Rigger I (Santa Monica Bay, 175 fsw)


It was my second dive of the day aboard the Sundiver Express with Kyaa (more on the first dive — which will be a whopper — in another post).

I had heard about the “Rigger 1” or “Rigger” or “Rigger One” a few times but didn’t really know much about it so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had just heard that it was a pretty big steel hull wreck that was on it’s side.

I had unbelievable visibility on the dive. According to Steve Lawson, visibility is usually poor at 10-15′. I had at least 40-50′ on my dive. I took some natural light photos that illustrate the visibility. The picture below was from the bottom of drop line which was 50+ feet away from the wreck (also note the pyrosomes in the water).

Rigger I Natural Light Photo – Note the visibility

Rigger I

This section is based primarily on information supplied by Steve Lawson.

The Rigger I started life as a steel-hulled garbage lighter. It was built the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard in the 1932/1933 and entered service as the YG-18 in 1933 and assigned to the Eleventh Naval District in San Pedro from 1933-1943 and then was assigned to the Fourteenth District at Pearl Harbor from 1943-1948.

Typical garbage lighter (photo from Steve Lawson)

After service in the Navy, it went through a couple different owners before being acquired by Louis N. Waterfall, Inc. in Los Angeles for use as a tender for deep sea oil exploration and renamed to the Rigger I in 1956.

The Rigger I got caught in a storm and foundered while tendering oil rigs off of Santa Monica on 21 January 1969.

Los Angeles Times article from Jan 22, 1969

The Wreck

As mentioned, I got lucky and had very good visibility on the day of my dive on the Rigger I. The wreck has a fair amount of white metridiums on it and is still largely intact (probably due to the depth). For some reason, there is a ton of pyrosomes in the water right now. Here is a picture as I’m descending the down-line with a “cloud” of them (you can also see the outline of the ship at the top of the frame):

Pyrsomes with wreck at the top of the frame

I had previously done a reasonably deep dive on my first dive and only had about an hour of surface interval and the wreck is a decent size so I did one long, slow lap around it while taking pictures and then headed back to the down line to start my decompression. I didn’t do any penetration but there are definitely areas you can go inside to look around. I’ll save that exploration for whenever I return.

Below are a few different pictures. The wreck was covered with fish.

And here is one more natural light photo illustrating the amazing visibility I had:

Natural Light photo (1/30, f6.3, ISO 3200)


Emails with Steve Lawson


5 thoughts on “Rigger I (Santa Monica Bay, 175 fsw)

  1. Thanks for posting the photos. That’s one of those wrecks that show up very well on Google Earth that I had planned to dive some day but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    1. You should _definitely_ go dive it since your boat is relatively close. If you ever want a dive buddy, I’m totally game to go dive it again and maybe do some penetration.

Leave a Reply