email email@example.com Divequest 2008–2009 137
BIKINI ATOLL, atmosphere was detonated and a ﬁreball
of intense heat measuring millions of
degrees shot into the sky at over 300
MARSHALL ISLANDS miles per hour. Millions of tons of coral,
sand, sea-life and sea water from the
lagoon were sent high into the air. Today
An awesome ‘Ghost Armada’ the Bikinians still wait to return to their
island home, but the soil remains full of
toxins and it is still not possible for them
to eat the coconuts and coconut crabs
that used to feature in their diet.
For the wreck diver, the devastating Able
and Baker bombs achieved something
positive. Bikini is simply the ﬁnest and
best – the ultimate in wreck diving.
Unlike Truk, this is a ﬂeet of ﬁghting
vessels, not freighters. These boats were
armed and ready for action at the instant
of the sea’s ﬁnal embrace.
Fifty years after the ﬁrst bomb Bikini was
declared safe for visitors and May 1996
saw the ﬁrst divers visiting the island.
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
The diving is deep, some of the wrecks
are below the recognized recreational
limits, and stage decompression can be
expected, but only air is used to dive
and Nitrox is used for decompression
purposes. The sea bed within the lagoon
is at 56 metres and dives in the morning
are usually to depths of between 30
and 40 metres, but increase throughout
the week so that it should be possible
to descend to 52 metres for a full dive
on the stern of USS Saratoga (subject
to local conditions). Subject to divers’
USS Apogon (Rico Oldﬁeld) proﬁles, shallower afternoon dives may
be available. None of the wrecks have
been salvaged. They lie as they sank,
complete with all that ﬂoated through
Season: March-November The 167 Bikini Island residents had been the sea with them on their last journey,
Visibility: 25-50 metres moved out by March 1945 in preparation creating the world’s most amazing wreck
Water temperature: 27-29°C for Operation Crossroads (they are yet diving.
to move back) and between 1946 and
Bikini Atoll, just about as isolated a 1958 America’s army and navy tested USS Saratoga, launched in 1925 was,
place as it is possible to be, is one of 29 atomic and hydrogen bombs following at the time of her sinking, one of the
atolls and ﬁve islands that comprise the a directive from President Harry S. world’s biggest aircraft carriers, longer
Marshall Islands, which are scattered Truman indicating that it was necessary than the Titanic. She had been hit by ﬁve
over 357,000 square miles of the Paciﬁc “to determine the effect of atomic bombs kamikaze attacks and had seen action
Ocean, north of the equator. Seriously on American warships”. The ﬁrst bomb in WWII throughout the Paciﬁc. As the
remote, and with some seriously missed the target ship by half a mile world’s only diveable aircraft carrier, she
incredible wrecks, this holy grail for and sank only vessels within a hundred holds the limelight as the star of Bikini.
wreck divers is well worth the effort. metres. The second bomb exploded 25 With over 1000 watertight compartments
There is simply nothing to match it, metres below the surface and was far and in spite of being moored a mere
anywhere in the world. more destructive, sending two million 300 metres from the Baker blast, it took
tons of water over a mile high. Many over 8 hours for her to sink. She now
By 1946 the Americans had amassed an more vessels sank. Others were scuttled sits upright on the seabed at 40 metres.
incredible assortment of vessels in Bikini in deep water, and the biggest ghost ﬂeet Saratoga is enormous and divers will
Atoll: submarines, landing craft, a WWI in the world was formed. More than half normally carry out their ﬁrst, check-
Dreadnought Battleship, a German battle- the world’s supply of motion picture ﬁlm out dive to inspect the ﬂight deck
cruiser, the battleship Nagato (Japanese was used to record the two bombs, Able and bridge, 25 metres above the sea
Admiral Yamamoto’s ﬂagship) and the and Baker, and the exile of the Bikini bed. Throughout the week divers will
immense USS Saratoga (an aircraft carrier people. gradually explore deeper levels including
with the capacity to carry 90 aircraft). the aircraft hanger deck (where you can
Eighty four vessels were gathered to form More was to come. In 1954 the biggest explore three ‘Helldiver’ single-engine
this impressive but doomed ﬂeet. nuclear device ever exploded in the dive bombers and an ‘Avenger’ torpedo
138 Divequest 2008–2009 For reservations or enquiries call 01254 826322
bomber), the torpedo room (with rows of to the bottom by Baker. It took four days learn is all that is needed.
