There is something about a shipwreck that haunts the imagination. Maybe it’s the horrifying thought of a ship going down and the loss of life entailed, or maybe it is the way these once glorious vessels that sailed the oceans lie broken on the sea floor. Whatever the reason, they hold a magnetic appeal for adventurous divers and photographers. And to be quite frank, many of these wrecks have been transformed by marine life into amazing underwater habitats for all kinds of marine life.
There is adventure and amazement in shipwreck diving. Here are some of the best sites you can explore.
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It is located in the Cayman Islands, and is ideal for first time wreck divers. Shallow waters mean you can dive all day. The 76.5m long Kittiwake sunk off Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach in 2011. Doors and hatches are removed, giving each room at least one exit point. Those with wreck diver certification cards can penetrate all five levels of the ship. The wheelhouse is shallowest. It houses the wheel and compass. Visit the two recompression chambers and the artificial diving bell.
This wreck is located in Grand Anse, Grenada. The Bianca C suffered a boiler-room explosion while it was anchored in St. George’s Harbor in 1961. A fire erupted. Two of its 673 occupants died. The Royal Navy arrived two days later and took the ship in tow. But it sank in 167 feet of water. Bianca C is the largest diveable wreck in the Caribbean. Divers usually begin their dive with a dip in its mid-ship swimming pool. Divers are fascinated with the micro environment here. The ship hosts a community of residents, including large, green sea turtles.
There is no better introduction to wreck diving in the Florida Keys than by exploring it’s most famous, the USS Spiegel Grove. This was one of the largest U.S. Navy ships. The main deck looks as long as a football field. Instead of grass however, you will find green lobed star corals and assorted whips and fans. Shine your light inside the interior walls of the wheelhouse, and you will see a thick layer of circular orange cup corals.
S.S. President Coolidge
Located in Vanuatu, this is the world’s largest wreck. The 200m luxury-ocean-liner-turned-troop-ship has dozens of mapped routes ideal for beginners, intermediate and advanced divers. Beginners should target the bow, a shallow pick at 20m. You will find rifles, gas masks and helmets on the promenade. Guides can lead you to the two cargo holds and the medical supply room.
USAT Liberty, Bali, Indonesia
The Liberty lies on a black sand slope, almost parallel to the beach and is only 30 m offshore. She was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-166 in January 1942. Liberty is almost completely covered in fabulously colored anemones, gorgonians and corals. It’s difficult to enter this wreck, but you can still see the boilers, guns, toilets, and anchor chain.
Small but mighty, the Jake Seaplane sits on top of a reef in only 60 feet of water in Palau. This is a remarkably intact World War II aircraft. In fact, it seems almost ready for take-off. If you squeeze inside the cockpit, you get a sense of what it was like for the plane’s Japanese pilots. The ship is located just a five minute boat ride away from the Koror dive shops.
Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
A British vessel, it was attacked from the air and sunk in 1941 while carrying a cargo of war supplies, including rifles, motor bikes, train carriages, and trucks. At 131 meters, this is a big wreck. You will have to dive more than once to see this ship completely. But remember, currents can be strong, and they flow in different directions at the surface and at the wreck.
Located in Scotland, this is among the best wrecks for cold water fans. It is located off the Orkney Islands of Northern Scotland. Scapa Flow close to the Orkney Islands is the graveyard of many WW1 German Navy ships. S.M.S Coln was a German cruiser in its heydays. You will see the graceful lines of an early 20th century warship. Many of the guns are still in place.
Located in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, this is probably the best wreck for sea life. The varied fish life makes it a fascinating dive. Eagle rays lay in stacks on the deck of the S.S. Yongala. Giant Queensland grouper patrol the stern. Sea snakes, turtles and clown fish also congregate on this 358-foot steamship. You will find this vessel 12 nautical miles off Cape Bowling Green in Queensland. This is an advanced dive.
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