WILKES BARRE the "LETHAL LADY"
April 2002 expedition
Cleveland class Light Cruiser:
Displacement: 10,000 tons
Speed: 33 knots
Armament: 12 6"/47, 12 5"/38, 3 planes
Geared turbines, four screws; 100,000 shaft h.p.
Built at Camden and commissioned 1 July 1944
About half hour in boat from Cudjoe Key, lies the wreck USS Wilkes Barre, CL-103 with the nickname of "Lethal Lady" at a depth up to 250 fsw. A huge US warship with 610 feet long and 10,000 Ton, she lie in two pieces on the deep ocean floor, visited only for marine life like big pompanos, barracudas, giant jewfishes, sharks and many others.
On December 24, 1943 the Wilkes Barre was commissioned in the Camden, New Jersey, shipyards. It took only a year to build and launch this Cleveland-class light cruiser. Upon its christening, the ship that soon set sail from the new york Shipbuilding Company's yard was anything but defenseless.
On October 9, 1947, after serve in a lot of places, the USS Wilkes Barre was decommissioned and put in mothballs in Philadelphia, never to see active in service again.
On May 12, 1972, on an underwater explosive test, after the charge was set off, the Wilkes Barre split in two, breaking apart between the twin stacks and superstructures. The explosives had done their job, but the ship was not ready to sink. The Stern section finally sank at 10 pm that same night, landing in the upright position on 250 fsw. Took a second round of explosives the following morning to do likewise with the bow half, which finally came to rest on the ocean floor on its starboard side. In the process of sinking, a large gun turret was torn off, which now lies about 50 feet off the starboard side of the bow.
Now it is a very good fishing place, the wreck is covered by old fishing nets and monofilament lines occasionally visited by experienced technical divers and marine life, the USS Wilkes Barre rest on the solitary deep ocean floor, some time flushed by strong currents, she is there, waiting to be explored.
Can take a life to explore this wreck, lot of people was doing that for years, beginning with air, then adding Oxygen for deco, now using trimix, but, there still lot of places to be reached and explored, not facilitate for the depth and all the technical difficulties associate to it.
(Bow) Lat 24 29.094N Lon 081 33.202W
(Stern) Lat 24 29.069N Lon 081 33.138W
Depth 250' / 76m - Length 610' / 185m
The dives we did here, on the Stern side, was around 20 minutes Bottom Time, for more info look at the links at the end of the page.
Photos -Click for bigger- then move it wherever you want, click on the X to close the picture
More Information about the dive, and more pictures:
Special thanks to Lesley, JR and Jim for the pictures from the other side of my camera.... this time I'm on the photos.....!!!!!!
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