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The USS New York Subic Bay Wreck

USS New York (later USS Rochester and USS Saratoga) ACR-2 CA-2 Subic Bay wreck dive site

The most popular of the Subic Bay dive sites, the USS New York is perhaps the most famous and sought-after wreck dive in the Philippines. She was launched in 1891 as the second in a line of armoured cruisers, with the original designation of ‘ACR-2′: Armored Cruiser No.2.

USS New York Subic Bay: Short History

Her sister ship, ACR-1, was later converted to a battleship and renamed the USS Maine. The sinking of the USS Maine instigated the Spanish-American War, in which the USS New York also fought. The USS New York was modernized with the addition of four 8-inch turreted guns. With her upgrade, she became the flagship of the US Asiatic Fleet and Pacific Squadron. She subsequently participated in the First World War and other conflicts.

In 1911 she was renamed ‘USS Saratoga’ and later in 1917, the ‘USS Rochester’. By 1933 she was finally laid up at the Subic Bay to be cannibalized for spares. She was eventually scuttled by the US Navy in Dec 1941 during their preparations to withdraw from Subic, to prevent her four 8-inch guns from falling into Japanese hands.

Diving the USS New York Subic Bay

  • Depth: 16-32m
  • Suitable for: Advanced Open Water/Experienced/Tech Wreck divers.

Resting on her port side at a depth of 30m, she is still mostly intact, except for explosive damage caused by demolition operations in her midsection. Fortunately for divers, her four massive turreted deck guns and enormous propeller are still intact. The wreck is 110m long, making it one of the largest wrecks in the Bay.

Diving the USS New York is an atmospheric experience for divers and the scale of the wreck can really be appreciated as you swim alongside her main guns or around her propeller. It is a phenomenal wreck for basic and technical level penetration diving; with several decks, large engine rooms and many engineering spaces to explore.

A typical USS New York recreational dive

The dive starts as you descend a permanent shot-line onto the port hull at 18m. There are soft corals growing across the hull, with many schools of fish and, occasionally, a visiting eagle ray might be seen.

From there, your dive plan may take you aft to witness the gigantic propeller, or you might drop over the side of the wreck and descend down the top deck to visit the large aft gun turret and rear mast at 30m.

Recreational wreck penetrations

Recreational wreck divers can drop through one of the empty side gun enclosures and swim along the first deck. There is plenty of ambient light shining through a large number of exits as you fin along. Just be sure to not take a turn deeper into the wreck, as it becomes a disorientating maze with lots of silt waiting to cause zero visibility. Stay well within the light zone and it is very safe.

Going beyond the light-zone

The USS New York would take dozens of dives to explore comprehensively; there’s a lot of penetrable space beyond the light zone.

Technical and advanced wreck divers may choose more challenging explorations; venturing into the engine rooms, engineering spaces and the second and third decks. These can be very confined and silty; line-laying is a necessity and the dives should be comprehensively planned and properly equipped.

The USS New York can be a challenging penetration, both psychologically and in terms of skillset. Technical qualified divers and instructors have perished inside; so dive prudently.

USS New York Subic Bay History and Specifications

  • Class: Armoured Cruiser
  • Designation: ACR-2
  • Displacement: 8,150 Tons
  • Dimensions: 384′ x 64′ 10″ x 26′ 8″
  • Armament: 6 x 8″/35, 12 x 4″/40 8 x 6pdr, 4 x 1pdr, 3 x 14″ tt
  • Armour: 4″ Belt, 5 1/2″ Turrets, 6″ Deck, 7″ Conning Tower
  • Machinery: 16,000 IHP; 2 Vertical, Inverted, Triple Expansion Engines, 2 screws
  • Speed: 20 Knots
  • Crew: 565

Operational and Building Data
The keel was laid on 19 Sep 1890 by William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, PA.

  • Launched 02 Dec 1891
  • Commissioned 1 Aug 1893
  • Decommissioned 31 MAR 1905
  • Recommissioned 15 May 1909
  • Decommissioned 31 Dec 1909
  • Recommissioned 1 Apr 1910
  • Renamed SARATOGA 1911
  • Decommissioned 6 Feb 1916
  • Recommissioned 23 Apr 1917
  • Renamed ROCHESTER 1917
  • Redesignated CA-2 in 1920
  • Decommissioned 29 Apr 1933
  • Stricken 28 Oct 1938
  • Scuttled Dec 1941

Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Sampson Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, Philippine Campaign Medal, Mexican Service Medal, World War I Victory Medal w/Grand Fleet Clasp.

USS New York (later USS Rochester and USS Saratoga) ACR-2 CA-2 Subic Bay wreck dive site

Further References

Dives Sites of Subic Bay

For details on the other dive sites of Subic Bay, click on the map below.


Need training for wreck exploration diving?


Andy Davis Technical Sidemount Wreck Diving Subic Bay Philippines RAID Courses Training

About the Author

Andy Davis is a RAID, PADI TecRec, ANDI, BSAC and SSI-qualified independent technical diving instructor who specializes in teaching sidemount, trimix and advanced wreck diving courses.

Currently residing in Subic Bay, Philippines; he has amassed more than 10,000 open circuit and CCR dives over 27 years of diving across the globe.

He has published numerous diving magazine articles, designed courses for dive training agencies and tests/reviews dive gear for scuba equipment manufacturers. He is currently writing a series of advanced diving books and creating a range of tech diving clothing and accessories

Prior to becoming a professional technical diving educator in 2006, Andy was a commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Belize and Cyprus.

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