Explorers Dive Club - Wreck Diving Articles

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Our club does a lot of wreck diving. You'll find us scurrying about the bottom of the ocean almost every weekend. A few of our members took the opportunity to enlighten us about the wrecks we visit. Each article provides a brief history of the wreck, how it came to be at the bottom of the ocean, marine life and dive conditions.


Stolt Dagali
Gulftrade
Algol
RP RESOR

Stolt Dagali by Justin Case

It was 2am 11-26-64, early Thanksgiving morning. The Norwegian tanker Stolt Dagali, en route from Philadelphia to Newark, NJ with its cargo of solvents, vegetable oil and molasses, encounters a dense fog bank as she cruises north along the Jersey coast. At the same time, the Israeli luxury liner, Shalom, begins her cruise south from New York Harbor to the Caribbean. The Shalom was carrying 1000 passengers and crew. The Shalom passes the Ambrose lightship as she leaves NY harbor and encounters the fog as well.

Soon after, the Shalomís radar picks up another ship less than two miles of the starboard side. When the Stoltís runing lights became visible, the 2 ships were at right angles to each other.. They attempted to turn - the collision was unavoidable. The Shalom hit the Stolt portside behind the bridge, with so much momentum and thrust that The Shalom completely sheared the tanker in two. The rear section of the Stolt sank within minutes, while the bow remained afloat.

Because of the heavy seas, rain and dense fog, the first helicopter was unable to make contact with the vessel until 4 am. 19 crew members aboard the Stolt lost their lives in 55 degree water, while the Coast Guard and Navy rescued the other 25.

Today, the stern section of the Stolt lies in 130 feet of water 16 miles off the New Jersey coats, southeast of the Manasquan inlet. This is one of our favorite of the may shipwrecks that exist off the coast of New Jersey. The stern, 200 feet long, rises to within 65 feet of the surface and provides opportunities for almost any level diver. Because of its location offshore, the Stolt generally has good visibility. The wreck is covered with anemones, mussels, schools of fish, bergalls, sea bass, lobster, ling and flounder. Pelagics are often seen, including mola mola, turtles, dolphin and sharks.

The Stolt Dagali, with its good visibility, interesting marine life, varying depths and intact wreckage, is Jersey diving at its best.

Stolt Stats
Built: 1955/Sunk: 1964/Length: 583 ft/Beam: 76/Material: Steel

Gulftrade

One clear March night in 1942, a tanker owned by the Gulf oil company was en route to New York carrying 80,000 gallons of fuel oil. Although the tanker should have been running blackout to avoid the U-boats, Captain Toger Olsen had turned the lights on some time earlier to aid in navigation -- and forgot to turn them off. A single torpedo from Viktor Vogelís U-588 broker the tanker in two.

Initially, flames from the doomed tanker rose 96 ft in the air. Although the night was clear, the seas were rough, and a wave extinguished the burning wreckage. 18 men made it to the shipís lifeboats. The rough seas swamped the lifeboats, and all 18 perished. The Coast Guard rescued eight men, and an additional seven men remained on the floating stern section until the Navy was able to rescue them. In March 1942, 27 ships were sunk by U-boats on the Eastern Frontier, an area that runs from New England to the Carolinas.

The two pieces of the boatís wreckage drifted apart, and today sit about 10 miles from each other. The bow section rests in 60 ft of water, eight miles from Barnegate Inlet. The bow was blown apart to avoid it becoming a navigational hazard.

We generally dive the stern section, which sits in 90 ft of water. Although this section was wired dragged, again to avoid navigational hazards, pieces are intact. Those trained to do so may penetrate in some places. Visibility tends to be good, and the wreck is covered in mussels, starfish, and anemones. There is always a wide variety of local marine fauna to been seen, including black fish, ling, and bergolls. And, of course, there are lobster. Rumor has it that club members have left the dive site with lobster weighing in at between five and ten pounds.

Algol

Its no wonder the Algol is among the most popular dive sites in the area. After all, it is nicknamed "The Screaminí Demon."

