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The USS Massachusetts is one of the world's first steel battle ships this size and heavily armoured.
|Name Dive Site:||USS Massachusetts|
|Depth: ||9-42ft (3-13m)|
|Visibility: ||9-39ft (3-12m)|
|Inserted/Added by: ||lars, © Lars Hemel|
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The USS Massachusetts is together with the USS Oriskany one of the best known dive sites of north-west Florida. At 1.5 miles southwest of Pensacola Pass just within the Fort Pickens State Aquatic Preserve, this heavy-calibre warship was one of the most impressive ships of her time. In a time where most ships where still made of wood she was a steel steam powered battleship with a beam of almost seventy feet and a displacement of more than ten thousand tons of water. Together with the USS Indiana and the USS Oregon they were highly prized gems of the new heavily armoured Indiana class battleships. Armed with several gun batteries, cannons, gatling guns, torpedo tubes and smaller armaments. Some of her design failures were that she was highly unstable in heavy seas and a low freeboard made the guns extremely difficult to operate.
Launched on June 10, 1893 she was the fourth ship of the United States Navy which was named after its name like state Massachusetts. She was built by William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and served during the Spanish-American War at the end of the nineteenth century blockading ports such as Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. During World War I she was used as a training gunnery vessel until she was renamed to Coast Battleship No. 2 and decommissioned in 1921. She was scuttled near Pensacola on Jan 6, 1921 as a practise target for coastal artillery with bombardments of batteries from Fort Pickens. She was awarded an underwater archaeological preserve on June 10, 1993 exactly one hundred years after its launch.
The 350 feet long wreck is mainly intact with some sections of its hull still covered in white sand. This close to Pensacola Pass she can be very unpredictable with strong currents and low visibilities. Boats have to be careful as well as low tide often exposes remains of several gun turrets. She has been in the water for over ninety years now which has resulted in spectacular coral growth and divers marine life. She is in equilibrium with its natural surroundings; a great shipwreck and a must see while in Pensacola.
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