April 27, 2008 -- In its first life, the USS Oriskany became the first aircraft carrier to sail around Cape Horn on June 29, 1952. After being deployed to the Mediterranean, Korea and Vietnam, the ship now has found a second life -- as a coral reef.
The vessel, which is where Sen. John McCain was based when he was captured as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, was sunk in 2005 in order to make a natural reef for divers. Now its flight deck sits 135 feet deep in sea level 23 miles off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., where it has become the sunshine state's best kept secret diving destination.
"Every time I'm here it's an absolutely new experience. I wish I could spend more time here," said Scott Bartel, a diver with the Pensacola shop MBT Divers.
The Oriskany still has its U.S. and POW flags, which are planted and maintained by divers, Bartel said.
The ship size makes it fun for divers to explore.
"The ship is absolutely huge," Bartel said. "It's nearly 1,000 feet long and 300 feet wide."
"It's really strange to swim through a hallway. It is like you're swimming through history," Bartel said.
Click here to learn more about the USS Oriskany.