STERN - For more details see separate page (Maximum depth 70m)
The most memorable dive on the Coolidge is the stern. To do this dive you need to swim out to the furtherest mooring or if doing as a boat dive, attach to the mooring. This is located towards the rear of the Promenade Deck. Note that in windy conditions and strong currents, it can be quite a task to snorkel this far out (well over 200 metres). I would recommend planning this for about two days before your last dive if possible in case you need to delay doing it due to the conditions.
|A bunch of divers descending to the upper prop shaft (55 m)||Kelly above the upper prop shaft (55 m)|
Once at the mooring, you take a while to catch your breath. Drop down the mooring and once in sight of the ship's hull, swim at 45° to the ship's deck. This will cross behind the Engine Room Cut down straight onto the huge fairings around the upper propeller shaft. Follow this and it gets fair more obvious and then you will see the end of the shaft itself. It is huge!
|Kelly and the rudder and upper shaft (60 m)||Kelly above the lower prop shaft (65 m)|
Just below this is the rudder, again, huge, far bigger than any other rudder you will ever see. Underneath is the port shaft (62 metres). It can be dark here so make sure you have a torch. A short swim takes you to the stern itself where the ship looks biggest. Here you may be able to see the raised lettering of the ship's name. Some of Aquamarine's staff cleaned off the growth in about 2005 or 2006 and since then they have periodically been cleaning it. In June 2007 all you could see was OOLIDG and even this it was not that clear.
A bit further on you can see the huge Six Inch Gun and if you swim out a bit, the great bulb of the hull is awe-inspiring. Below and just off the stern at 70 metres (230 plus feet) below the surface of the ocean are the remains of a lifeboat, a lifeless keel is all that remains.
|The name of the ship at the stern - only OOLIDG is visible (60 m)||Kelly above the 6 inch stern gun (60 m)|
After examining the 3 inch guns on the stern (the starboard one lies on the sand), if you have time and twins, you can go into the Hold Seven (the rear hold) which has a number of six wheel drive trucks and artillery guns. These guns, like the one visible in Hold 2, may be one of four 155 mm guns modified in Noumea and loaded onto the Coolidge at her last stop. These were to be linked up with bases being built at Santo. See Joseph Ritz's memories on the Coolidge's last trip page. There are also thousands of rounds of ammunition lay waiting for an enemy that never came while what at first looks like a large grader lies on the sand. However, this is probably the carriage for a large artillery gun, probably a "Long Tom" which has fallen out of the hold.
Past the rear Tourist Smoking Room (this is large and empty but interesting nonetheless) and the pool you swim, back along the entire length of the Coolidge. A sensational dive unlike any you will experience anywhere else in the world. Definitely only for the experienced deep diver. The lounge and Hold Seven can be done as separate dives without too much trouble.
Return to the SS President Coolidge Dive Index Page.