South of Point Loma

S-37 Submarine Wreck

For more detailed information and history, please see the California Wreck Divers site: CWD S-37 page

The S-37 Submarine wreck is in very shallow water on a very exposed beach (off Imperial Beach) with a silty bottom. Conditions have to be near-perfect for this dive.

What follows are dive notes from 2001. If you have dived this site more recently, please let us know the current condition.

This is an old wreck (it sank in 1945). And it's COVERED in barnacles. The deck area is really, really thick with barnacles (in places, seemingly feet thick). The starboard side has fewer and a bit more algal growth. She lays way over to port. She's about 220' long and about 20' wide at the widest point. She's pretty much perpendicular to shore, with the bow pointing seaward. There are a couple areas with protrusions from the deck, the largest of which is probably the conning tower. There are lots of small openings and a couple larger openings, but nothing which looks like it leads to a real interior that isn't filled with silt. If you can figure out how to get into this thing, you're smarter than I am... and if you go into this thing, you're significantly more foolish than I am. It's really, really small and the bottom there is really fine silt. It'd be an easy way to kill yourself. (Note the warnings on the California Wreck Divers site also.)

It was fun to look around the outside, though I really wish it weren't so covered in barnacles. It would be much more interesting to see the structure itself. But there's still plenty to look at and lots of little holes to peer in. I can't see anyone wanting to dive it all that often, but it's fun simply to have done it.

Several warnings:

  1. Please don't figure out how to get inside it.
  2. It's in 15–25 feet of water at high tide, pretty close to shore, on an exposed beach. This would not be a fun dive site with any kind of surf at all.
  3. The bottom is fine silt... with implications for diving with any surf as well as implications for anyone attempting penetration... (The day that we dove this we had 50+ foot vis off Point Loma, but the vis at the submarine wreck was about 5 feet near the bottom and 10-15 feet on top of the wreck; I've talked to people who've dived it under less perfect conditions who said that it was a braille dive...)

These are WAAS GPS coordinates:

bow: 32 36.244 and 117 08.238
stern: 32 36.260 and 117 08.208