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5/22/21 Rankin 10 a.m.

The USS Rankin rests on her starboard side in 130 to 135 feet with her bow pointing south-southeast. Divers will reach the wreck’s superstructure at 60 feet and the main deck at 95 feet. This is a big wreck and certainly a favorite!

Built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, the USS Rankin launched on December 22, 1944 and was commissioned on February 25, 1945 at the Charleston Naval Yard. Four hundred fifty-nine feet long and 63 feet across the beam, she displaced 14,160 gross tons when fully loaded and drafted about 26 feet. Her maximum speed was 16.5 knots with a cruising range of approximately 17,000 miles. Her armament consisted of a single 5/38 dual-purpose gun mount, four twin 40 mm gun mounts, and sixteen single 20mm gun mounts.

Designed to carry troops, landing craft and supplies, the Rankin was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. She earned one battle star for her World War II operations. Some sources claim that the Rankin was involved in both the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. We know for sure that she transported 5,000 tons of Army ammunition to Okinawa.

The USS Rankin was decommissioned in 1947 and laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet—often referred to as the Mothball Fleet—but in 1952, she embarked on a new mission as a support vessel for amphibious training operations. In 1958, the Lebanese government requested assistance to avert a civil war, and the Rankin landed 5,000 marines in Beirut.

By the late 1960s, the USS Rankin was reclassified and plied the waters off the United States Eastern Seaboard. One of her missions of note took her into Cuban waters during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

Because of the location of the wreck, dive conditions vary a great deal. Sometimes the current from the flowing gulf stream can make it difficult for divers to explore the wreck comfortably, but on other dives the current may be slight. The visibility here is often excellent, and a wide assortment of sea life reportedly frequents the area. We have had reports of large numbers of barracuda, amberjack, grouper and black sea bass.

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5/22/21 Rankin 10 a.m.

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