USS New York ARC-2/ USS Saratoga / USS Rochester
Type of Site: Ship wreck
Depth range: 18 to 28 meters ( See Technical Note)
Length: 117 meters
Skill Levels: Advance, Photography, Wreck diver, Deep diver, Technical Diver, Technical Wreck Diver
Current: Generally calm, some mild current at tide change
Visibility: 5-20 meters subject to rapidly changing conditions
Average Dive Time Recreational Diver: 30-45 minutes
Mooring Line: Attached to hull, aft of rear boarding ladder
Overall Rating *****
USS New York ( ACR-2, aka USS Rochester) is one of the most exciting and versatile shipwreck dive sites in Asia. Often found on list of the top wreck dive sites in the world, she attracts divers from all over the world. The first armored cruiser of the United States Navy she served from 1893 to 1931. Upon her “retirement” she was docked at Subic Bay where she provided a number of support services until the outbreak of WWII. She was scuttled in December 1941 to prevent capture by the Japanese. The USS New York lies on its side in 28 meters of water. The New York has a beam of 19.8 meters, however, Almost a half of the wreck has sunk into the sand leaving the starboard side in 18 meters of water. She is in the inner harbor area of Subic Bay which is about a 15 minute boat ride.
The USS New York is as impressive today as she was back when she was the flagship of the U.S. Fleet that defeated Spain’s Caribbean fleet in 1898. From a diver’s viewpoint, The site will allow the diver a nice look at an historical wreck and she presents a wide range of challenges. Her length and positioning creates opportunities for all skill levels beyond Open Water Divers (OWD).
Most first time divers on the ship follow a route that includes the guns. Descending the mooring line, divers arrive at the wreck on the upper section of the starboard hull at about 14 meters in depth. The point is slightly aft of the rearward boarding ladder. Moving aft, divers stay along the hull until they approach the gun turret. They can then drop a few more meters and examine the 8 inch guns which are at 24 -28 meters. Leaving the guns, they can travel forward maintaining the depth and explore the deck space. At the agreed bottom time or remaining air, diver ascend to the hull and follow it back to the mooring line. At 117 meters long and being underwater for more than 70 years, the coral and other marine growth along the hull is outstanding. Many divers will use an entire dive exploring the hull.
Repeat dive will often include a visit to the propeller as they visit the ship. Starting the same as the previous dive mentioned, the diver will follow the curvature of the hull to the propellers. After examining the propellers, they can stay at the depth and follow the stern back towards the deck. Reaching the deck area they can explore the guns and the other items on the deck. Advance divers can explore the entire deck area which extends down to 28 meters.
Divers who are advanced and wreck certified will find interesting areas if they decide to penetrate the wreck. As per training guidelines, divers are limited to a linear 40 meters from the surface and must remain in the light zone. This does allow the divers to enter the boiler room and portions of the gun deck. The gun deck travels along where the secondary guns were mounted, the passage has a number of portholes and spaces where the guns had been mounted. These provide ample light, however, they are too small to use as an exit.
Technical wreck divers will feel they are in heaven. Depending on their qualifications many areas of the wreck including the engine room is available to them. Some areas are not accessible due to block passages and deteriorating conditions. Also, the depth inside the wreck can reach 35 meters as she has sunk into the mud she rested on.
The abundant marine life, iconic ship items such as the guns and propellers and opportunities for penetration dives make the USS New York the most versatile shipwreck dive site in Asia.