Want to explore sunken ships, crashed planes and lost treasures beneath the surface? Wreck divers are known for their rugged activities of diving very deep, needing lots of equipment and bringing home artifacts – some rememberance of where they went and what they saw. For some it’s a bottle or a piece of brass, for others it’s china or crystal from the Andrea Doria, the Mt. Everest of dives. Many divers specialize in wreck diving while they become experienced in technical diving, or the other way around. Wrecks also make excellent underwater photography subjects.
Wreck Diving Top Destinations
Truk Lagoon, Truk
Truk Lagoon is unquestionably one of the world’s best shipwreck diving destination. The number, variety, and size of the wrecks and the spectacular marine life that grows on them are unequalled. In February of 1944, Japan’s fortress of Truk Lagoon was attacked by the US Task Force 58. More than 400 Japanese planes were wiped out and some 50-60 ships were believed sunk. The two days of devastating air assault created what is today known as the “Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon.” During the past 50 years, these lifeless hulks have been transformed into magnificent artificial reefs, some with greater concentrations of soft and hard corals, sponges, and marine life than the neighbouring coral reefs. Some of the 35 wrecks that have been charted & explored are the Fukikawa Maru, a 437-foot freighter that served as an aircraft ferry, the Shinkoku Maru, a 500-foot intact tanker, the Sankisan Maru, a 380-foot freighter, the Hino Maru No. 2, a 200-foot cargo vessel whose bow gun nearly reaches the surface, and several war planes. On these wrecks, you may find such wartime relics as military trucks, cases of ammunition, field artillery pieces, airplanes and propeller blades, sake bottles, and machine guns.
Scapa Flow, Scotland
Scapa Flow is in the Orkney Islands, and covers some of the best wreck diving sites in the world. During the armistice talks at the close of World War I, the German Navy was sent to Scapa Flow as a gesture of good faith. The ships were only allowed to have skeleton crews for basic maintenance. At one point the German admiralty feared a British trick to overwhelm the skeleton crews and steal the whole fleet. Upon a prearranged signal, the skeleton crews scuttled their ships by opening the seacocks. The German fleet was later salvaged, with the exception of 7 ships which were too damaged to re-float. These seven World War I wrecks became the core attraction for an area with many excellent wrecks to dive.
Red Sea, Egypt
The Red Sea is known for its fierce storms and chains of reefs and submerged islands. These can be a navigational nightmare for pilots who aren’t paying attention or for those caught in one of the storms. The proof of this is scattered at the bottom. Many ships have gone down and are now famous dive sites. The Thislegorm, the Carnatic and the Umbria to name only a few, the Red Sea is a wreck divers paradise. The Egyptian Tourist office offers a very extensive Web site on her wrecks.
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
Bikini Atoll opened to divers in June of 1996 to provide an economic base for a possible future resettlement of Bikini Atoll. Bikini was once the site of the postwar nuclear tests code named “Operation Crossroads” and its lagoon now offers a collection of wrecks with major historical significance. The sunken fleet includes battleships, destroyers, submarines, cruisers, attack transports and the only aircraft carrier wreck accessible to divers, the USS SARATOGA. At Bikini, you will witness firsthand the effects of a nuclear explosion on warships, as these are the only ships in the world ever sunk by an atomic bomb.
Labuan is Malaysian Federal Territory located 62 miles (115km) south of Kota Kinabalu and lies 5 miles (8km) off the mainland of Sabah (northern part of Borneo) at the northern Brunei Bay. Since early times, it has been a pivoting point in the maritime history of Borneo, with the first record of trading being visits by Chinese Junks to the Sultanate of Brunei. In the 1800’s, Britain and other Colonial powers used Labuan as a trading and coaling station. The Island saw a lot of action during World War II from both the Allies’ and Japanese navies and airforces. Up to now, Borneo Divers have identified four ship wrecks to dive on near Labuan; two from World War II and two from the 1980’s. These ships lie in l00-115 feet (30-35m) of water, with the top portions at 25-70 feet (8-12m). Visibility varies greatly season to season (and even day to day) from 20 feet (6m) to 70 feet (20m). They have adopted the names these wrecks go by locally: “Cement” Wreck, “American” Wreck, “Australian” Wreck, and “Blue Water” Wreck. The “Cement” Wreck can be enjoyed by Open Water (novice) divers. For the “Blue Water” Wreck you must be an Advanced Diver with deeper diving experience logged. To penetrate and dive into the “American” or “Australian” Wreck, you must be certified as a Wreck Diver Specialty or have logged experience in wreck diving.
North Carolina, USA
Bathed by the clear, warm waters of the Gulf Stream, the coast of North Carolina offers some of the best wreck diving in the United States. Whether interested in sight-seeing, underwater photography, maritime or military history, a technical diver or just beginning, from Cape Hatteras to Cape Fear, the numerous shipwrecks of North Carolina offer something for scuba divers of all interests and skill levels. Whether your into German U-boats or their victims, modern vessels or historical sites, you can find it here.
Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, USA
Wisconsin’s great lakes shipwrecks.