS Anderson was a Sims-class destroyer measuring 106 meters (348 feet) long, and was built in 1939. She had machine guns, anti-aircraft missiles and torpedoes onboard and served during World War II. USS Anderson was sunk on 1 July 1946 in the “Able” atomic bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll, and now sits on her side at a depth of 52 metres (171 feet).
  • USS Carlisle: The USS Carlisle was a Gilliam-class attack support boat, measuring 130 meters (426 feet) and was a World War II merchant vessel transporter. The USS Carlisle was sunk in 1946 during Operation Crossroads, and now rests upright on the sand at 51 meters (167 feet), where her deck is at 40 meters (131 feet).
  • USS Lamson: The USS Lamson was a Mahan-class Destroyer ship, measuring 104 metres (341 feet) long. The USS Lamson wreck was sunk during Operation Crossroads in May 1946, and has several guns, torpedoes and bombs, which makes for a great technical dive, as she rests upright on the sand at 51 meters (167 feet) deep.
  • USS Apogon: The USS Apogon was a 95 metre (312 feet) long Balao-class submarine. The USS Apogon is completely intact and now lies at a depth of 48 meters (157 feet). She makes for a great technical dive where divers can explore the conning tower and its propellers.
  • Prinz Eugen: The Prinz Eugen is at nearby Kwajalein Atoll and was a German Nazi Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruiser. She was awarded to the USA by the UK after World War II. The reason she is in Kwajalein Atoll is because she survived the atomic blasts from Operation Crossroads and she sunk whilst being towed to Kwajalein. The Prinz Eugen is sitting upside down and the stern and propellers of the ship are still visible above water, but the bow hangs in mid-water at around 36 metres (117 feet).

A Must Watch Video Of Bikini Atoll Wreck and the USS Saratoga

Bikini Atoll: Into The Atomic Abyss

Is Bikini Atoll still radioactive

Bikini Atoll is still radio active even in 2022, which is as a result of the atomic bomb blasts codenamed “Baker” during Operation Crossroads. The few custodian inhabitants of Bikini Atoll still import all their food and water due to the radioactive contamination still in the land.

Is It Safe To Dive Bikini Atoll?

It is deemed safe to dive Bikini Atoll, as the surrounding sea is no longer contaminated, this is supported by the fact that the fish in the Bikini Atoll lagoon, which is where many of the World War II wrecks are dived are now deemed safe to eat.

When Is The Best Time To Dive Bikini Atoll?

The best time to dive Bikini Atoll is between May to September when sea conditions are calm and water visibility is excellent, which is when Bikini Atoll liveaboards cruise to this area of the Marshall Islands.

Can You Scuba Dive At Bikini Atoll?

You can scuba dive at Bikini Atoll by booking yourself onto a liveaboard, and you can dive if you have at least 50 logged dives, you are Advanced Diver Certified, with deep dive and wreck diving certification and experience.

What Will You Find When Diving Bikini Atoll?

When diving Bikini Atoll you will find many sharks, including grey reef sharks, silvertip sharks, blacktip sharks, whitetip sharks and lemon sharks, but as the diving at Bikini Atoll is focused on the World War II wrecks, you are advised to keep a look out for shark visits whilst diving each wreck.

I hope you enjoyed this page about Bikini Atoll liveaboard diving

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about Bikini Atoll liveaboard diving), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

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