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About the USS Saratoga

Diving "Sara"

Being the shallowest wreck in Bikini we spend most of our afternoon dives on her. 27m to the deck, 50m to the sand and 15m to the top of the bridge gives you plenty of bottom time.

The main penetration points are from the Hangar deck forward. But just bear in mind that less than 10% of this wreck has ever been explored! To date, noone has found the entrance and dived the engineroom!


USS Saratoga CV-3, an American aircraft carrier 268 meters in length and weighs 39,000 tons, it rests in Bikini's lagoon at a depth of 52 meters. Her bridge is easily accessible at 18 meters, her deck at 28 meters, and the hanger for the Helldivers at 32 meters. These Helldivers and bombs are still on display complete with all dials and controls.
Inter-war period
Saratoga was the first fast carrier in the US Navy, sailing from Philadelphia on 6 January 1928, Saratoga did tours in the Pacific via the Panama Canal, carrying Marines to Corinto, Nicaragua, and finally joined the Battle Fleet at San Pedro, California in February. During the remaining decade before World War II, Saratoga exercised in the San Diego – San Pedro area.

In January 1941, she entered the Bremerton Navy Yard for a long deferred modernization. When the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Saratoga was just entering San Diego after the upgrade. She hurriedly got underway, carrying Marine aircraft intended to reinforce the vulnerable garrison on Wake Island. Reaching Pearl Harbor on 15 December, rendezvousing with Tangier, which had relief troops and supplies on board, However, Saratoga force was delayed by the low speed of its oilers. After receiving reports of Japanese carrier aircraft over the island and Japanese landings on it, the relief force was recalled on 22 December. Wake fell the next day.

Saratoga continued operations in the Hawaiian Island region, but on 11 January 1942, 800 km south-west of Oahu, she was hit without warning by a deep-running torpedo fired by I-6. Although six men were killed and three firerooms were flooded, the carrier reached Oahu under her own power.

Saratoga returned to action in June 1942, in time for reinforcement operations immediately following the Battle of Midway. She was next engaged in supporting the Battle of Guadalcanal in August 1942, including participation in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. Another enemy submarine torpedo hit on 31 August put her in the repair yard for two months.

The carrier was back in the South Pacific war zone in December 1942, spending the next year in that area. In November 1943, her planes made devastating raids on the Japanese base at Rabaul and supported the Gilberts operation later in the month. In January and February 1944 Saratoga took part in the invasion of the Marshall Islands. She then was sent to join the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean and participated in raids on Japanese positions in the East Indies during April and May 1944. An overhaul from June to September prepared her for employment training aviators for night operations. In February 1945, she carried night fighters during the Iwo Jima invasion and raids on the Japanese home islands. Several Kamikaze suicide plane hits on 21 February caused serious damage and casualties, sending her back to the U.S. for another session in the shipyard.
Saratoga returned to service in May, again taking on a training role that lasted until Japan's surrender. Beginning in September 1945, she transported servicemen from the Pacific back to the United States as part of Operation "Magic Carpet". Too old for retention in the post-war fleet, Saratoga was then assigned to target duty for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini, in the Marshall Islands. She survived the first blast, on 1 July 1946, but sank after the 25 July underwater test.


Ship Stats

Class and type:
  Lexington-class aircraft carrier
  54,000 ton
  850 feet (259 m) (waterline) 880 feet (268 m) (overall)
  105 feet 5.25 inches (32.14 m)
  24.25 feet (7.39 m) (design)
  16 × boilers at 300 psi (2.1 MPa)
    4 × shafts 213,000 shp (159 MW) reached in service
  33.25 knots (61.6 km/h)
  10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
  2,122 officers and men Sensors and processing systems:
  4 × twin 8-inch (200 mm) 55 caliber guns
    12 × single 5-inch (130 mm) guns
  Belt: 5 to 7 inches (130 to 180 mm)
    2 inches (51 mm) protective 3rd deck
3 inches (76 mm) flat to 4.5 inches
(110 mm) over steering gear
Aircraft carried:
  91 aircraft, 2 × elevators 1 × flywheel catapult


© Pete Mesley's Lust4Rust and Shock&Awe Big Animal Diving - Auckland, New Zealand, 2103