The Ruby E was the second vessel intentionally sunk off of Mission Beach, San Diego as part of “wreck alley.” She was built in 1934 and sank on June 18, 1989 so she has been down for a while. This post will give some history of the ship, pictures from a recent dive, and a photogrammetry model built from photos during four dives.
USCGC Cyane (WPC-105)
She was originally built by the Union Dry Dock & Machine Works Company in Seattle in 1934 and served in the U.S. Coast Guard as the USCGC Cyane (WPC-105). The Cyane was named after the fresh water nymph who witnessed Hades’s abduction of Persephone. She tried to prevent it and was turned to liquid by Hades. In an alternate version of the tale, she dissolved in tears after failing to save her friend and melted into her pool of tears.
Pre World War II
The Cyane was originally designed to intercept “rum runners” during the prohibition but the prohibition ended in December 1933 before she was put into service for that duty. She was based in Ketchikan, Alaska and spent most of her career patrolling Alaskan waters and served in the Bering Sea Patrol during 1937-1938.
World War II
The US learned that the Japanese were planning a thrust into Alaskan waters as part of their Midway operation. Admiral Nimitz allocated five cruisers, fourteen destroyers, six submarines, and auxiliary craft to the area and the Navy created the Alaskan Sector under the command of Captain Ralph C. Parker.
The Cyane had her armament upgraded at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in 1941. They installed sonar gear, depth charge tracks, and a Y gun as well as anti-aircraft weaponry.
By May 1942, Parker’s “Alaskan Navy” had expanded his fleet to include two old destroyers and four additional Coast Guard cutters which included the Cyane, along with quite a few other ships and twenty PBY Catalinas. During WW II, she conducted anti-submarine and search and rescue patrols as well as a convoy escort.
Post World War II
The Cyane was decommissioned on 1 August 1950 and was put into storage at the Coast Guard Moorings in Kennydale, Washington. She was sold to Birchfield Boiler, Inc. in December 1954 for $8,1560.00 (about $90k today), renamed to the Can Am, her crew berthing quarters were turned into refrigerated holds, and she served as a fish-processing vessel in the waters off Central and South America. The rumor is that vessel designed to prevent “rum running” was impounded by customers officers in South America for drug smuggling.
She was sold again and eventually ended up as a salvage vessel named the Ruby E. The vessel was seized after the new owners ran into financial difficulties and couldn’t pay the loans. It was purchased by the San Diego Tug & Barge Company and the owners were going to remove the equipment and sell the hull for scrap.
A local diver (Al Bruton) and the local dive community convinced them to donate the hull. It was cleaned out and readied for divers by cutting holes for penetration. The ship was ready to be sunk and was flooded but she didn’t sink immediately. There were two “secret” holds (for smuggling drugs?) that prevented it from sinking. They eventually got the ship to sink.
The Ruby E is a small-ish sized wreck with a length of 165 feet and a beam of 25 feet and sits upright in about 85 feet of water with the deck at at about 65 feet. She is a lot of fun to dive and has a lot of color due to the strawberry anemones that cover her. She has started to collapse and the wheel house is now off to the starboard side. It is generally possible to do some penetration on the wreck; however, most divers are cautioned not to do that given the fact that the wreck is fragile and collapsing.
I spent a few dives photographing the engine room and the cargo area. They are both somewhat fragile and the engine room is a tight space that I would not recommend going into unless you are extremely comfortable in that environment.
For a long time, I didn’t dive the Ruby E because I was concentrating on “new” discoveries and deeper wrecks. Having dived it a number of times, I highly recommend it for anybody who is diving in the San Diego area — even if you aren’t a “wreck diver.” The colors are great.
Below is a link to the model (lower res for mobile devices, higher res is also available on Sketchfab) along with some screenshots of the model.
These include some of the inside spaces (engine room and fish hold behind it) which you can navigate into on the online model.
Here are a couple screen captures from inside the engine room. You can see the two rows of 6 cylinder engines. The engine is included in the on-line model so you can “navigate” into that are of the ship (it is amidship).
Building the Model
The model actually gave me a lot of problems. The primary issue revolved around aligning photos between dives. There is a sharp edge on the transition from the deck to the hull and there is also some fine edges on the areas around the stern and the bow. I created a LOT of draft models along the way where the bow or the stern would have a “ghost” image for sets of photos from different that were slightly mis-aligned and it created a big skew over the course of the photos.
Also, I think at one point I was building models around a common alignment between dives of the pilot house and due to the narrow gap to the main ship, it would get slightly different results between photos from different dives and that would throw everything off.
Some examples of this are shown below:
I won’t detail all the compute cycles used, but I eventually got everything to align (almost) perfectly and built a really good model. Note that this model also does include interior spaces. They are not easy to navigate into and I will publish a second post at some point soon that shows how they look with the deck stripped away. I’m currently working on different options for depicting the insides of ships.
The end result is that the model turned out very well and you can “peer inside” the model to see the interior spaces. Have fun!
Below are numerous pictures of both the exterior and the interior. We had really good visibility the first day I dove the wreck so most of the external pictures are from that dive. The internal pictures are from later dives.
The area behind the engine room is below. I think the picture on the bottom is of the prop shaft running from the engine room back to the prop. The floor has partially collapsed away. I’m pretty sure this was the area that was converted from crew quarters into tanks for fish processing.
Below are pictures of the engine room. The ship had 2 x 6 cylinder engines. You can see them on either side of the engine room and on the starboard side the cylinder heads are removed.
It is fun to compare these photos to the model posted above.
Here are some corresponding photos from the Divebums website that show some of the same areas before sinking:
The unrelenting support and encouragement from Tyler, Lauren, and Chris & Lora @ Marissa. This project was a bit more than I had bargained for but they kept urging me on to stick with it and finish it. Thanks!