500 pound bombs), the bow and storage for her to sink.
quarters and eventually, the stern on the There is no rental diving equipment
sea bed at 52 metres. USS Anderson is a 349-foot destroyer available (other than computers suitable
which now lies on her side in 50 metres for decompression diving) and the
USS Lamson, a 341-foot destroyer, was of water. She saw active service in the following is a list of recommended
capable of 36.5 knots and was armed Paciﬁc, having acted as a screen for equipment in addition to mask, ﬁns,
with ﬁve 5-inch guns, three 21-inch battleships at the Battle of the Coral Sea gloves and boots: • Primary regulator
torpedo tubes and four 50-calibre and at Midway. She was damaged by – ﬁrst stage, low pressure hose, second
machine guns. She now sits upright on grounding on a coral reef and was sent stage, BC inﬂator hose, high pressure
the seabed at around 50 metres, having to Pearl Harbour for repair, but ended hose, submersible pressure gauge
been sunk on to her side by Able, and her days as one of the few ships sunk by • Secondary regulator: ﬁrst stage,
turned upright by the Baker blast. During Able. low pressure hose, second stage •
her active life, USS Lamson spent a BC/harness: back inﬂation preferred•
month searching for Amelia Earhart after On the last day there will be a trip to Snorkel if desired (not used for the
she vanished on her trans-Paciﬁc ﬂight Bikini’s Shark Pass where a remarkable deep dives) • Wet suit: 3 mm or 5 mm
and saw active service at the battle of population of sharks, including Grey and a hood • Primary light • Back-
Guadalcanal. With her impressive array Reef and Silvertip, can be found where up light (bring two if you are going to
of guns and torpedoes, this is a very the lagoon opens into the Paciﬁc. The do extensive penetrations – only for
photogenic wreck and a great favourite sharks are protected from the ravages of qualiﬁed divers) • Cutting tool • Dive-
with underwater photographers. Though shark-ﬁnning ﬂeets as the boats ceased Alert and safety marker buoy (sausage
her superstructure is badly damaged, coming to this area after the crew of one style – can be substituted by a lift bag)
the lines of the destroyer are still plain boat was killed by the nuclear fallout in • Dive computer (few computers are
to see. The ghostly outline appears to be 1954. suitable for decompression diving: please
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
steaming along the sea bed, guns ready check with us if you are uncertain) •
for action. Back up dive computer/ depth gauge and
DIVING NOTES tables • Safety reel and lift bag.
USS Apogon is a 311-foot Balao class
submarine, which carried a crew of 6 Bikini’s remote site is served only once a On Bikini they provide twin steel tanks
ofﬁcers and 60 enlisted men. In active week by a commuter ﬂight and therefore with isolation manifolds and the tank
service Apogon sank two Japanese strict weight restrictions apply. The free bands in place. They also have single 15
vessels, three were unconﬁrmed baggage allowance on the ﬂight is only litre tanks with an H-valve for those who
‘sinkings’ and she caused damage to two 30 pounds with an excess charge of do not have BCs suited for double tank
others. At one stage she was on sentry US $1.50 per pound (subject to space setups. Either setup is acceptable.
duty outside Truk Lagoon. She was armed availability).
with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, one There is no decompression chamber
5-inch deck gun and anti-aircraft guns. Before each dive a full brieﬁng gives on Bikini. The nearest chamber is at
Unaffected by Able, Baker succeeded in divers the vessel’s history and unique Kwajalein.
sinking her, and she now rests upright on characteristics. A very comprehensive
the seabed in 54 metres, looking for all dive plan is delivered. On the ascent Divers visiting Bikini are required to have
the world as if she is ready to lift off and divers normally make a stop at 25 a medical evaluation by their own doctor
continue her journey once again. Her metres, and another at 15 metres. A and are also required to read a copy of
hatches are closed. The aft torpedoes are three level decompression trapeze W L Robinson’s radiological status report
loaded and primed ready for use. It is is attached to the dive boat offering (which we will supply).
