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New Jersey Scuba Diving

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New Jersey Scuba Diving

Warships

A number of small warships are sunk in New Jersey and New York waters.

World War II subchaser ( model )
A World War II subchaser ( model )

A subchaser was a small coastal patrol vessel of World War I or II. Subchasers were lightly armed and even more lightly constructed, mostly out of plywood, powered by two diesel (WWII) or three gasoline (WWI) engines. Roughly the same design was used in both wars - 110 ft long, about 100 tons. Almost a thousand were built over both World Wars, and several are lost in the waters around this area. Many private yachts and some larger fishing trawlers were converted to perform this function also, like the Tarantula and the Moonstone. Conversely, some subchasers were converted to other duties after the war, such as the Bronx Queen, pictured below in military trim. Real subchasers were designated SC- , while converted yachts were designated SP-, PY- ( patrol yacht ) or PYc ( patrol yacht - coastal. )

WW I submarine chasers
WW I submarine chasers

WW I submarine chasers

WW I submarine chasers
Subchasers under construction, 1917 - typical wood plank-over-frame

WW I submarine chaser
World War I
WW II submarine chaser
World War II

Shipwreck Bronx Queen
Bronx Queen - WWII SC-635 - later converted to a charter boat.

Shipwreck Tarantula
Tarantula - a yacht converted to a patrol boat - 129 ft, 160 tons

Vessels like this were too small and short-ranged to be truly ocean-going warships. Instead, they performed coastal patrol and escort duties, freeing larger and more capable vessels for trans-Atlantic convoy escort and combat overseas. They were crewed mostly by reservists

As the name indicates, a subchaser's main duty was to hunt prowling enemy submarines - the only type of enemy they were ever likely to encounter in home waters. In the Pacific theatre, a subchaser is credited with sinking a Japanese submarine, but their main function was as deterrents and annoyances to submerged submarines, although on the surface a U-boat could both outrun and outgun a subchaser.

Subchasers also performed a great deal of search and rescue, and some were taken overseas, where their maneuverability and shallow draft made them useful as support craft in amphibious landings. The famous PT boats of WWII were smaller-still, much too small to be useful in the stormy northern oceans.

Several subchasers are sunk in area waters: from World War I, the SC-60 and SC-209, which have never been found and probably never will be, and from World War II, the SC-635 Bronx Queen lies directly below the shipping lane at the mouth of New York Harbor. Converted patrol yachts Tarantula and Moonstone are popular deep dives. The Ida K was another subchaser turned fishing boat, SC-1282.

subchaser
The wooden construction is obvious here

Splinter Fleet


Shipwreck USS Turner
USS Turner DD-648 - a World War II destroyer - 350 ft, 1700 tons, 35 knots

While the battleship got all the glory in the gun-navy, the real backbone of the fleet was the destroyer. Fast, maneuverable, heavily armed for their size, but virtually unarmored, "tin can" destroyers performed tasks ranging from anti-submarine and anti-aircraft escort to radar picket, fast transport, and search and rescue. They also performed dangerous close-in shore bombardments during every major amphibious landing, during which several were damaged by return fire from shore batteries.

Shipwreck USS Solar
World War II-era destroyer escort USS Solar - 306 ft, 1400 tons, 24 knots
Note the open gun positions, compared to the enclosed turrets on the Turner above.

Destroyer escorts were a cheaper alternative to destroyers. Smaller, slower, and more lightly armed than destroyers, they could be constructed much faster, and saw heavy use as convoy escorts. One obvious visible difference is the lack of enclosed gun turrets. Only one "DE" is sunk in our waters, the USS Solar, and you can't dive it. Destroyer Escorts were built to military standards, as opposed to the Patrol Frigate, a coastal vessel that was somewhat smaller and more lightly armed, but could be acquired faster because it was built to civilian standards.

In the modern navy, the destroyer has become the main class of surface combatant, equal in size and power to the cruisers of old. In fact, the latest class of Navy cruiser is built on a destroyer hull, the difference being only in weapons fit and mission. The destroyer escort evolved into the modern fast frigate - still a cheaper alternative to the destroyer, although considerably larger and more capable than their forebears. And like their forebears, modern frigates and destroyers go in harm's way more than any other navy ships.

USS Arleigh Burke
Guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke DDG-67 - 505 ft, 8,889 tons, 35+ knots

USS Stark
Guided missile frigate USS Stark FFG-31 - 445 ft, 4,100 tons, 28 knots
Shown after being struck by two Iraqi anti-ship missiles in 1987.

There are four US Navy destroyers and one destroyer escort in the region:

USS Baldwin aground
USS Baldwin, aground at Montauk Point, 1961

Several old wooden sailing warships and the pre- World War I armored cruiser USS San Diego are also sunk in our waters, as well as a number of submarines. Artificial reef USS Algol also had a long military career, and several small Coast Guard vessels have been sunk as reefs. See also: Wartime Losses.


Some preserved warships in the region that are open to the public:

USS New Jersey museum ship
While you're at the aquarium, don't forget to visit the USS New Jersey, right next door.

USS Olympia museum ship
There is ferry service across the river to the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, where you can tour the USS Olympia, contemporary of the San Diego.
From Penn's Landing it is just a few blocks to the historic area.

USS Intrepid museum ship
The USS Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in Manhattan is a fascinating place to visit.


Navy Yippie boats
These Navy "Yippie" (YP) boats are a common summer sight.
They are used to train cadets in boat handling and seamanship, and are
usually found in groups of four or more, executing synchronized maneuvers.

Navy Yippie boats


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Disclaimer:

I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.

Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted

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