Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Labuan offers ideal diving conditions all year round for beginning, novice, and seasoned divers. Crystal clear waters and an opulence of shipwrecks have made Labuan the region's center for wreck diving. Four shipwrecks have been discovered so far. Two were sunk during World War II and the other two were commercial vessels that sank in the 1980s. Diving expeditions can be arranged to Labuan's four major wrecks: American, Australian, Blue Water, and Cement Wreck.
Located southwest of Pulau Rusukan Kecil, the American Wreck is the USS Salute, which is a minesweeper built in late 1943. It was sunk by a mine in 1945 and now sits on a sandy bottom at 33m. The Australian Wreck site lies approximately 23km from Labuan and southwest of Pulau Rusukan Besar. The identity of the ship is still uncertain. It was a freighter built in Rotterdam in 1900, captured by the Japanese in 1942, and sunk by the Royal Australian Air Force in 1945. Hence it was aptly named after its foe. The Cement Wreck is the MV Tung Hwang. It was a freighter, which hit a sandbank in 1980 while carrying cement for the Sultan of Brunei's new palace. Located east of Pulau Kuraman, it sits upright in 30m of water and its masts are 8m below the surface. The Blue Water Wreck sits approximately 34km offshore Labuan, northwest of Pulau Kuraman. It was the MV Mabini Padre, a Philippine trawler that sank in November 1981. Being further offshore, this wreck usually has the best visibility. Among all the wrecks, the Cement Wreck is the easiest to dive and is usually used for wreck-dive training. The American and Blue Water Wreck are for experienced divers only.