The Massachusetts is a difficult dive often wrought with boat traffic and dangerous currents. Divers who wish to explore this wreck should be strongly cautioned to adhere to all safety protocol, and to be acutely aware of their surroundings.
Time To Complete
With a wetsuit, this site is enjoyable year round!
First launched in 1893 and finally declared an underwater archeological preserve in 1993, the USS Massachusetts is a world-class diving site just steps away from downtown Pensacola. Located in the Pensacola Pass and enveloped in the Fort Pickens State Aquatic Preserve, the Massachusetts sits in just under 30 ft. of water, and while a shallow dive, does not skimp on the adventure. Ample marine life coupled with the thrill of diving along such a historic artifact promise to make for an incredible dive.
What Makes It Great
Because of the USS Massachusetts’ proximity to shore, it’s generally easily accessible and a great dive for groups wanting to avoid hours spent at sea. The ship itself is in remarkable condition considering it's 80-odd years below the surface, and particularly considering its hull was a source for scrap metal in the 1940s. And, aside from the ship itself offering a trip back in time for those wishing to dive its shallow waters, the artificial reef the Massachusetts has become is a haven for marine life galore, as well as the wildlife enthusiasts who swim among the rays, goliath grouper, mackerel, sea turtles, and resident nurse sharks.
The waters surrounding the Massachusetts can be tricky to navigate and dangerous to dive, so this gem does not come without risk. The shallowness of the ship’s final resting place can be deceptive; heavy boat traffic and strong currents should invoke caution, but the dive is consistently stated as being worth the risk as long as proper safety measures are taken. Warm waters promise year-round comfort, and local dive shops and masters are always an option for those wanting a little extra assurance while exploring this battered battleship.
Who is Going to Love It
Certified divers from around the world flock to dive the USS Massachusetts, and with temperate waters and ample marine life surrounding this archaeological site, it’s easy to see the draw. Those who are comfortable with their SCUBA skills are most likely to safely enjoy the full experience of the Massachusetts, as this dive is not truly one for a novice. Wildlife fans and history buffs alike will truly appreciate this coastal dive immensely, and night dives are an absolute favorite at this location.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
We cannot stress enough that safety is paramount before trekking the 1.5 nautical miles to the site of the USS Massachusetts. Double checking gear, consulting local experts, checking the tides, and being aware of the boat traffic for the day are all recommendable steps to take before taking the plunge.
The Massachusetts is generally an easy find, located in the Pensacola Pass just a little over a mile off rock jetties and still partially exposed. Dive buddies — preferably someone local — are also essential to safety, as every SCUBA certified diver knows, and an underwater camera is highly recommendable for this breathtaking dive.