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Lars Hemel
Certification Level:
Certification Number:
PADI 471740
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Diving at American ship Thunderbolt used by the Florida Power and Light company for research about lightning.

Name Dive Site:Thunderbolt
Depth: 68-118ft (21-36m)
Accessibility: Boat, Live-aboard
Inserted/Added by: lars, © Author: Lars Hemel

Rated 1.0, 2 votes

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The Thunderbolt was a 188-foot long military vessel originally built in the USA as a cable laying boat named the USS Randolph, which name can still be seen. When the navy didn't use it anymore she was bought by the Florida Power and Light (FP&L) company which used her to investigate lightning, hence her second name Thunderbolt. During huge storms she was out in the sea receiving many lightning hits when they send loads of ionized gas into the atmosphere. When she sank on the docks of the Miami River she was bought by some local dive operators to make a thrilling artificial reef of her. She was prepared, cleaned and opened before she was sunk at her final destination in front of the Marathon coast on the 3rd of March 1986

This great wreck dive, just south of Coffins Reef, is easily found and has a permanent marker buoy attached to her. Nowadays she sits perfectly upright and offers great variety and relief with a 45 feet depth range from bottom to top. Some of the main sights are the huge twin propellers and the engine compartment room which can be entered from the main deck up to a depth of 110 feet. Near the main deck it is possible to enter the wheelhouse through a staircase, which gives you an awesome feeling. The bridge, name and marine life are several of the other highlights of diving at this wreck.

She is a deep advanced dive site and dive boats are very strict about checking your certification level and the amount of logged dives. It might be useful to bring gloves as it is necessary to hold the coral-encrusted rope down to the ship, especially with high currents. Around its bow are many barracudas, silversides and many types of jacks, while the wreck is coated with sponges, soft and hard corals.

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