The Aeolus is a 426 foot long Navy Cable Layer and is resting in 120 feet of water with the highest decks at 85 feet. It was sunk as part of the artificial reef program in 1988. It is about 22 miles south of the Beaufort Inlet and 8 miles inshore of the U-352 and usually takes about an hour and a half to get to the site after leaving the inlet.
During the summer, the water temperature ranges from the upper 70's to the low 80's. Visibility averages 50 feet but can get up over a 100 feet. The Atlantic Sand Tiger shark is present in the spring and the fall. There are usually schools of amberjack swimming around the wreck as well as sea bass and tropical fish.
The Aeolus was originally was named the Turandot, an attack cargo vessel. Her primary duty was to transport troops home from the Pacific at the end of World War II. She made the two-week voyage many times until she was decommissioned in the early part of 1946 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Her mane was removed from the Navy's list one year later and she sat in mothballs for the next seven years in the Reserve Fleet.
In the fall of 1954, she was brought out of mothballs and was put back into service as a navy cable layer. She was renamed Aeolus after the Greek god of the winds in May of 1955. She laid cable in the Atlantic and performed surveys in the West Indies, the Bahamas, and off of Charleston South Carolina. This tour lasted for eight months. After which, she was transferred to San Francisco to perform the same duties in the Pacific until 1986. After 42 years of service, she had logged 249,114 nautical miles. After leaving the Pacific, she returned to James River as part of the Reserve Fleet.
In 1987, the Aeolus was transferred to the state of North Carolina to become part of the artificial reef program. After six moths of cutting, cleaning, and removal of doors and loose objects, she was ready for her new home on the seafloor. On July 29, 1988 the Aeolus was towed into position to take on her new role as an artificial reef. Once in place, 38 pounds of explosives were placed on the inside of her hull. When the explosives were detonated, 4, 2-foot holes were blown in the hull. Two of the charges on the port side were knocked loose before they were detonated, which caused the Aeolus to come to rest on her starboard side.
While the Aeolus was a nice wreck and visited by many divers, she had yet to reach her full potential as an artificial wreck. In September of 1996, Hurricane Fran passed over the Aeolus. Even at a depth of 120 feet, the churning waters affected her. As the first charters returned to the Aeolus after the hurricane, the wreck didn't return the signature she had always given. As the divers descended to the ocean floor, they saw a different wreck. The Aeolus was now in three pieces. The bow was still on its starboard side, the middle section was at a 60-degree angle, and the stern was completely upright. The wreck was also in an L-shape, instead of a straight line. Because of the breakage, the decks are more visible and the Aeolus is a much more interesting wreck.