Distinguished Military Career
She began life as the SS James Barnes in Feb. 1943, but was renamed the Algol in August of that same year. (Algol is a star in the constellation Perseus, also known as the Demon star, hence the nickname Screaminí Demon.) She had a distinguished military career, having been converted to a cargo attack vessel in 1943. She was fitted with a wide array of armaments. She ferried trucks, artillery and troops during amphibious beach assaults. The Algol took part in the amphibious assults of Okinawa and Philippines. She was deactivated briefly in 1947, but was reactivated for the Korean Conflict in August of 1950 and took part in the Inchon Invasion. She was also a support unit during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The Algol earned seven battle stars, two for service during World War II and five for service during the Korean conflict. As a fitting end, she was cleaned up and sunk as part of the Shark River artificial reef program. Scores of crew-members came from across the country to say goodbye at the shipís sinking in 1991.

The Dive
On a recent Saturday, a group of us got together for what for a few of us was the first wreck dive of the season. We boarded the Dina Dee early (really early!) for the trip to the Algol, which lies about 15 miles east of Manasquan Inlet. Of course, itís worthwhile when you have a day like we had: beautiful weather, flat, calm seas and incredible visibility (30 - 40 ft., really!) - and a great dive site.

Today, the Algol remains completely intact, all 459 feet of hull, and 8 decks which rise almost 100 ft. This site has something for every diver. The wreck lies in approximately 135 ft of water, with the bridge rising to about 60 ft. There are plenty of places to play since it still has it railings, ladders and cargo holds (for those properly trained for penetration.)

And if youíre looking for mussels, itís a site not to miss. (Apparently, Barn had quite a nice dinner that night!) The place is covered with mussels. Even though the Algol is not known for its lobster, a few were caught, and at least one was thrown back in (As Rich put it - not even big enough for salad.) There were tons of crabs, and some members brought back sea scallops. Perhaps among the best catches was the wreck reel, goody bag and dive light. Gene found the light, which had obviously been down awhile. He cleaned it up a bit, turned on the switch and the thing worked!

Lots To See
In addition to the lobster, mussels and crabs, the sea life on the Algol included black fish, sea bass, bergolls, ocean pout, sea anemones, Charmin jellyfish, starfish, pollak, nudibrachs, and a bit off the wreck, were winter flounder.

There is nothing like the site of looking up from 120 ft and seeing the outline of the huge ship bathed in ambient light --Once again, proving New Jersey has wrecks with character!

RP RESOR by Justin Case

On a cold, clear evening in February of 1942, the RP Resor sailed up the New Jersey coastline. Owned by Standard Oil (Exxon), the Resorís cargo was 78,729 full barrels of crude oil. She was under the command of Captain Fredrick Marcus, and carried 40 crew and nine armed naval guards. The sea was calm, and the night was clear. It was a perfect night to be a u-boat captain. Korvetten Kaptain Ernest Rehwinkel in command of the U-578 maneuvered to within 200 yards of the Resor and launched a single torpedo which struck amidships. Kaptain Rehwinkel launched another torpedo, and ruptured the Resorís oil tanks. Flames enveloped the tanker. Oil and debris were blown skyward. The men leaped into the frigid water or tried to launch life boats. The flames engulfing the tanker were so bright they were easily visible from the Jersey shore line. On 2-28-42, two days after the U-boat attack, the Resor burned itself out, rolled over and sank 31 miles east of Barnegat light in 130í of water. Of the 40 crew and 9 armed guards, only two survived.

The Dive
The RP Resor is among my favorite dives. The stern section is still intact and its deck gun is still there, pointing into the sand. It is known for good visibility. Really good visibility: The day we made the dive, I was kneeling on the stern looking over a valley of deck plates and could see the shadow of the bow section over 100 feet away. It is also known for sharks, schools of fish and big lobster. Really big lobster: One of our members caught a 12 pound lobster. There were also cod, flounder, and pollack, and one shark was spotted. The RP Resor, with its good visibility, plenty to see, calm sees and big lobster, is a dive not to be missed.

RP Resor Stats:
RP Resor Stats:
Built in Kearney NJ
Length: 445 feet
Width: 66 feet wide
Type: Tanker
Built: 1932
Sunk: 1942
Depth: 130 ft.



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