possible to enter the hull. As one of the stages at 9, 6 and 3 metes. Nitrox is
deeper dives, Apogon is usually dived supplied to divers at these stages to
towards the end of the week. enhance decompression. The maximum
depth of dives is 53 metres. Divers do BIKINI ATOLL DIVERS
HIJMS Nagato, a Japanese battleship, not need to be ‘tech’ divers to dive
was once the pride of the Japanese Fleet Bikini’s wrecks, but a minimum of 50 Up to 11 divers can be accommodated
and Admiral Yamamoto’s ﬂagship and dives is recommended so that you in basic but comfortable air-conditioned
played her part in the attack on Pearl are comfortable with buoyancy and rooms (there are some rooms with ceiling
Harbour. On her bridge the plans for ascent rate control. IANTD courses fans) with en-suite bathrooms. There is
the attack were developed by Admiral are available on the island: Advanced 24 hour electricity and hot water. Buffet-
Yamamoto. From here the orders were Nitrox, Technical Diver, EANx Wreck style meals are offered for breakfast,
sent forward for the attack that caught Diver (Wreck Penetrations) and Nitrox lunch and dinner. All food is imported
Pearl Harbour unawares. Nagato was Blender courses are available. For those from Hawaii, California or New Zealand.
armed with eight 45-calibre guns, twenty who wish to extensively penetrate the Water is made in the reverse osmosis
50-calibre guns, three machine guns, wrecks, it is essential that you have a plant. There is a pool table, table tennis
eight torpedo tubes and four anti-aircraft cave diver qualiﬁcation. We can make table, a weights room and a large screen
guns. She was launched in 1919 and arrangements for you to book on weeks TV video room plus a DVD player.
rebuilt around 1935. She saw active that have the same skill level.
service at the Battle of Midway and Leyte Bikini Atoll Divers offer 7 nights
Gulf. She now lies upside down with the Advanced Open Water divers with no packages commencing every Wednesday
infamous bridge on the seabed by the previous knowledge of technical diving from March to November.
side of the main superstructure. She lies or decompression have dived Bikini and
in 51 metres of water, having been sent really enjoyed their trip. A willingness to £1536 (non-divers: £885)
email firstname.lastname@example.org Divequest 2008–2009 139
Includes: £1678 for departures March to April to Bikini Atoll into perspective. Pearl
• Airport transfers in Bikini. (excluding Easter), November Harbour is home to the battleship USS
• 7 nights full board (breakfast, lunch £1824 for departures May to June, Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial.
and dinner) on a twin/share basis at September to October It was on board the 01 veranda deck
Bikini Atoll. £1846 for departures at Easter of the Missouri that General Douglas
• 12 decompression dives, dive guide, £1924 for departures early July, late MacArthur and Fleet Admiral Chester
cylinders and weights, air ﬁlls and deco August Nimitz, along with other US and
Nitrox. £1992 for departures mid-July to mid- Allied ofﬁcers, accepted the formal and
August unconditional surrender of the Japanese
Important: Single occupancy is not in 1945. Walk around the decks and
available at Bikini and divers travelling Weekend Supplement: £10 each way for superstructure and you will soon begin
alone must book on a willing to share departures from London or Honolulu on to realize the scale of the underwater
basis. Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. treasures awaiting you in Bikini. The
USS Arizona is the ﬁnal resting place for
Group Reductions: There is a reduction Includes: many of the ship’s 1,177 crewmen who
of £182 per person for a group of 8 • Scheduled ﬂights London (Heathrow)/ lost their lives on 7th December 1941
divers and a reduction of £339 per Los Angeles/London (Heathrow) by when at 0810 she exploded, having been
person for a group of 11 divers (plus a United Airlines. hit by a 1,760 pound armour-piercing
free place for a 12th diver). • Scheduled ﬂights Honolulu/Majuro/ bomb that slammed through her deck
Honolulu by Continental Micronesia and ignited the forward ammunition
Deposit: £300 per person Airlines. magazine. It took less than 9 minutes
• Scheduled ﬂights Majuro/Bikini/Majuro for this huge battleship to sink with
by Air Marshall Islands. the tragic loss of so many seamen. The
56-metre memorial structure spans the
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
FLIGHTS Sample Itinerary (including 1 night mid-portion of the sunken battleship and
Honolulu, 1 night Majuro and 7 nights consists of three main sections: the entry
The airfares shown here were typical Bikini) and assembly rooms, a central area and
economy fares available at the time of Day 1 (Sunday): Depart London the shrine room, where the names of
going to press. We will quote you the (Heathrow) in the afternoon. Arrive those killed on the Arizona are engraved
airfare applicable, based on current fare Honolulu in the evening. Stay overnight. in marble. A shuttle bus to Pearl Harbour
levels and booking class availability, Day 2 (Monday): Depart Honolulu in is available from Best Western The Plaza
at the time of booking. Our quote, the morning. Day 3 (Tuesday): Arrive Hotel at a cost of US$5.
