UPDATE 11:50 a.m.: Oriskany has sunk
The last tip of the Oriskany’s hurricane bow disappeared into the Gulf at approximately 11 a.m.
Local officials are hopeful the Oriskany settled on the sea floor in an upright position. But they won’t know for sure until Navy divers check the vessel later today.
Navy engineers predicted the Oriskany would sink evenly in a process that would take up to five hours. Instead, the old aircraft carrier went down in approximately 35 minutes, sinking sharply by the fantail.
That might not be too good. Navy divers will have to verify that all explosive charges went off and that the ship is resting safely. If she’s not sitting upright, the island superstructure will be deeper than planned and could greatly reduce the number of recreational divers that can reach the wreck.
As the carrier went down, its bow stuck up, straining the heavy metal anchor lines. The port side bow line appeared broken early in the process. Clouds of debris could be seen billowing from the hangar deck, and water churned and bubbled heavily at the submersion point. Towlines strained at the bow.
The 50-foot boat with the explosive generator and electronics gear appeared intact on the flight deck surface. The boat was expected to float away from the carrier after the Oriskany was fully submerged.
Hopefully we’ll have some pictures soon. It must have been a sight to behold.
UPDATE: Some pics here.