While a global trek to Fiji, Indonesia, Mexico or even the islands scattered throughout the Caribbean is always enticing, there are some stories waiting just below the surface in the states.
And US scuba divers who visit these homegrown locations may be surprised to learn the history behind these sites, all while encountering an abundance of unique wrecks where the corals and local marine life flourish.
So if your idea of a history lesson takes place alongside sharks, sea turtles and schools of barracuda, then you might want to plan a vacation to one of these diving destinations where America’s involvement in military history comes alive.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina were a hotbed of activity during both World Wars. And, during the WWII years, had more lives loss than the December 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Long infamous as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” divers in-the-know can point newcomers to a ghostly array of vessels and submarines deep below the tumultuous waters, which includes the U-352.
This former German U-Boat that was destroyed by a US Coast Guard Cutter is now submerged well below the surface.
Its outer hull is long gone, large portions of the vessel remain intact and serve as an eerie reminder of this region’s long history with wars and shipwrecks.
The crystal clear waters off the Florida Keys are home to more than their fair share of wrecks. And considering that many have been purposely sunk in the past decade or so, divers can expect to enjoy stunning views of vessels that are remarkably intact.
But one of the veritable stars of this underwater scene is the USCG Duane, which is also one of the oldest artificial reefs in the region.
Sunk in 1987, this 327’ ft. vessel served in World War II and Vietnam before being put out of commission and is currently home to schooling barracudas, Atlantic spadefish and a massive deck that’s being overtaken by vibrant, neon-colored corals.
The USS Arizona was one of the first and most significant causalities of WWII and was destroyed and brought to its final resting place by Japanese Naval Forces during the infamous 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing.
While diving among the ruins is not permitted, underwater explorers can still note the memorial that was built above the war grave, and which continually honors those who lost their lives.
Don’t be surprised if you hear several names for this WWII site in the Graveyard of the Atlantic; it’s easy for the hundreds of deep wrecks to create a little confusion.
But one of the most popular wrecks, which was commonly mistaken for the “Papoose,” is a 435’ ft. ship called the Hutton, which was transporting fuel from Texas to the northern East Coast.
It was struck by a German torpedo in the midst of WWII and sank to the ocean floor before mistakenly being identified as the “Papoose” by the US Navy.
Well, the name stuck, and current divers still flock to the “Papoose” for incredible shark, Mahi, amberjack and Spanish mackerel sightings, which are abundant in the summer months.
There’s a lot of military history waiting just below the surface if you know where to look. From the untold
From the untold stories of the Graveyard of the Atlantic to the more successful vessels that were purposely sunk as artificial reefs, the US has a treasure trove of wreck diving.
Uncover the stories and legends of your backyard, and enjoy a trek that will keep the spirit of the 4th of July going all through the summer.
Accessible and undeniably moving, a world of stories are waiting for divers who want to know more.
Want to learn where the perfect wrecks are located?! Check out our website to contact us. If you live in the Dallas area, swing by our shop in Carrollton, and we’ll be happy to chat with you about scuba!