Wreck Diving: A Glimpse of the Past

Over the centuries, maritime engineers made ships larger, faster, and more powerful. But all of these ships had one thing in common with every other ship built in two millennia of seafaring: they can sink!

Once a ship sinks, the underwater world makes the ship its own. The wreck transforms into an artificial reef that attracts fish and other aquatic life, along with divers.

The first wreck dives resulted from a profit motive. The Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans sent breath-hold divers down to recover cargo from their ships when they sank in shallow water. More recently, when seventeenth and eighteenth century Spanish galleons sank in the Caribbean, diving salvors attempted--sometimes quite successfully--to recover lost treasure.

These days, we go wreck diving simply to capture a glimpse into the past. This leads us to the depths to explore around, and perhaps even enter into, these monuments of days gone by. As evidenced by interest in PADI's Wreck Diver Specialty course, more and more divers are entering the water to seek out wrecks.

The PADI Wreck Diver Specialty course is designed to introduce divers to the adventure of wreck diving under the watchful eye of a PADI Instructor. This course, along with PADI's Wreck Diver video, provides divers with the skills, knowledge, organization, procedures, and potential problems of diving on wrecks.

The popular course includes four open water training dives, all of which build upon another. The firstis designed as an underwater tour of a wreck that is led by the PADI Instructor. This allows students to practice some basic wreck diving techniques outlined by your instructor and become familiar with the overall structure.

Once familiar with the wreck, you progress to dive two, which requires practicing mapping techniques. Dive three involves a simulated penetration dive. During this dive you practice working with a line and reel, without actually entering the wreck. This is an opportune time to work on anti-silting techniques, such as different kicking styles and buoyancy control.

On the final dive, you may choose between another dive outside the wreck or you may decide to make the final dive a penetration dive into the wreck. If you participate in a penetration dive, you'll apply the line-laying techniques first practiced during dive three, along with the anti-silting techniques practiced throughout the course.

There are possible hazards associated with wreck diving that divers need to keep in mind. Considerations include sharp edges, entanglement, depth, currents, and penetration. You should not attempt to penetrate a wreck without proper equipment and training.

There are thousands of shipwrecks located throughout the waters of the world, as well as many ships that were sunk intentionally for divers. However, the enjoyment of wreck diving is not limited to those dives made on a ship. It may be just as exciting to dive on a sunken airplane or maybe even an automobile or a bus. The PADI Wreck Diver course, along with the Wreck Diver Video, can help you discover all of the wonders and variety of wreck diving.