I published a Top 10 Diving Recap in 2020 and then again in 2021.
This year I am making it a “Top 10 Dives and Projects” list since quite a bit of my diving this year has been working on more longer-term projects that involve multiple dives on the same wreck.
It has been another amazing year and I owe so much thanks and gratitude to so many people – but my wife tops that list. She listens patiently as I blab on about my photogrammetry or a new wreck, looks at pictures of things that only a hardened wreck diver would understand — and she smiles and supports my passion for wreck diving.
The ocean doesn’t give up her secrets easily, but Tyler and I have had another amazing year of new discoveries — some of which will be detailed below and are included in the Top 10. I also had a great year of advancing my knowledge and practice of using photogrammetry as a tool. Some of those models have also made the Top 10 list.
It was a very hard task to only pick ten dives or projects and then to rank those. Just to give a sense of the challenge, most people would be really excited to dive the wrecks I did NOT include on my list. Just a few of these include:
- The Boys Club – A brand new wreck find that I also identified and it didn’t even make the list. Crazy.
- Sea Dancer – Another new wreck that I’m pretty sure we have correctly identified. I think I am still the only diver on the wreck.
- Fairchild PT-19 – Yet another new airplane find that didn’t even make the “Top 10.” Very fun dive and a great detective project to identify the type of airplane.
- Showa Maru No 5 – A fantastic wreck in Palau that played a pivotal role in blocking other ships from escaping during Operation Desecrate One. Only recently found and not dived very often. Thanks to Aron & Richard for getting us on the wreck.
- Corsair Model – This was one of my better models and I personally think it looks really cool, but it wasn’t “big” enough for me to make the Top 10 and it is a relatively well known wreck.
- Harrington’s Hellcat – This one was so very close to making the list. It is an amazing wreck that I had heard about and had wanted to diver for a long time. Steve Lawson ended up taking me there so a big “thanks!” for that.
- B-24 Liberator “Tulsamerican” – Another fantastic airplane wreck in Vis, Croatia with a great history.
- ACE Model – Again, another cool wreck and I produced a good model after just one dive. I’m hoping it will help future divers since there really aren’t any other dive aids available for this wreck.
- Midnight Hour – Same as the ACE, a really nice photogrammetry model after one dive. It is on the “backside” of Catalina and I don’t think is dived too often.
- IJN Iro – Probably the most picturesque and “best” well-known wreck in Palau.
In addition to those that didn’t make the list, there were also a bunch of others not even mentioned above (Farnsworth Banks, WW II Airplane Junk Yard Revisited (I have now dove at least 12 dumped planes), the Pipe Horse, the new wreck Steel Hull Working Boat, nice model of the “Wilshire” wreck, the “Temple of Doom” cave in Palau, and many more!
It is a little mind-boggling to think that I dove all those sites, in addition the Top 10 list below, in a single year.
About the only dives there were planned for 2022 that didn’t happen were the trip to the Oriskany which was canceled due to weather and the USS Perry which conditions prevented me from diving before I had to fly home from Palau.
According to my dive log program, here are some interesting statistics for 2022:
- Total Dives = 134
- Rebreather Dives = 100
- Deepest Dive = 293 feet (Deep Throne)
- Average Max Depth = 139 feet
- Longest Dive = 5 hour 21 minutes
- Total Dive Time = 6 days, 7 hours, 4 minutes
- I’m guessing a big percentage of that was on deco
Top 10 of 2022
It was hard to get down to a list of 10 from all of the great dives in 2022. Here they are:
10. B-36 Peacemaker (San Diego, 210 & 255 fsw)
Such a crazy cool airplane with both propellers (that face “backwards”) and jet engines and the wreck has an amazing story of a pilot that essentially sacrificed his life.
Tyler found the sixth engine a while back and I was fortunate enough to be able to dive both sites this past year.
My dream would be to make a model of the entire debris field but it is very deep and a very big area to cover.
9. Deep Throne (San Diego, 300 fsw)
Deep Throne had been on my “to do” list for a long time but it is very deep and requires just the right conditions.
There is an amazing back story behind Deep Throne that involves the worst submarine accident in US History and our response to that with designing and building DSRVs. Worth a read.
Photo to the right is taken by Drew Wilson.
8. “Full Stall Landing” TBF-1C Avenger (Point Loma, 150 fsw)
Tyler had a “breakthrough” idea on how to overlay a few disparate sources of data to locate new targets to dive. This was one of the first dives on an unknown target and we found a cool new airplane.
It took quite a bit of detective work to identify this one but it was worth the effort. The post has all of the details.
7. Michael N. Maris (Vis, Croatia, 240 fsw)
The Michael N. Maris is a fantastic wreck in Croatia. It is somewhat deep and in an area that can have a lot of current. That is part of the reason it is decorated in beautiful purple coral.
It was only recently discovered and I only got to visit about half the wreck given the depth and the length of the wreck. I definitely want to re-visit it.
