Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Photo by Corinne Bourbeillon / PBdA

Liberty forever

#Bali # Indonesia

  Indonesia: Lombok + Bali + Bangka - July 2015

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

Ah! I like the wreck of Libertyin Bali. I go back to dive there regularly, without ever getting tired of it. She's so beautiful...

Back to the Libertythirteen years later

As time goes by... I just checked in my old diving logs: my very first immersion on the wreck of the LibertyThe first documented case of a new project in Tulamben, northeast Bali, Indonesia, dates back to... June 28, 2002! Depth reached at the time: 27.8 m. Then as a young Open Water (first level in the American Padi certification system), I had only 16 dives on the meter ! !

July 2015. Thirteen years later, I am Rescue Diver (3e Padi level, passed in March 2009), I have nearly 650 logged dives in my logbooks and a bulky underwater camera in my hands. This is my fourth or fifth stay in the beautiful Balinese region of Tulamben / Amed and I dive again on the Liberty.

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Play of light on the sunken and gorgonian-covered remains of the Liberty wreck, in front of Tulamben beach in Bali. (Indonesia, July 2015)

Wonder intact, sensations not blunted. Throughout the week, I do a series of dives on the wreck, without tiring. As in 2002, then in 2008 and again in 2011 and 2012...

Years go by, but every time I visit, the Liberty do not betray previous memories. The site is still beautiful. A safe bet I would cry for happiness.

See as well → All my articles on the Liberty in Bali

Because the wreck of the Liberty is a very (over)frequented tourist attraction. And it wouldn't be the first site to fall victim to its success in Bali. But so far, so good...

Every day, however, hundreds of divers turn the wreck into a jacuzzi with their bubbles. To avoid the crowds, the trick is to come and dive very early, at daybreak.

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
The wreck of the Liberty. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Impressive pink and orange gorgonians developed on the wreck of the Liberty, which over the years became a splendid artificial reef well colonized by the fixed coral fauna. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)

Libertythe magical wreck

So here I am underwater again. After a few strokes of the flippers, the shadow of the wreck becomes clearer. Huge! 

I'm shooting the exuberant soft corals that color the scrap metal. I come face to face with the humpback parrots - they are still there, O joy! I go down into the 30-metre zone, inspecting the gorgonian gorgonian seahorse that serves as a home for timid pygmy seahorses. I play with a shoal of glass fish taking refuge behind a piece of sheet metal. I turn my guide Wayan into a Chinese shadow on the way back, in the frame of the huge rudder... This wreck is magical.

The site is gigantic, it's a fabulous playground with inexhaustible charms. Impossible to be jaded!

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
My guide Wayan seems very small next to the gigantic sunken ship. (Liberty Wreck, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
The wreck of the Liberty is huge! (Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Large coloured sponges have covered some of the structures. (Wreck of the Liberty, Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Here, gorgonians and alcyonians compete for the remains of the Liberty. (Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
A simple torch is all it takes to explore the wreckage of the Liberty. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
The humpback parrots of the Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Humpback parrots are regulars at the wreck of the Liberty. We usually have a good chance of encountering them early in the morning, just after sunrise. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
The dance of the glass fish... (Wreck of the Liberty, Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
My guide Wayan poses in the frame formed by the ship's gigantic rudder. (Wreck of the Liberty, Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)

The history of Liberty

Vessel USAT Liberty, before becoming Bali's most famous dive site, has a long history. It is a 125-metre-long US Army cargo ship, which left the Kearny Shipyards in New Jersey in 1918, at the end of World War I, and was assigned to transatlantic cargo missions.

He made his first crossing, from New York to Brest, with a cargo of horses, and made several other trips before disarming in May 1919.

In November 1940, the ship returned to military command. When the United States entered the Second World War in December 1941, the Liberty is in the Pacific.

Hooked: the Liberty when it left the shipyard in 1918. On the right, the Liberty in 1941. (Photos: navsource.org)
Left: The Liberty when it left the shipyard in 1918. On the right, the Liberty in 1941. (Photos: navsource.org)

On 11 January 1942, during a crossing between Australia and the Philippines, with a load of railway ties and rubber, she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, about ten nautical miles (19 km) south-west of the strait between Bali and Lombok.

Two destroyers, one American, the other Dutch, attempt to tow it to the port of Singaraja on the north coast of Bali. But the freighter, too badly damaged, takes on water. The decision is made to beach it on the east coast of Bali, in Tulamben, in order to recover parts of the ship and its cargo. It remains there, in the bay, until the 1960s.

Tulamben is right at the foot of the mighty volcano. Agung...who wakes up in early 1963.

Violent eruptions, accompanied by seismic tremors, explosions, lava flows and fiery clouds, have left some 2,000 people dead and 100,000 homeless in Bali. They also sink the Liberty, which lies on its side and slides to the bottom of Tulamben Bay.

Photos and illustration of the Gunung Agung eruption in 1963. (Sources: volcano.si.edu / dgi-indonesia.com)
Photos and illustration of the Gunung Agung eruption in 1963. (Sources: volcano.si.edu / dgi-indonesia.com)

Since then, the wreck, broken, still lies there, between 6 and 35 meters deep, close to the shore. The sunken ship has become an artificial reef, colonized for more than half a century by countless multicoloured corals.

It shelters a very rich fauna, where you can find everything from the smallest (pygmy seahorses, nudibranches, scorpion fish, leaf fish, ghost pipe fish, shrimps, moray eels...) to the most imposing (humpback parrot fish, schools of jacks, napoleons, a few sharks and turtles).

Plan of Liberty.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
The immense wreck and its structures remain very impressive, almost sixty years after the Liberty sank. (Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
The wreck was heavily colonized by fixed underwater fauna. (Wreck of the Liberty, Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Can't get enough of the wreckage of the Liberty! (Bali, Indonesia, July 2015)

See also my previous articles of 2008 on the Liberty :

Dive without getting wet
Liberty, Bali's most famous wreck
The Liberty wreck in video
I like Amed

Special underwater photographers: every time I go back dive on the wreck of Liberty, I move to Liberty Dive Resort, close to the wreck. It allows to dive early in the morning, and, above all, they provide you with a private guide, for no more than elsewhere. We are not bothered by a palanquée, it's the luxury! This is not the small resort that it was, they developed a lot, but they remained oriented on the service to the photographers. On site, you can also take photo classes with excellent Jeff Mullins.
→ See all my articles on the wreck of Liberty

To find all the articles about this trip, click on the link below :

  Indonesia: Lombok + Bali + Bangka - July 2015

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