The USS Oriskany, nicknamed the “Mighty O” or the “O-boat,” was one of the handful of Essex-class aircraft carriers commissioned after World War II for the US Navy. The ship was named for the Battle of Oriskany. The ship was originally designed as a “long-hulled” ship, but construction was paused in 1946. She was eventually upgraded to an SCB-27 design and commissioned in 1950, and was the last Essex-class ship to be completed.
In 1952, the ship played host to a dance performance by the Baller Theater of New York, now the American Ballet Theater, starring prima ballerina Mary Ellen Moylan.
The Oriskany operated in the Pacific, and earned two battle stars for her role in the Korean War and Vietnam War. One of the worst shipboard fires happened in 1966 on the ship when a magnesium was accidentally lighted, killing 44 men.
The Oriskany was decommissioned in 1976 and sold for scrap in 1995, but was repossessed two years later when nothing happened. It was decided to sink her to become an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico. After environmental surveys and processes to remove toxic substances from the ship, the USS Oriskany was carefully sunk to an upright position at a depth that recreational divers could reach. As of 2008, the Oriskany is deemed the largest vessel ever sunk to form a reef.