Bikini Dive Sites
The Marshall Islands diving is absolutely unique. This is the only place worldwide where divers can explore shipwrecks that were sunk by atomic bombs at Bikini Atoll.
The Bikini dive sites of the Marshall Islands are utterly unique in the world with a fascinating historical significance.
In 1946 Bikini’s inhabitants were moved to another atoll. The move was to enable conducting of explosives testing for the newly developed atomic bomb. The trial was on a huge scale during the post-war years under Operation Crossroads.
Between 1946 and 58; 67 nuclear weapons in total were detonated on a mock naval fleet. The formation of the simulated fleet was by utilising surrendered and damaged vessels from World War II.
Tourism began in 1996 when Bikini Atoll was opened to the public for divers to experience some of the most historic wrecks in history.
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Bikini Dive Sites - 1 LIVEABOARDS
The unique shipwrecks of Bikini Atoll were created by the ‘mock’ naval fleet being created for nuclear weapons testing on a large fleet. Not less than 23 atomic bombs have been tested in the area between 1946 and 1958 under the Operation Crossroads framework and several other codenames.
This includes the infamous March 1954 Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb 1000 times more powerful than that used at Hiroshima. This left a crater 2km wide and 76m deep.
Bikini Atoll Highlights
USS Saratoga is the most famous dive in the atoll. The Saratoga is the only aircraft carrier that is within diveable limits.
Resting between 52 and 18m of depth the 270m vessel sitting upright is likely to be the largest wreck you will ever dive on, only 10% of the wreck has been explored so far, no diver has entered the engine room as yet.
The Saratoga was considered too old and had suffered damage during the war years so was assigned to target duty for atomic testing in Bikini, she survived the first blast but sank due to the 25th of July underwater test.
Her bridge is within easy reach at 18 metres depth, the flight deck at 28 metres, and the hanger is at 32m where the Helldivers can be clearly seen in great detail.
Nagato is a Japanese battleship that was the first to have 16-inch guns to her hull. The 221m vessel was surrendered after the war ended and was in a bad state of repair. In 1946 she was taken to Bikini for Operation Crossroads and sank in July. She lies capsized at 48-50m of depth with the bridge area at 45m.
As one of the most versatile war vessels during her time and was the flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Pearl Harbour attack.
USS Arkansas was an American dreadnought and is 171m in length. She was capsized at 55m of depth in nuclear test Baker in 1946. Having served in both world wars previously, she still has the AA and 12-inch guns visible and the hull shows ‘rippling’ from the force of the blast.
The dive is on the port side as she lies on her starboard, the propeller shafts are visible as are two submarines, one in pristine condition. Other items include torpedo tubes, two destroyers, two attack vessels, a Japanese cruiser and depth charges.
USS Pilotfish is a Lalao-class submarine, 95m in length sunk by the Baker underwater bomb test in 1946. The bomb compressed the hull and forced open the valves causing her to sink.
She took part in the Japanese formal surrender ceremonies in Tokyo before being decommissioned.
USS Lamson is a 104m American destroyer ship, upright at 55m of depth with the average of 48m. One of the smaller wrecks, she is interesting as she has several guns, torpedoes, bombs and usually has excellent visibility. She arrived in Bikini in May 1946 and sank 2nd of July due to test Able.
Prinz Eugen is a German cruiser that was surrendered to the allies at the end of the war, she survived Operation Crossroads tests Able and Baker. She was intensely radioactive so was towed to Kwajalein where she capsized and sank in December 1946.
Part of her is still visible above the water line, her port propeller was salvaged and is at the German Naval Memorial at Laboe. Her Bell was also removed and is at the Naval Museum in Washington DC.
The bow is at 35m, and she is rotated to the port side with the props out of the water, her bridge is in the sand, and there are many penetration points.
USS Anderson is a destroyer of 106m in length which was sunk with atomic bomb Able on July 1st, 1946.
USS Apogon is a submarine of the Balao-class and is lying intact at 48m upright. Her props are covered in red encrusting sponges and the torpedo tubes at the stern are visible. The bridge has viewing binoculars, and the viewing tower is in one piece. She was sunk by atomic test bomb Baker on the 25th of July 1946.
USS Carlisle was an attack boat of 130m now resting at 51m with her decks at 40m. She arrived late to the war and saw no military action only used as a transport vessel. There is extensive damage to the starboard hull from the test bomb on 1st of July 1946.
Sakawa was a Japanese light cruiser of 162m in length armed with only second-hand guns, she was surrendered in 1945 and used for the atomic tests Able and Baker in 1946.
She suffered massive damage and was only finally identified in 1992 as was squashed flat almost.
Able caused her massive damage on the flimsy hull, then Baker 24 days later was detonated and finished the devastation.
She sits upright listing to the port. Baker caused further damage to the bridge which is now to the side in mud, leaving only the turrets in place.
Over the years, a small number of people outside of the Marshall Islands have seen this form of commercialism on Bikini Atoll as something negative. It should be understood that the islanders themselves decided to open the atoll for tourism. When you go to Bikini, you don't just go diving, fishing and sunbathing. You get a history lesson.
Over the course of the visit, there will be documentaries shown about the history of the area. Each wreck will be described in detail during the briefing with the roles they played. Guests will have a tour of the island and the atoll. The Bikinians feel this to be important because this allows their story to be taken away by tourists and retold to their families and friends. In short, the tourism program helps perpetuate a story the islanders never want to see go away, ever.
Marine Park and Conservation in Bikini
Bikini does have dive permit and port fees, payable on board the boat