Maybe you’ve been diving for a few years now. Maybe you’ve traveled quite a bit for diving and done a few things. You’ve done reef dives, wreck dives, drift dives and maybe even explored a few caves or cenotes. So what’s next? What do you do when you’ve done most of the usual dives and visited lots of cool dive destinations? May we suggest that you dive a nuclear missile silo, James Bond-style? Yes, really.
Dive a Nuclear Missile Silo
During the Cold War, the government built numerous underground missile silos all around the United States. While a number of these are still in use, the government decommissioned man of them at the end of the Cold War. A few have been flooded and are today used as dive sites. Central Washington State features one such silo. When it was decommissioned in the 1960s, the pumps that were installed to keep groundwater out of the silo were shut off. Afterward, the entire silo and the maintenance rooms flooded. Today, it is a dive site.
The silo features a dry “ready room” that you must access by way of a ladder; gear must already be on as you descend the ladder or lowered down to you by rope. The silo is 110 feet deep, making this a deep dive, and as there’s no ambient light, it also counts as a night dive, so you’ll want to bring appropriate equipment.
Because of the somewhat unique nature of the dive, you’ll need advanced certification, night-diving training and a minimum of two lights. Experience with cold-water dives is also necessary, as the water temperature hovers around 50 degrees F year-round. Weather conditions do not affect the site due to the shelter of the silo, so it’s dive-able year-round.
What’s to see?
The 160-foot missile silo (of which 100 feet are flooded for the dive) is the dive site’s main attraction is the 160-foot missile silo. It used to house a 110-ton intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile. Dropping down through this area allows divers to explore the silo to its full extent, and take in a bit of Cold War history, suspended in time by the influx of water.
Qualified cave divers can explore side tunnels, but these require proper training and equipment. Bring line reels and independent backup-air sources.
For those who want more than just the dive experience, there’s even a PADI Missile Silo Specialty Diver course. This will give you an intro to the background and history of the silo, safety procedures and includes two silo dives. You’ll need Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent, Deep and Night specialties or equivalent, at least 30 logged dives and a deep and night dive within the past six months. In return, you get a C-card you don’t see in every other diver’s wallet.
For more information on the silo and PADI class, visit UnderSea Adventures.