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Morazán Maru, Olympia Maru:
The definitive name of this wreck remains a mystery to this day but he...


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Philippines > Morazán Maru, Olympia Maru > The definitive name of this wr > [View]

The definitive name of this wreck remains a mystery to this day but her configuration makes her most likely the IJN Taiei Maru or IJN Morazan Maru. It is also thought that the IJN Morazan Maru had been bombed and almost definitely sunk by US Task Force 38 in Manila harbor on 22 September 1944 making this wreck most likely the Taiei Maru.

To add to the confusion both IJN Okikawa Maru and IJN Olympia Maru had been misidentified as the Taiei Maru - in fact some dive operators continue to identify both wrecks as such!

Some of this confusion can be explained in that a quite modern civilian tanker of 9,929 tonnes named Taiei Maru and very similar to the Okikawa Maru did exist. However she had been torpedoed already on 21 August 1944 by the submarine USS Haddo and was thought to have sunk soon after.

All that is certain is that no less than six vessels, freighters and tankers served the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces under the name Taiei Maru and American sources do insist that two vessels with this name were sunk on 24 September 1944. It is obvious that even the Japanese were confused over the multiple same-naming of their ships!

It can be clearly seen that the vessel suffered from a series of direct hits in the bridge superstructure as well as into the hull. Most likely she received some below-waterline hits on her starboard side causing a tremendous explosion of the engine-room which finally led to her sinking.

The Morazan Maru is a Japanese freighter lying on her starboard side. This is a beautiful wreck dive where you can observe groupers, sweetlips, occasionally turtles and sea snakes. Hard corals cover the port side, which is only 12 to 16m below the surface. There are two resident trumpet fish that hang out half a meter over the port side corals. Many scorpion fish also live around the wreck area.

The big cargo rooms and the engine room allow easy penetration of this wreck for Wreck Certified divers. If you dive from 10am to 2pm on a sunny day you get a cathedral like effect from the beams of sunlight entering the cargo holds through the holes in the port side. The two massive boilers in the center of the ship are a big attraction. You can pass behind the boilers and see the damage resulting from one of the bomb strikes that disabled the ship. It is possible to pass from bow to stern without exiting the ship.

Philippines > Kogyo Maru > IJN Kogyo Maru was a Japanese  > [View]

IJN Kogyo Maru was a Japanese freighter carrying construction materials for building a runway to aid the Japanese war effort in the Pacific. Another survivor of US Task Force 38`s air attacks on Japanese shipping in Manila Bay and Harbor on 21 Sep 1944 she received sailing orders to transfer to Coron Bay and weighed anchor at 1730 the same day. She arrived in Coron Bay on 23 Sep 1540 and dropped anchor. The night was spent trying to camouflage her bridge and main deck. In the morning of 24 Sep at 0900 she was attacked by U.S. dive bombers. After she had taken several bomb hits the vessel sank killing 39 men.

Lying on her starboard side the Kogyo Maru is easily penetrated into all six holds and the engine room and bridge area. Kogyo Maru's second hold contains an impressive incline of hundreds of bags of cement. You can also see a small Bulldozer. Looking up the incline of cement sacks you'll see a Tractor and Air Compressor perched above it. The engines on these are completely intact and make sure you check out the Tractor's wheels.

Coming out of the hold you can swim up the foremast, now horizontal, and on your left side. At the top of the mast take a look at the crow's nest. Swimming back over the deck you can penetrate the bridge and engine room below it. Entering from the stern side for easier access you can swim through the cavernous engine room and look out through the bridge.

If air is low go up to the port side of the bridge and look at the soft corals growing there. If you have enough air; you can continue below deck level to the stern to take a look at the deck equipment for moving cargo. Pass around the stern and then go forward over the port side to return to the buoy line. On the way you will see the amazing hard and soft corals covering the side of the ship.

Philippines > Irako > Irako was built in 1937 in pre > [View]

Irako was built in 1937 in preparation for the anticipated war with the United States. She was intended to supplement the Combined Fleet's existing food supply ship Mamiya. Her design was similar to that of Mamiya, but she was smaller. Her warehouse was able to supply for 25,000 men over two weeks. A sister ship, Kusumi, was planned in 1942 but construction was cancelled after the start of the Solomon Islands campaign.

Irako had been underway from Japan to Taiwan today when she was damaged on 12 August 1944 by an unknown cause. Carrying a deck load of reconnaissance water planes she arrived in Coron Bay around 22 September 1944 and tried to hide her presence between Tangat and Lusong Island.

