|The Promenade Deck, SS President Coolidge|
Maximum Depth 34 metres - no decompression
by Dave Cross Pro Dive Espiritu Santo
The simplest and easiest dive on the President Coolidge. We use this dive to introduce new divers to the wreck whilst we get to know your capabilities and needs. On the flip side, you discover how we operate and our routine. It's a real win/win.
Using the bow mooring, we drop a line to the ship in 20 metres of water. Following the line we swim midline along the deck, stopping to look at the starboard 3" gun and huge shells fired from it, which litter the deck.
As the first introduction to the President Coolidge, the sheer size will amaze and quite possibly daunt you. Her massive bulk stretches out into the depths and on a clear day it is possible to see the full incredible length of this huge ocean liner. Honestly, the sight takes you by surprise every time - it is a truly special experience.
Holds 1 & 2 are passed but not entered - we explore those on a later dive. The Promenade Deck, first class section of course, is entered through the Bridge area and it is possible to look down into the Library, Continental Lounge and First Class Lobby. (We'll explore inside these rooms when we dive The Lady later.) It is important to watch buoyancy here, as it's easy to stir the silt up and lose visibility quickly. Nothing dangerous but it does make it less than pleasant for anyone following behind (and that could be you!).
As we glide along, it's possible to see Springfield rifles, helmets, gas masks, trenching tools, chow trays and water bottles - all the equipment the troops were told to leave on the ship. This gear has been underwater for over 60 years and is very fragile. It is awesome and we ask you to look but don't touch. Think of it as a living museum.
At the maximum depth of 34 metres, it's possible to see some of the extra 43 toilets installed to meet the troops needs. It's in the collapsed section of the Prom so we can only look in through the windows. It is still possible to see them clearly though.
Rising to the side of the ship there's a 1940 US army field cook pot - you can still read the manufacturer's name and date of manufacture. I understand the company that made the pot is still in business in America! Not a bad advertisement.
As we moving back towards the bow, we swim over Euart's Door, where army Captain Elwood Euart heroically saved some of his men, only to be trapped himself - he is one of the true heroes of the Coolidge.
Approaching the bow, we find huge access holes cut into the side of the ship with hundreds of 3" and 5" cannon shells lying on the hull. Keep a look out for the big old turtle that sometimes sits on the bridge.
Returning to the bow, we follow the rope up to the deco gardens and complete the deco/safety stops with Boris the groper, depending on the season, plus all the coral and fish. There is a huge array of clown fish, mantis shrimps, anemones and coral fish - enough to keep one amused for hours. Not to mention the antics of other divers!
This dive is designed to provide a taste of this incredible wreck. Divers need to know their own limits when penetrating and exploring this site - and we try to accommodate everyone's wishes. If you don't feel comfortable inside the wreck, just signal or say so beforehand and a dive master will stay with take you on a different discovery outside - rest assured there is so much to explore, you won't be bored.
I've dived countless times on this amazing ship and yet, even knowing her as I do - she is a constant source of amazement not just for the artifacts but for the marine creatures which have adopted and made her welcome.
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