The Texas Clipper - Dive 1

September 7, 2014

The Scubaland dive club made the trip out to South Padre Island to do the "Tons of Steel" wreck dive on the Texas Clipper. We dove with the local South Padre outfit American Diving. They're a very professional and well run dive shop. After the briefing, we headed out for the hour long ride to the Clipper wreck site. It was a beautiful morning.

The 473-foot Texas Clipper was launched on September 12, 1944 as the USS Queens (APA-103), a WWII transport and attack ship. She carried troops and wounded from battlefields in the Pacific and was the first attack troop transport arriving at Iwo Jima. After the war until 1958, she was commissioned as the SS Excambion, one of the post-war four aces for the American Export Lines. She carried cargo and passengers between New York City and Mediterranean ports. From 1965 to 1994, she sailed as the USTS Texas Clipper, a Texas A&M University – Galveston maritime training vessel until her retirement in 1993.

As an end to this long career, later this fall the Texas Clipper will be reefed approximately 17 nautical miles off South Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico. It will become the latest addition to Texas Artificial Reef Program (TARP), one of the strongest artificial reef programs in the nation. [1]

When we finally got to the site, ship's dive master got in the water to anchor is to the mooring and check the conditions. The good, there was very little current. The bad, a lot of silt had been kicked up around the wreck and visibility was down to 5 feet on the ship. Crap.

Considering the conditions and being unfamiliar with the site, I decided not to bring my camera. Good decision as I spent the entire time focused on not getting separated from my buddy. The 5 feet viz made this a challenge and I had to stay within arms reach , more or less, the entire time.

We stuck to the edge of the ship on our way out and on the way back just to avoid getting lost. Not exactly a fun dive but sometimes you have to make do with the conditions as they are.


The Texas Clipper

Location: South Padre Island, Texas, USA


Dive Number:   104
Bottom Time: 32m
Time In: 9:16 a.m.
Tank In:
Max Depth: 82.00 ft
Table Used:
Mix:   32%
Safety Stop: 3m
Time Out: 9:48 a.m.
Tank Out:
Average Depth: 57.00 ft
Start Pressure Group:
Surface Interval:  
End Pressure Group:


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Everett Toews
TBT: 197h 22m