which will include all taxes and fuel Majuro in the morning, after having
supplements applicable at the time of crossed the International Dateline. Stay
quotation, as well as our service charge, overnight. Day 4 (Wednesday): Depart OVERNIGHTS IN MAJURO
may be higher or lower than the airfares Majuro in the morning. Arrive Bikini
indicated here. The usual airfare deposit in the afternoon. Afternoon check out The Marshall Islands Resort is a pleasant
is £250. dive. Days 5-10 (Thursday-Tuesday): ‘island style’ hotel with air-conditioned
Six days diving in Bikini Atoll. Day rooms with en-suite bathrooms,
11 (Wednesday): Depart Bikini in restaurant and bar. Transfers from the
UNITED AIRLINES the afternoon. Arrive Honolulu early airport are included. The cost is £33 per
the same day, having re-crossed the night on a twin/share, room-only basis.
Midday departure on United Airlines International Dateline. Depart Honolulu A single occupancy supplement of £30
from London (Heathrow) on Sunday, that same morning. Day 12 (Thursday). per night applies.
arriving in Honolulu in the evening, Midday arrival at London (Heathrow).
after a change of aircraft in Los Angeles.
After an overnight stay in Honolulu COMBINING BIKINI WITH TRUK
depart on Monday morning for OVERNIGHTS IN HONOLULU
Majuro, arriving on Tuesday morning Why not extend your holiday in Bikini
(after having crossed the International We can reserve rooms at the Atoll with a visit to Truk Lagoon.
Dateline) for an overnight stay. Best Western The Plaza Hotel for Explore Truk’s fascinating wrecks for
Wednesday morning ﬂight from Majuro approximately £45 per person per night, the wreck treat of a lifetime. Following
arriving in Bikini in the afternoon. payable locally in US$, on a twin/share, a Wednesday departure from Bikini
Return ﬂights leave Bikini via Majuro room-only basis. The single occupancy and an overnight stay in Majuro, the
on Wednesday afternoons, arriving in rate is double. The hotel is very ﬂight departs from Majuro on Thursday
Honolulu very early the same day (after conveniently situated at the entrance to morning and arrives in Truk in the
re-crossing the International Dateline!) Honolulu International Airport and has afternoon. Return ﬂights depart from
in time to connect with a Wednesday a free shuttle bust service. Truk on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday
morning ﬂight to London (Heathrow), morning and arrive in Honolulu, via
arriving at midday on Thursday. Majuro, early the same day (after you
HONOLULU STOP-OVERS: PEARL re-cross the International Dateline)
Concessionary rates are available for HARBOUR, THE USS ARIZONA in time to connect with a Monday,
connecting ﬂights between Leeds/ MEMORIAL AND THE BATTLESHIP Wednesday or Friday morning ﬂight to
Bradford, Manchester, Teesside, USS MISSOURI London (Heathrow), arriving at midday
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and the following day. Contact us for cost
London. Please contact our ofﬁce for A day in Honolulu and a visit to Pearl and itinerary details, which depend on
details. Harbour will help to put your visit length of stay in Truk.