Dive 22: USS Baltimore
September 29, 2017

Dive 22: Lessons from the USS Baltimore

During Dive 22 of the expedition, the sunken wreck of the iron hulled USS Baltimore, which was scuttled 73 years ago, was explored and described in detail. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts. Download (mp4, 58.7 MB)

Today’s dive was on a maritime heritage site, the USS Baltimore, a late 19th-century protected cruiser that served in both the Spanish-American War and World War I. The ship had been present in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, and was eventually towed out to sea and scuttled in 1944. The purpose of this dive was to conduct a non-invasive video survey of the ship’s remains, including the documentation of specific 19th-century features, to collect photogrammetry and mosaic data to be compiled for a 3D model, to asses scuttling damage and preservation or deterioration status, and to compile an inventory of the organisms residing on the shipwreck. At about 600 meters (1,970 feet) depth, the vessel was found upright and intact on the flat sandy bottom. The dominant fauna on the ship appeared to be brisingid sea stars. Other fauna observed included cup corals, a diversity of octocorals, black coral, zoanthids, comb jellies, glass sponges, urchins, crinoids, hydroids, anemones, tunicates, bivalves, shrimp, a squat lobster, a rattail, dogfish, cutlassfish, and an anglerfish. Data collected today will enable interpretive products of this historic vessel, contribute to a better understanding of how shipwrecks deteriorate over time and the habitat that they provide for marine animals, and provide insights into the maritime heritage sites that exist within U.S. waters.