Top 5 Wreck Dives Around the World

Divers experience a mix of excitement and awe when they first see a sunken wreck. The wrecks are not simply a historic vessel on the ocean floor - they are a living ecosystem inhabited by fascinating creatures, from sharks to the tiniest of crabs. Part of the intrigue is the story behind the ship’s demise.

Wreck Diver

We explore the top five shipwreck diving locations around the world.

1. SS President Coolidge, Vanuatu, South Pacific

Originally, the 650ft-long SS President Coolidge, now at a depth of between 69 and 240 feet, was a luxury cruise liner built in 1931. She was deployed as a troop ship during World War II but was hit by mines in 1942, while carrying more than 5,000 men. She sank within 90 minutes but miraculously, only two lives were lost.

The ship is now renowned among divers, with highlights including the famous statue of a woman riding a unicorn, called The Lady - still resplendent in the first-class dining room - the colourful coral and the diversity of sea-life.

2. The Yongala, Australia

The Yongala wreck off the coast of Queensland was the result of a tragedy in 1911, when the ship sailed into the path of a cyclone. The luxury passenger vessel had no telegraph facility, so there was no way of warning the captain of the weather conditions ahead. Those who died included all 122 people - passengers and crew - and a racehorse called Moonshine. The only body ever washed to shore was that of Moonshine.

The wreck was discovered in 1958 by a local fisherman. Shrouded in beautiful coral, she is now frequented by manta rays, octopuses, sea snakes, turtles, sharks and shoals of fish.

3. HMS Hermes, Sri Lanka

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier was lost during World War II off the east coast of Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) after being bombed. She was the world's first aircraft carrier, commissioned in 1924. She served with the Atlantic Fleet, before being assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet. Although many of the crew were rescued by a hospital ship, 307 people lost their lives.

Today, HMS Hermes rests in 53m of clear, warm water on her port side. The wreck is teeming with fish life and the guns, shells and propeller are still visible.

4. USAT Liberty, Indonesia

Lying just off the beach of Tulamben Bay, Bali, the Liberty is an easily-accessible wreck dive, as it's only a short swim from the shore. The United States Army Transport vessel was built in 1918 as a freighter in New Jersey. At the start of World War II, she was requisitioned by the US Army as a transport ship. On 11th January 1942, the Liberty was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The crew members were safely evacuated and there were no casualties.

Liberty Wreck

The remains of the ship rest in depths ranging from 26ft to 100ft and are filled with a wide variety of Indo-Pacific marine life which thrives in the warm, clear water.

5. Carthaginian II, Hawaii

Resting at a depth of 95ft off the coast of Maui, the 100ft vessel was a floating museum for more than 20 years. Prior to this, the steel-hulled, two-masted schooner served for decades as a mixed cargo freighter, before the Lahaina Restoration Foundation purchased her in 1973 for use as a whaling museum. The ship was sunk deliberately after she began to rust badly in 2003, with the intention of creating an artificial reef. After flushing the engine and cleaning the fuel tanks and lines, a team of experts sunk the Carthaginian II on 13th December 2005.

Colourful marine life including turtles, stingrays and frogfish frequent the wreck, which has established its own ecosystem and has turned into a thriving artificial reef.

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