Crystal Coast Diving Locations
Diving along the Crystal Coast
Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks are not the only convenient launching points for wreck diving. The beaches of the Crystal Coast offer equally enticing charters to a number of wrecks that have fallen victim to the shoals off North Carolina. Crystal Coast divers can easily experience the beauty and history of sunken ships, interact with large marine life such as Atlantic sand tiger sharks, sting rays, dolphins and A HREF="http://www.ncbeaches.com/Features/Sealife/SeaTurtles/">sea turtles , and enjoy the exotic fish of the warm Gulf Stream waters. Photographic and video prospects abound with vast aquatic life and colorful corals found on and around the wrecks.
For divers interested in wreck diving on the Crystal Coast or who just want to scope out the marine life that call these wrecks home, there are a number of different shipwrecks to explore.
- Papoose: A 412' tanker pressed into military service during WWII, the Papoose was torpedoed and sunk on March 18, 1942 by the U-124. Today, it rests upside down in approx. 130' of water with relief upwards of 100'. This site is a favorite of sand tigers and Indo-Pacific lionfish. Recent speculation has many divers wondering whether the Papoose is really the Hutton, and vice versa.
- Hutton: The W.E. Hutton, 465' long, was another tanker pressed into military service. It too was sunk by the U-124 on March 18, 1942. This wreck lies inshore in approx. 60-70' of water.
- Suloide: The Suloide ran aground on the wreckage of the Hutton in 1943 and currently lies inshore in 65' of water.
- CaribeSea: American freighter torpedoed and sunk by the U-158. Lies in approx. 80' of water and is home to a large population of sand tiger sharks.
- U-352: 218' intact German submarine sunk on May 9, 1942 by USCG Cutter Icarus. Currently lying in 113' of water, the U-352 is one of the premier diving spots of the Crystal Coast.
- Schurz: Originally named the Geier, the ship was a 255' steel-hulled cruiser for the German Navy. The Geier was at one point interned in Hawaii for 3 years until 1917, at which time the United States entered World War I. At that point, the United States seized the Geier, renamed her the Schurz, and re-outfitted her for the Navy. She collided with the SS Florida in June of 1918. This wreck at times is covered by so many bait fish that a diver can actually lose himself inside a bait ball. With so many bait fish around, grouper and amberjack (spear fishing favorites) are always close by. Many rounds of 30 caliber ammunition have also been recovered from this site, however now there are laws that prohibit taking any artifacts from any U.S. Naval warship.
- Aeolus: a 409' tanker sunk in 1988 as an artificial reef, the Aeolus now lies in three pieces due to hurricanes in 1996. This wreck has a good deal of relief, and also offers frequent encounters with sand tigers. The Aeolus is also a favorite of spear fishermen, as abundant numbers of grouper and flounder make it an easy place to fill your fish bag. However, the presence of sharks patrolling for a free lunch require a bit of caution on the diver's part. This wreck is also an ideal starting place for those interested in learning penetration diving with a certified instructor.
- Spar: A former USCG buoy tender sunk as an artificial reef, the Spar lies just 400' from the Aeolus. She is upright and fully intact, and is entering her third season as an underwater home for new marine life. Sea urchins abound on this wreck, so be careful with those hands! This is also another good wreck for learning penetration diving with a certified instructor.
- Naeco: The Naeco was a 428' tanker torpedoed and sunk by the U-124 on March 23, 1942. She sank in two sections, bow and stern, a couple miles apart. This wreck has a large variety of tropical fish, schools of bait fish, pompano, amberjack, grouper, sand tigers, and was the first wreck to see the Indo-Pacific lionfish make an appearance. While the stern section has the highest relief, parts of this wreck exceed the recreational diving limits. Diving the wreck requires near-perfect sea conditions due to the distance offshore.