Miami Area Dive Sites
The Dive Charter Operator I recommend to dive these wreck sites is: RJ Diving Ventures
The Orion was a United States Navy tugboat that was used during the widening of the Panama Canal in Central America. Originally the ship's engines were totally electric. They were later converted to diesel and after its' duties in Central America the vessel was to be converted into a floating diesel mechanic school by Federal aid. Somehow the funding was lost, and the vessel remained unused on the Miami River for 5 years. The State of Florida stepped in and seized the ship, turning it over to the Dade County's artificial reef program. Plans were made to sink the vessel off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida as an artificial reef.
The 118 foot Orion was towed out to her final resting place on December 22, 1981. Although she was originally placed in 125 feet of water, the anchor pulled up and dragged bottom and she ended up in only 95 feet due to heavy seas that day.
The Orion was a classic-looking shipwreck, lying totally intact until Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The storm's fury took the pilot house off the ship, but somehow safely placed it on the sand bottom right next to the wreck! The pilot house is still full of schooling baitfish.
On more than one occasion I have seen large groupers on this dive. However, they do take notice of diver commotion on the wreck and often escape to the nearby deep reef, or hide underneath the twisted metal remains.
Be careful when diving the Orion, there is usually strong current as the Gulf Stream passes close by her position. You can arrange to dive her with RJ Diving Ventures located at South Beach Marina.
|Robin's Personal Scuba Instruction
P.O. Box 144353
Coral Gables, FL 33114-4353
PADI Instructor # 26858 since 1987
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