6. “Skip Bombing Mission” P-38 (Solana Beach, 180 fsw)
Yet another amazing new “find” by Tyler.
It is deep, but not too deep. I got some great photos and built a good photogrammetry model that clearly shows the outline of the distinct shape of the P–38 “dual booms” and engines. This wreck is upside down.
5. Ruby E Photogrammetry Project (San Diego, 85 fsw)
The Ruby E is really nice wreck to dive. It is big enough to be interesting but not too big. It is covered in beautiful strawberry anemones. It also has a funny history of being built to interdict rum runners during prohibition but then eventually was caught running drugs.
I spent a few dives getting photos for a good model and, for the first time, I have included the engine room and fish cargo areas that you can navigate into in the model.
4. HMS Southwold Stern (Malta, 240 fsw)
I got Covid in Malta which really sucked because I missed half of my planned dives. However, I did get four days of diving in and I think my favorite site was the stern section of this British destroyer. It hit a land mine and was blown up and the bow and stern section require two different dives.
The stern is very picturesque and I love the “Southwold” badge at the end of the stern and there are some pretty epic guns as well.
The bow section of the wreck is also a fantastic dive.
3. USS Hogan Photogrammetry Project (San Diego, 120 fsw)
The Hogan is one of my favorite wrecks in Southern California. Most people look at it and see a debris field. I see a destroyer minesweeper laid out in a straight line with an epic stern, cool boilers and a razor sharp bow in the sand.
Many divers don’t know where to go or what to look for when they dive this historical wreck. Hopefully this full photogrammetry model with details of each section will provide a “roadmap” for future divers.
2. B-17 Flying Fortress (Vis, 235 fsw)
The B-17 wreck in Croatia is absolutely amazing. The story behind the wreck and the captain that circled the airfield waiting to land after being riddled with enemy fire is one for the history books.
The fact that this wreck is deep and so close to shore (you can do your deco up the wall) AND that it is completely intact makes it very special dive, I was fortunate enough to do two dives on the wreck and would happily go back and do a lot more and pay the deco price.
1. F8F Bearcat (Point Loma, 230 fsw)
I love airplane wrecks. Tyler and I found and identified quite a few new planes in 2022. The Bearcat is a rare airplane and it is almost completely intact and relatively deep.
I first dove the wreck in June and was the only diver to see the wreck until I recently returned with Drew Wilson to make a better photogrammetry model.
Because she is deep and I was the first diver to see her and we have a good candidate for the ID, the Bearcat was my top dive of 2022.
I have a few international trips planned and on the horizon that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time. Hopefully they will all pan out. The big international trips include:
- Bikini Atoll
- Britannic (Kea, Greece)
Yes – the Britannic (sister ship to the Titanic) is a distinct possibility for 2023 and we are relatively far along in the planning process. I won’t give away too many details but if all three of those actually happen, it will be “epic.”
I have a local “pet project” that Ray and I are working on that I’ll keep under wraps for now. I thought we might have been able to dive it in 2022 but that didn’t happen so it will carry over into 2023. I also have another local “secret” dive trip planned in early 2023 that I will also keep under wraps for now but all will be revealed soon enough and I’m hoping it will be amazing.
There are a number of local wreck photogrammetry projects that I want to complete in 2023:
- Finish the HMCS Yukon – I’ve been publishing my “ups and downs” on the project and I will find a way to finish it in 2023
- The SBD Dauntless – Tyler and I both want to make a model of this wreck that he found and identified
- The USS Moody– I posted a “teaser” about this project a few days ago
- Unidentified “Border Yacht” – We also want to identify this vessel in 2023
I’m hopeful that 2023 will be my biggest dive year yet.
First and foremost, a huge amount of gratitude and thanks to my wife. She puts up with my incessant talk of diving and my borderline obsessive focus on diving and finding new sites and diving deep wrecks.
I’d also like to thank Tyler Stalter for not only being a good “dive buddy” but also research partner and for always coming up with new targets to try and sites to visit. We make a great team and complement each other’s skill sets.
I’ve had the pleasure to dive with numerous people this year: John Entwistle, Aron Arngrimsson, James Draker, Matt Boyle, Richard Barnden, Jakub Slama, Antti Apunen, Lauren Martin, Drew Wilson, Anton Kozhevnikov, DJ Mansfield, Chris Koerner, Santiago Polo, Jack Wang, and Hailey Hawkins. I’m sure I missed a few others as well.
Thanks to Steve Lawson and Chris Gilmartin for taking me out on their boat on a few diving adventures this past year. I got to dive the Hellcat and we recently found a unidentified barge.
Thanks to Lora, Chris, Rod, Captain & Scout at Marissa Charters for all the dives we had together in San Diego. It is always fun & laughs while diving with them.
Thanks to Ray and Kyaa at Sundiver. We had some great dives this year, found some new wrecks, and have even more epic plans for 2023.
One thought on “2022 Top 10 Dives & Projects”
Great stuff, Brett–thanks for all your hard working in documenting these wrecks in photogrammetry! Look forward to more in 2023.