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Marine Park

October 29, 2016
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Labuan Marine Park is located in the Federal Territory of Labuan, an International Offshore Financial Centre and duty free port. Labuan Island is located 115 km away from the Kota Kinabalu and is accessible by air or ferries. The marine park is located just 8 km off the coast of Sabah at the mouth of Brunei Bay. This park consists of Pulau Kuraman, Pulau Rusukan Besar and Pulau Rusukan Kecil. The white sandy beaches on these islands make them a favourite place for day-trip picnic and a time of relaxation. These islands are uninhabited and permission is required to camp here. If you are not into diving, snorkelling and swimming are other activities you can do here. Jungle trekking at the bigger island of Pulau Kuraman is also possible. Fishing is allowed further away from the marine park. Four shipwrecks has been identified: two from World War II and two from the 1980's. These ships lie in 100 to 115 feet of water with the top portions at 25 to 75 feet. Visibility varies greatly from season to season and is anywhere from 20 feet to 70 feet. These wreaks are named 'Cement wreak', 'American Wreak', 'Australian Wreak', and 'Blue Water Wreak'. The type of diving on these wreaks ranges from novice to serious penetrations into the hulls. The 'Cement Wreak' is the most suited for novice divers. For the Blue Water Wreak', one must be an advanced diver with deeper diving experience logged. To penetrate into the above two wreaks or to dive the 'American' or 'Australian' wreak. one must be certified in a wreak diver specially or have logged experience in wreak diving.
 

American Wreck

The American Wreck has a rich and tragic history, having been capsized during the WWII era with the loss of 9 lives. Diving about The American Wreck fills divers with a sense of sadness at the devastation caused by the mine which literally blasted the US Navy mine sweeper out of the water and broke it in half on 8 June 1945. The poignant feelings heighten when one comes across the plaque listing the names of the 9 servicemen who perished. The plaque designed by Dick and Wayne Shafer was placed on the wreck by members of the Brunei Sub Aqua Diving Club (BSADC) in 2007. The journey back in time is complete with the sightings of bullet clips, depth chargers, wire bottles and canon artefacts still left intact at this tangled mass of a shipwreck. The wreak lies south-east of Rusukan Kecil Island, 1.4 km away from the Australian wreak and about 24 km from Labuan. A US Navy Minesweeper, formerly the USS Salute, built in Seattle, Washington, in 1943. It was first put into service in Hawaii in 1944 escorting convoys between Pearl Harbor and several ports in the Far East. Later it was involved in intense action, providing protection for anti-aircraft vessels and submarines, as well as minesweeping operations in the Phillippines. After several operations in the Brunei Bay, the ship struck a mine in 1945 and nine US sailors lost their lives when she sunk.


Australian Wreck

The Australian Wreck provides a very atmospheric dive thanks to the combination of the less than 10-metre visibility, rich coral growth, the skeletal remains of the ship, her tragic end and reputation to be haunted. Originally a Dutch cargo and passenger steamer built in 1890, it was scuttled by the Dutch during WWII to prevent the Japanese from using it. The enterprising Japanese, however, managed to salvage it, renamed it ‘Imbari Maru' and put it to service as a cargo vessel. Fleeing Borneo towards Manila, she hit a mine and sunk 23km southwest of Labuan in 1944. Originally believed to be struck by a bomb from the Australian air force, the name stuck till today. 339 people lost their lives including many female prisoners (comfort women) as the Japanese took to the life boats. Some divers believe the wreck to be haunted by the ghosts of these tortured souls. Who knows, sightings of a lady in flowing white robes weaving through the ship may very well be the resident marbled ray. Only one way to find out – dive and see for yourself! This wreaks lies south-west of Rusukan Besar Island about 23 km from Labuan and is anything but Australian. It is the wreak of a cargo and passenger steamer originally named SS De Klerk, built in the Dutch West Indies. During World War II the Dutch scuttled the ship to prevent it from falling into Japanese hands. But the Japanese salvaged the ship and renamed it the 'Imbari Maru'. In 1940 while on a voyage to Manila it struck a mine off Labuan and sank. 339 passengers lost their lives, mostly workers and prisoners of war. The wreak lies on the sea bed under 21 metres of water. Experienced divers will enjoy exploring the interior of the wreak. Others will appreciate the variety of marine life around it, including soft corals, lion fish and the seldom seen frog fish. It is a good subject for underwater photography.


Cement Wreck

Of the four wrecks of Labuan, the Cement Wreck is the shallowest with its super structure rising to 19m and the way it sits makes it the easiest to pass through and great for wreck diving training for beginners. Offering stunning underwater views with its top half covered by a coral garden and being home a wide variety of colourful marine creatures, the Cement Wreck also give rare whale shark sightings to lucky divers. It received its peculiar name because it sank while transporting cement to Brunei for the construction of the Sultan's new palace. Fondly known as the perfect shipwreck for the upright way that it sits on the sea bed, the wreck is stunningly beautiful with its top half covered by a garden of soft and hard corals, sponges and ferns; and the schools of small The 'Tung Hwuang' is a freighter that sank while transporting cement to Brunet for the Sultans new palace. It hit the Semerang Bank and sunk as it tried to reach Labuan for repairs. Fortunately no lives were lost. The wreak now lies east of Kuraman Island and just 21 km from Labuan. Sunk in 30 metres of water, It sits on the seabed in an upright position. It is the easiest wreak to navigate, making it ideal for training in wreak diving. Divers can swim around the cargo hold and docks. There is a wide variety of marine life to be found here including barracuda, turtles, lion fish and reef fish. Soft and hard corals grow on the surface of the wreak, which makes it the best Labuan wreak for underwater photography and has been dubbed the world’s most colourful and photogenic wreck.


Blue Water Wreck

The Blue Water Wreck (Mabini Padre) is a large Philippines fishing trawler, which caught fire and sank in 1981 with no loss of lives. Named after the crystal clear blue waters she resides upon, the wreck does not suffer much from inshore murk - benefits from being the furthest from the coast. On a good day, a 40-metre visibility is possible. The completely intact vessel with masts lies on its side and is further enhanced by an abundance of marine life – guaranteeing an interesting experience for wreck divers. This wreak lies northeast of Kuraman Island and is 34 km from Labuan. It gets its name from the very clear blue waters it lies in. Of all the wreaks this one has the best visibility. The wreak is the 'Mabini Padre', a large Philippines trawler, which caught fire and sunk in 1981. It is an interesting site for divers as it is completely intact. It also supports a wealth of marine life like soft corals, grouper and bat fish.


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