Wreck Diving Explained: A Complete Beginners Guide


If you spend some time around a group of seasoned scuba divers, every now and then you will hear a suspicious term titled ‘Wreck Diving’. Being only a beginner, you might have wondered what could be the relation between scuba diving and wreckage!

Actually, wreck diving is a special type of diving. This recreational diving takes place in wrecked ships, airplanes or other structures, hence thename. Here are some popular reasons of wreck diving –

  • Over time, the wrecks turn into artificial reefs, which host interesting marine life,
  • The wrecks often contain interesting structure and/or machineries,
  • Wreck diving challenges the skills and expertise of a diver,
  • Most wreckage has some tragic histories with them,
  • Some wreckage contains artistic or historic artifacts.

Types of Wreck Diving

Gary Gentile has divided wreck diving into three major categories –

  1. Non-penetration diving,
  2. Limited penetration diving and
  3. Full penetration diving.

Non-penetration diving is the most basic type of wreck diving. In this level, the diver does not enter into the wreck. The real danger lies in being entangled with the fishing nets, lines etc. The wreck structure might have sharp edges, which are risky too.

Limited penetration diving includes going inside the wreck site. Divers of this level are required to keep the exit level in sight and always be within the range of natural light.

Lastly, the full penetration diving allows the diver to explore the full site. This level is the most dangerous and demands special expertise in wreck diving. Common risks include getting lost inside the wreck, complete darkness in case of light failure, inability to escape due to failed air supply etc.

Popular Wreck Diving Locations

There are lots of wreck diving sites located all over the world. Surprisingly, there are some artificial wreck diving sites too. Here are some of the most popular wreck diving sites in the world:

  1. Bianca C: This is the largest dive able wreck location in the Caribbean. Resulting from a boiler room explosion, the ship sank in October 1962.Now the wreck remains sank 167 feet under water.
  2. Spiegel Grove: This location features USS Spiegel Grove, one of the largest ships in the world that sank on purpose. The main deck is twice as long as a football field and other parts are fittingly huge too.
  3. Pelinaion: This wreck location in Bermuda features the scattered parts of a former Greek steamer. After sinking in 1939, the steamer has become a favorite place for grouper fish and other marine creatures.

Training and Security

Wreck diving has some unique risks and problems for the divers.As these locations are favorite places for the fishermen, divers often become entangled with fishing lines, hooks or nets. The wrecks are also very fragile and could shatter without any notice. Some wrecks are located in deep water which require deep diving experience.
In order to ensure the diver’s security, it is necessary that he carries at least one cutting device, an additional light and a guideline, reserve gas for deep penetration.

There are some diving training institutes which offer specialized wreck diving courses. These courses teach essential skills like air management, proper use of guidelines, keeping track of the directions etc. Some courses also include underwater cultural heritage and archaeological issues.


Despite the risk of getting lost, losing track of the exit point or being entangled in fishing lines, wreckdiving is still a popular sport. If you are interested in this special type of diving, learn the necessary skills first. Your security should always be the first priority. Only then, you will be able to enjoy the beauty of a wrecked site.