In the morning of 24 September a number of fighter bombers of Airgroup 31 expended their bombs on the vessel. Already by their first strike they scored direct hits into the midship section. Set ablaze on the bridge superstructure Irako began to sink over the bow. However, it took some time before she finally went down with considerable casualties.

Lying upright on the bottom her deck level is at 28 to 35 metres. Considered the best wreck dive in the Philippines the Irako is mostly intact, usually enjoys good visibility and has plenty of places to penetrate. Big groupers, schools of tuna and yellow fin, lion fish and scorpion fish live around this wreck. We were even lucky enough to spot a rare Shaded Batfish among the coral growth on the deck level toward the prow.

There is a beautiful deep wreck penetration through the engine room for trained, experienced and properly equipped wreck divers. Irako usually has the best visibility of all the wrecks in Coron Bay.

Philippines > USS New York > Resting on her port side, the  > [View]

Resting on her port side, the USS New York is still mostly intact except for explosive damage caused by salvage operations in her mid-section. Her 4 massive turreted deck guns and enormous propeller are completely intact. Given her somewhat shallow depth 18 to 30m, ease of access, and proximity to other wrecks New York is one of the most dived ship wrecks in Asia. The wreck can be dived by most divers.

This dive site allows beginner wreck divers the chance to have a look at a real historical wreck. They can examine the barrel of an 8in (200 mm) gun at about 18m and then they can continue the dive at the 14-18m depth to explore her coral growth. Her 117m length gives plenty of area to explore and corals, sponges and fish life have had over 60 years to convert New York into an amazing artificial reef. Scorpionfish are fairly common around this wreck.

More advanced divers can explore the propeller and deck areas. The mess deck has an interesting swim through of 60m with portholes above allowing light, but no exit. There are some other areas for experienced wreck divers. The boiler room can be explored on a single tank.

Those who can dive beyond recreational limits can access the engine room and machinery spaces. These are in excellent condition, with huge pipes, machinery and valve wheels. Penetration is generally made on twin tanks, with a reel and Advanced Wreck diver training. Both engine room entrances are posted with notices warning of the dangers to the untrained and there is a sobering memorial to a diver who lost his way and died inside the wreck.

Philippines > Akitsushima > Akitsushima had suffered from  > [View]

Akitsushima had suffered from minor damage inflicted by U.S. air attacks near Buka Island on 01 September 1942 and also received two direct bomb hits during "Operation Hailstorm" in Truk Lagoon on 17 February 1944. However, she remained afloat due to her very strong construction and state-of-the-art bulkhead design. In comparison, allied ships of similar purpose and design stood little chance to survive bombings like these.

After being repaired in Japan she was back to service in July/August 1944. Akitsushima arrived in Coron Bay almost at same time as Irako and anchored in the narrow sound separating Lajo Island and Manglet Island. During the attack she was first mistaken to be a destroyer escort (DE). An attacking plane scored a direct hit into the aft part of the vessel causing a tremendous explosion most likely of the fuel tanks for the flying boat. She capsized within a few minutes and sank.

She lies on her port side. The explosion almost tore the ship into two pieces and unfortunately the flying boat has disappeared. Only half of the metal on the starboard side and half of the metal on the bottom of the ship kept the stern from separating from the rest of the ship. The sheer extent of the damage has left many places to penetrate.

The crane used for lifting the seaplane out of the water is intact. The crane is lying on the sandy bottom and attracts schools of giant batfish and barracudas. One mounting of a 3-barreled AA (anti-aircraft) gun is still present at the front of the flying boat tracks. The internal damage is impressive which can be best viewed by wreck penetration.

This is a fascinating dive where you can see giant groupers, schools of barracuda hiding under the bow, and yellow fin tuna.

Philippines > San Quentin > Deliberately scuttled in 1898, > [View]

Deliberately scuttled in 1898, to block entrance to Subic Bay during the Spanish-American war, the San Quentin has been underwater for over 100 years. Whilst she has been mostly flattened by a combination of storms and time the bow and stern sections are still easily recognizable as are the large upright steam boilers. More than a century underwater has transformed this wreck into a thriving artificial reef and it is covered with a luxuriant growth of soft corals, sponges and crinoids, and populated with a dazzling array of fish and invertebrates. Apparently over 20 species of nudibranch have been identified here.

Philippines > Olympia Maru, Tangat Wreck > The IJN Taiei Maru has been se > [View]

The IJN Taiei Maru has been seemingly misidentified as the IJN Olympia Maru - in fact some dive operators continue to identify her as such! The ship was built for Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha Ltd. Although she was requisitioned by the Japanese Defence Forces during the War she was still technically owned by Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha Ltd up until she sank.

