Local LA Dive Sites
A Wreck's History Matches Its Scattered Remains
Built in 1891 and sunk in 1964, the Avalon remains an interesting and fun wreck dive. Originally called the SS Virginia at 269' long and 38' wide commissioned as a Passenger Steam Ship. Later in 1918, she was requisitioned by the Navy (renamed U.S.S. Blueridge) for use in the first world war but then never used and sold to William Wrigley (yes, the same one from chewing gum and Avalon, Catalina Island). In 1920, she had her debut launch as The Avalon and returned to transporting over 1,500 passengers to Catalina Island. She was the way to get to Catalina! World War II broke out and she was requisitioned to the Navy again and then returned to her owners. About 1951 she was sold again and retired. Sold again in 1960 and a final fire that broke out. During a storm in 1964, her anchor chains broke and lead to her sinking.
The broken bow sits upright now and is covered every few feet in spanish shawl nudibranchs and more. The number of invertebrates is as rich as the history of this wreck. It's stern is worth finding because there is a crane and boom that was fitted to her deck. From the bow, follow the steel plates and ribs of what remains of her hull. At the end of her years, she was converted into a salvage barge and may have been used in the salvage of the S.S. Dominator (another wreck) near by.
Location: 3/4 mile from Chriswick Rd., Palos Verde Estates (Rocky Point) in the southern section of the Santa Monica Bay. Marked on most charts. GPS 33° 49.180'N 118° 24.988'W (GPS for reference only. Do not use as your sole source of navigation).
Access: Boat only. Launch ramp at nearby Marina del Rey for private boats. Charter boats out of Santa Monica, Marina del Ray or Redondo Beach or San Pedro.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Depths: 80+ feet to bottom. Top of wreck starts at about 60+ foot.
Visibility: Variable but generally fair to poor averaging 15 feet to over 50 foot on a good day.
Photography: Good for macro and wide angle among the colorful wreckage but visibility often limits wide angle photos. Macro excellent with a multitude of subjects.
Hunting: Scallops. Spearfishing fair, mostly for barred sand bass and a few Kelp Bass. Occasional lobster in wreckage.
Hazards: Good advanced wreck dive. This wreck covers a large debris field over 350 feet. Know where your descent line is and be vigilant about watching your time and gas. Fishing line and hooks. Wreckage is fragile and may collapse. Penetration is limited and not advised. Use hang tanks and bailout bottles.