Hurricane pushed shipwreck just beyond reach of many

By Rebekah Allen

For many scuba divers, the thrill of visiting the sunken aircraft carrier Oriskany is touching the flight deck.

But Hurricane Gustav pushed the wreck deeper, putting the deck just out of safe reach of recreational divers and threatening the appeal of the underwater tourist attraction.

When the ship was sunk in May 2006, the flight deck was 135 feet down, 5 feet outside the recreational diving limit, but instructors said it still was relatively safe for tempted divers to make the touch.

"People just had to touch it," said Eilene Beard, Scuba Shack co-owner. "And we'd say, 'OK, bounce down there and touch it and get back up here so you don't use all your nitrogen.' "

But after Hurricane Gustav pushed through the Gulf of Mexico, the sunken ship shifted about 10 feet deeper.

To an untrained diver, 10 feet may seem insignificant, but instructors fear the drop could affect the appeal and safety of the local attraction.


Gulf of Mexico Hurricane Gustav Eilene Beard sunken aircraft carrier Oriskany Scuba Shack