Laden with 1,250 tons rice and other supply materials for the Japanese occupation forces in the Philippines Olympia had suffered one direct bomb hit while in Manila Bay on 21 September. When Japanese Southern Army Command received air warnings on a second attack the vessel was ordered to relocate to Coron Bay. She arrived on 23 September at 1540 and dropped anchor just West of Tangat Island.

On 24 September around 0900 about 40 dive bombers attacked Olympia Maru. She immediately weighed anchor and tried to evade the attacking planes. 10 aircraft attacked from starboard then a second wave attacked from her port side. But it was not until the third wave when the bombers scored direct hits to the engine room causing an explosion of the fuel tank at port side (the vessel was Diesel-engined!).

Olympia Maru now sits upright on the bottom and is very close to Tangat Island in Coron Bay. It is a very good dive spot with a variety of marine life. Large shoals of banana fish, giant bat fish and giant puffer fish, especially around the mast, bow and stern. There are also specimen crocodile fish and scorpion fish so be careful where you put your hands. Easy wreck penetration at the cargo rooms. It offers a good opportunity to discover wreck diving.

Philippines > Seian Maru > The IJN Seian Maru was an Impe > [View]

The IJN Seian Maru was an Imperial Japanese Navy Merchant Tanker. After running aground on the 17 December 1946 she was refloated and escorted into Subic Bay by a submarine chaser. She and the submarine were both bombed and sunk by US Aircraft on the 19 December 1944, only 4 days after the sinking of the Oruyko Maru.

It is difficult to trace the history of the Seian Maru as there were three ships with that name in use by the IJN during World War II and all three ships were sunk during the war. The US Navy pilots who sank her identified her as a merchant tanker. IJN records show that she had been converted to a tanker and then converted back to a cargo vessel.

That the wreck was called Seian Maru has been proven beyond doubt as the name is still visible on her hull. IJN Seian Maru now lies on her port side. She suffered severe damage to her mid-section when sank and the violence of her demise is evident from the twisted and torn metal of her hull.

Philippines > Black Island Wreck, Nanshin Maru > The so-called "Black Island Wr > [View]

The so-called "Black Island Wreck" can be easily identified as a small tanker converted to carry specific fuel (gasoline, Diesel, lube oil etc.) in small isolated tanks for replenishment of land-based depots. It is in fact of certain interest that there were more than 30 identical vessels of the Nanshin Maru type in operation for the Imperial Japanese Navy. These coastal tankers were very slow and unarmed. And due to their cargo they were vulnerable even to machine-gun fire from attacking aircraft.

According to US sources, Nanshin Maru No. 27 was travelling in convoy with Nanshin Maru No. 25, Nanshin Maru No. 3 and another vessel which might have been some sort of tug boat. The submarine USS Guitarro attacked the small convoy on 27 August 1944 sinking Nanshin Maru No. 25. Damage was also inflicted on the other vessels. It is assumed that the submarine attacked the Japanese vessels with her guns as torpedoes were too expensive to be wasted for minor enemy supply ships. Nanshin Maru No. 27 then continued to proceed to Busuanga and entered Illulucut Bay south of Calawit Island where she was probably anchored to attempt repairs. It is reported that she sank on 13 September 1944 at the mouth of the Bay by unknown cause. The vessel was most likely abandoned and drifted in the tidal current towards Malahon Island. ("Black Island") where she ran aground and finally sank.

She now sits upright on a sloping sandy bottom with her shallowest part at 21m. This wreck is located 3.5 hours away from Coron so it must be dived as a day trip with a 7am departure. You would normally make one dive here and dive the Okikawa Maru as a second dive on the return trip. This dive site is perfect for beginner wreck divers. You can see plenty of scorpion fish, lion fish, trumpet fish, groupers, and bat fish.

Indonesia > Tulamben > Tulamben is a small fishing vi > [View]

Tulamben is a small fishing village on the north-east coast of Bali, Indonesia. It is among the most popular scuba diving site locations on Bali since the wreck of the USAT Liberty, a US Army Transport ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942 which lies just off shore, making this wreck an excellent shore dive. This is a chance to scuba dive on a real Shipwreck with a history - not an old fishing boat deliberately sunk to give diving tourists something else to look at!

This diving wreck lies in relatively shallow water, is greatly broken up and is considered appropriate for scuba divers of all certification levels. She rests in 30 meters of water, is roughly 25 meters from shore and can be reached with a short swim from the beach. The highest point of the wreck tops out about 5 meters from the surface. A few intact sections do remain which experienced wreck divers can penetrate if they have their PADI Wreck Specialty Licence. PADI Enriched Air is also a good one for the USAT Liberty wreck as it extends your bottom times, making your dive time long enough to appreciate her in her full glory.