Oriskany was the first United States warship slated to become an artificial reef, under authority granted by the fiscal 2004 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 108-136).
Oriskany was towed to Pensacola in December 2004 and was originally scheduled to be sunk with controlled charges 24 mi (39 km) south of Pensacola by June 2005.
A Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team from Panama City, FL detonated C-4 explosive charges of approximately 500 lb (230 kg) net explosive weight, strategically placed on 22 sea connection pipes in various machinery spaces. 37 minutes after detonation, the ship sank stern first in 210 ft (64 m) of water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Although it’s quite heartbreaking to those who served on her as well as others, USS Oriskany had to be put to rest. Although this happened a decade ago in 2006, this is still a sinking of the century.
As a bit of a background on the ship herself, USS Oriskany was commissioned in 1950. Serving through the Korean War as well as other conflicts, her service ended in 1976 when she was decommissioned. Her fate however, differed greatly from other ships like her.
As part of a program to create artificial reefs, she was stripped down and carefully cleaned of any toxic materials. Assessed by the EPA as well as other government organizations, she was cleared to be safely sunk in the Gulf of Mexico in 2006.
To accomplish the job (and this is the footage of it in the video), approximately 500 lbs. of C-4 explosives were placed in 22 strategic locations around the ship. After detonation, it took the ship about 37 minutes to sink.
As you’ll notice, the ship went down hull first and that was intentional. The carrier rested on the ocean floor vertically as to allow recreational divers to access the reef. All in all, as painful as it might be, she was put to good use.
To this day, she’s the largest artificially created reef in the world.