- Published on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 14:10
- Written by editor
The Outer Banks is a legendary place. Off the coast of the Carolinas this is an area known for its southern hospitality, great food and laid back day to day living. It is also known for something else, that is more exciting than most southern area activities…the Outer Banks is also known for its wreck diving.
For local dive industry business owner Bill McDermott, the Outer Banks is more than a place to dive…it’s a way of life. McDermott owns Outer Banks Dive Center in Nags Head and he spearheads a lot of wreck exploration as well as provides a great service to others sharing his obsession. McDermott runs a customized dive boat out to many of the wrecks in the area for the enjoyment of both local divers and those visiting.
What does McDermott do in his off time? He looks for other wrecks. “We have world class diving here,” says McDermott. “The mix of the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Currents brings in a wide variety of marine life to see and these wrecks, well they provide homes to all those sea creatures.” Pam Landrum of Roanoke Outfitters and Dive Center in Manteo, North Carolina couldn’t agree more. “The diving off the coast here is definitely something every diver should experience,” says Landrum. “We have easier dives closer to the beach and technical dives out a ways by boat. Divers of all levels can enjoy themselves here. Wrecks like the USS Heron bring them in and when they get here, most divers can’t believe the sheer volume of wrecks we have sitting right off shore.”
We asked Landrum and McDermott as well as a few other local dive operators which wrecks in the area would be a good starting point for the visiting diver; they gave us ten.
The Advance used to be known as the USS Worland. This wreck was a WWII patrol craft that was once 184 ft. long. Decommissioned in June 1964, it was used as a research and training vessel by Cape Fear Technical Institute before it was sunk was as an artificial reef in 1994. Most local dive trainers consider this wreck an excellent training and certification site. Because it is an easy dive it also offers something to all levels of divers. The Advance is located in 60-85 ft. of water, approximately 6 miles east of Nags Head. This is a very dynamic wreck and it sits, intact, upright with a lot of diverse marine life. There is also a lot of coral growing on the vessel.
The Jackson was once the U.S.C.G. Cutter WSC-142 weighing 241 tons and being an impressive 125 ft. long. She was sunk in the Great Hurricane of 1944. The Jackson is located approximately 8 mile northeast from Oregon Inlet and lies in 65 - 87 ft. of water. The wreck is in two sections with many features visible. This wreck is great for Basic Open Water training. This is a very historical and protected wreck. It is missing the wheel house but it sports good macro life.
Zane Gray and Dionysus
These two were WWII Liberty Ships that ran the seas at 441 ft. long. These two were the first ships to be sunk off the coast of North Carolina as artificial reefs of NC Fisheries. Their depths range from 50 - 85 ft. and the wrecks lie upright approximately 4 miles southeast of Oregon Inlet. These wrecks are slated for all levels of diving and there are many open holes to explore. Divers report large and beautiful sand tigers as well as decks covered with soft and hard colorful corals.
This 218 ft. long U-boat was sunk by the destroyer USS Roper in 1942 and rests approximately 12 miles off Nags Head. She was the very first U-boat sunk off the US coast during WWII. The Conning tower is approximately at 80 ft. with a max depth of 102 ft. This is a very popular dive and divers always report being completely satisfied when they return. The U-85 is listing slightly to starboard and the pressure hull is intact. It is suggested that divers not go inside this wreck because there is a lot of slit and sharp metal.
The Benson is a tanker that is 465 ft. long. When she was afloat she weighed in at 7,953 gross tons; this is no small wreck. The Benson was torpedoed in1942. It sank 25.5 mile northeast of Oregon Inlet. Today she rests at approximately 110 ft. Divers report that this is a great dive with a lot to see. It is so massive that divers can spend their entire dive vacation exploring it. There is a giant rudder that sticks up as a prominent feature. Dive masters suggest that divers do watch for sharp metal.
Mirlo or, the Green Buoy Wreck
The Mirlo was a tanker at 425 ft. long. She was sunk by a mine in 1918 in WWI. She was previously mistaken for the Ciltvaira when she was originally found. The Mirlo sits about 25 miles south of Oregon Inlet in about 120 ft. of water. The wreck is in two sections connected by a debris field. This is an ideal wreck for photography. There are giant propellers and a green navigational buoy as well as abundant marine life. Currently McDermott says they are still trying to positively identify the wreck as the Mirlo.
The U-701 was 218 ft. long. She was sunk off the coast off Cape Hatteras in1942. The wreck is on Diamond Shoals at about a depth of 127 ft. This is a fantastic premier dive for experienced advanced wreck divers. McDermott says that this wreck offers world class diving and that he himself has had several dives on it that he will never forget. McDermott says that the U-701, lying 23 miles south of Nags Head, is one of those dives that will always stay with him. “Divers don’t get to dive this site much because the weather has to be just right,” McDermott says, “However, the last time I was out there I stopped counting sand tigers at 130. It was an amazing dive.”
The Bedloe was a U.S.C.G. Cutter at 125 ft. long. She sunk in the Great Hurricane of 1944. The Bedloe was separated from her sister ship the Jackson during the storm and sank about 21 miles east of Oregon Inlet. She lies at a depth of 145 ft. and is lying on her starboard side. The vessel is intact and has been well preserved. This is a great dive for experienced wreck and technical divers. McDermott says that it took some time to find this wreck and, in fact, it took so long that the Deep Sea Detectives did a series on the search.
The Kyzickes was a tanker that boasted a length of 292 ft. She ran aground during a storm with a cargo of oil in 1927. The wreck lays off the beach at about Milepost 7 and there is Second Street access. The wreckage starts approximately about 100 yards off the beach in 15 - 35 ft. of water. This is a great dive for beginners or for those who want to do a little diving and not have to go out on a charter boat.
The Huron was a post-civil war Federal Ironclad Gunship steamer with sail. Weighing in at an impressive 541 tons, this gunship was 175 ft. long. She ran aground in 1877 and lost 98 men. Located off the beach at Milepost 11 with Bladen Street access, the Huron is a popular dive at approximately 250 yards off the beach.
|Olympus Dive Center
|Air Hogs Scuba
|Ocean Explorer Charters
|Triad Divers Supply
|Outer Banks Dive Center
|Diver Style Scuba
|Black Jack Tech Diving
|Discovery Diving Co.
|Rum Runner Dive Shop
|The Outdoors Outfitters|