Bikini Atoll Scuba Diving (Kind Of)

Note: More pictures are posted here:

I had dreamed for 4+ years of going to Bikini Atoll to dive the famous wrecks of the “Ghost Fleet” that we sunk during the Operations Crossroad atomic bomb tests.

I delayed the trip by one year a couple of years ago in order to dive it on a rebreather. It has been about 3-4 years of training, classes, and “practice” dives and I finally was able to go this year Aug 1 – Aug 9.

It took about 30 hours door-to-door to get to the Truk Master boat that was anchored just off of Ebeye island in Kwajalein. To get there, it involved a flight from LAX-HNL, a stay in Honolulu, then flights from HNL-MAJ and MAJ-KWA. Kwajalein is quite an interesting place and you essentially get put into a holding area and then take a bus to ferry to Ebeye and then a short skiff ride to the Truk Master.

The first morning, we did a checkout dive on the Prinz Eugen. Interesting wreck. It was apparently the only German ship that “survived” WW II and it also actually survived both bombings in Bikini. Here is a shot of some torpedoes:

Torpedoes on the Prinz Eugen near Ebeye island

We then left for our 28 hour boat ride to get to Bikini Atoll (yes, another 28 hours to get the “real” location we were going to).

The afternoon we arrived, we had another orientation / checkout dive on the famous aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga CV-3.

Anti-aircraft guns on the USS Saratoga CV-3 in Bikini Atoll

The next day we got two dives on the USS Saratoga again. This is what I had come for!

Dentist’s Office, USS Saratoga CV-3 in Bikini Atoll
Divers Helmet on the “main line” on the Middle Half Deck, USS Saratoga CV-3

Shortly after the second dive on the first “real day” in Bikini Atoll, one of the other divers had a semi-serious case of DCS (aka The Bends). We had to return to go back that night another 28 hours to Ebeye.

We all made the best of it and got to dive some cool airplanes in a “graveyard” and the Palawan wreck over the next few days while we timed visits to the doctor in Ebeye and I got a chance to start playing around with remote lighting.

Helldiver in the “Airplane Graveyard” about 4-5 hours from Ebeye
Helldiver that landed vertically on the ocean bottom
B 25 “Mitchell” Bomber in the Plane Graveyard
Palawan Wreck

We ended up diving on the Prinz Eugen quite a few more times. We had a mission to find the engine room. We spent a total of about 3 hours inside the ship searching and finally found the boiler room! Most people only dive the Prinz Eugen on the outside as a recreational dive or a “checkout” dive. Hence, I don’t believe that anybody (or hardly anybody) has been in the engine room for probably 50 years!

Boiler Room from the Prinz Eugen, Ebeye Island

I am in the process of booking a return trip to Bikini Atoll in 2020. Hopefully next year I will get to spend more time diving the amazing wrecks there!

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