USS Saratoga (CV-3) “The Wall” Photogrammetry Model

This will be a short, but very useful post for anybody who is planning to dive the interior of the USS Saratoga (CV-3) in Bikini Atoll. I was recently on a dive trip to Bikini Atoll with The Dirty Dozen Expedition group and spent a lot of time working on three different photogrammetry projects. The great thing about diving with the Dirty Dozen is that you are diving with experienced divers and you can work on interesting projects and not “do the same old thing.”

For quite some time, the guides on the Master Liveaboards have used a photo to indicate where to enter the wreck to visit various locations (two versions are provided below). The photo isn’t great since it has to be taken from very far away to get the whole wall into a single photo. The entrance to most interior spaces in the wreck is in the forward elevator shaft and the “wall” is the wall at the starboard side.

The diagram below indicates the location of three main points: (1) The “normal” location of the bow downline, (2) A tower on the deck that was used for instrumentation for the atomic test which is where most people will drop any “extra” bailout tanks that can’t be used at depth, and (3) the location of the forward elevator shaft that is used for entry into most of the interior spaces.

A typical deck plan for the Saratoga will look like the diagram below. In this case, it is for the “Main Deck” which is right below the flight deck. The typical sights on this deck include the Captains Quarters, the Combat Information Center, and the Admirals Quarters. These are labeled on the wall diagram as well.

They usually have large, full-size printed versions on the boat which are easier to read. In the above diagram, you can see that it is the main deck (lower right rectangle) and I’ve also put a rectangle around the Forward Elevator area to the far left. At the top is the Captains Area, below that is the Combat Information Center (CIC) and towards the bow from the CIC is the Admiral’s Area (Pantry, Washroom, Sleeping, etc.).

The previous versions of the “wall” entry diagram looked like the following:

Even in large format, it is a bit hard to really identify which entry point to use. I spent part of a dive in the Machine Shop and, since I was in the general area, took a bunch of photos in an attempt to build a photogrammetry model of “the wall.” Considering that it was a bit of a “hack job,” I think it actually came out pretty well.

If you do enter the Saratoga, please ensure you are trained to do so. There are lines on many of the routes but the wreck is collapsing and it is still easy to get lost if you aren’t familiar with wreck penetration.

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