HMCS Yukon: A 366' Canadian Destroyer
|Rig / Type:
||Canadian Mackenzie Class Destroyer
||366 Feet (111.6 Meters)
||42 Feet (12.8 Meters)
||Laid down on 25 October 1959; Launched 27 July 1961 by Burrard Dry Dock & Shipbuilding
||Commissioned 27 July 1961; Decommissioned 3 December 1993
|Date of Sinking:
||July 14, 2000
|Cause of Sinking:
||Foundered (Artificial Reef)
|Cargo at time of Sinking:
|Location of Wreck:
||San Diego, California, USA (Mission Bay)
||32 46.80N 117 17.12W
||68 Feet (Highest point at stern) to 104 Feet (Lowest point at bow)
||Conditions vary daily - Typically 10 feet to 60 feet
||At Depth: High 40s / Low 50s (Winter); Mid 50s to High 50s (Summer)
||Bow, Stern, Mid Guns (sometimes there is a fourth buoy). Buoys are maintained by volunteers and changed on occasion.
HMCS Yukon (DDE 263) was a Mackenzie class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy and later the Canadian Forces.
She was the first Canadian naval unit to carry this name.
Yukon was laid down on 25 October 1959 at Burrard Dry Dock Ltd., North Vancouver and launched on 27 July 1961. She was commissioned into the RCN on 25 May 1963.
She was assigned to the Pacific Fleet and served largely as a training ship with the RCN and later in the CF under Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC). She underwent the Destroyer Life Extension Project (DELEX) in 1983.
She was decommissioned from Maritime Command on 3 Dec 1993.
Yukon's hulk was purchased by the San Diego Oceans Foundation which towed her from CFB Esquimalt to San Diego, California in 2000. She was gutted and cleaned before being scuttled in 100 feet (30 m) of water in the Pacific Ocean off Mission Bay in San Diego as an artificial reef.
The Ship's Bell
The ship's bell of HMCS Yukon is currently located in the Yukon Legislative Building. The Christening Bells Project at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum includes information from the ship's bell of HMCS Yukon, which was used for the baptism of babies onboard the ship.
Diving the Yukon Today
The popularity of the Yukon is unmatched for wreck divers in California and well reputed as the highest quality wreck dive in the Southwest dive community. Unlike most wrecks it is nearly "in-tact" which makes it very exciting and potentially very dangerous.
The Yukon was not a cargo ship, it was designed to carry a crew - its bulkheads and low decks form a maze of narrow passages and small compartments, some of which are over 50' from the nearest exit. To compound the potential danger, the almost accidental sinking of the Yukon left it on its portside, allowing sand and silt to fill the hull and block off several exits. The orientation of the ship is now offset by a strong list, increasing the depth from what was originally planned and the depths listed on the maps of the wreck.
Wreck Penetration is an advanced diving skill and requires specific training in overhead environments. And the Yukon is an unforgiving environment. Just because it is an "artificial reef" does not mean it is any different than any other technical wreck dive. Wreck penetration should only be attempted by those properly trained and equipped.
Tips and Suggestions
- Don't make the Yukon your first ever deep dive.
- Have recent cold water experience. Even in the summer, temps are in the mid-50s at the bottom.
- Don't task load with new gear. Be comfortable in the gear you have.
- Dive Wreck Alley with a credible boat and boat crew.
- Have a dive buddy you know and are comfortable with.
- Use the rule of thirds to manage your dive and gas plan.
- Plan your dive and dive your plan.
- Stay out of the wreck unless properly trained and with someone who knows the wreck better than you.
- Nitrox is a really good idea, especially if you are doing multiple Yukon dives and/or three dives during the day.
- Watch "accidental deco" on multiple dives.
- Topside weather can be cold or warm, plan for both.
- Carry a redundant air source.
- Carry an ascent SMB and line and know how to use them.
- Stay close to the wreck, there is NOTHING out in the sand.
- Dive the wreck in small bites. You don’t need to dive the whole wreck in one dive, or even one day.
- Go slow; you will see a lot more.
- With limited visibility, take 'in-depth mental notes' on where your ascent line is located.
- Be aware that visibility can change radically in the middle of your dive.
- Be wary of openings and surge. Wild surge has been known to "suck" divers in and "blow" divers away from the wreck.
- Hire a dive professional to work with you on the first couple of "wreck dives" on the Yukon.
- Get proper training to conduct Wreck Dives. Several training agencies offer both basic and advanced level wreck training.
- Wear the proper exposure protection and equipment to dive cold water wrecks when diving the Yukon.
- Never touch another diver's line, reel, or stage bottle.
- Don't rely on other divers' navigation lines, lights, or markers. They move in the middle of the dive.
- Always ascend at a rate no more than 30 feet per minute and conduct a 5 minute safety stop at 15 feet at the end of every dive.
- Don't dive if you are sea sick.
- Carry at least one backup light during the day and two at night.
- Carry at least one cutting device.
- Be careful of edges on the wreck, they are as sharp as razor blades.
- Don't hang American Flags on a Canadian Destroyer...the Canadians don’t appreciate it.
- Leave the wreck exactly as you found it. Do not leave behind trinkets or trash.
- Plan your next Wreck Alley dive trip with the Academy of Scuba!