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Ah, how I love the wreck of the 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
How time flies... 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 that time: 27,8 m. At that time, I was a young Open Water diver (first level in the American Padi certification system) and I had only 16 dives on my log!
July 2015. Thirteen years later, I am Rescue Diver (3e Padi level, passed in March 2009), I have nearly 650 dives noted in my logbooks and a bulky underwater photographic case in my hands. This is my fourth or fifth stay in the beautiful Balinese region of Tulamben / Amed and I am back on the Liberty.
Wonderment intact, sensations not blunted. Throughout the week, I made a series of dives on the wreck, without getting tired of it. As in 2002, then in 2008 and again in 2011 and 2012...
Years go by, but every time I visit, the Liberty does not betray the previous memories. The site is still beautiful. A sure value. I would cry with happiness.
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 crowd, the trick is to come and dive very early, at daybreak.
Libertythe magic wreck
So here I am underwater again. After a few strokes of the fins, the shadow of the wreck becomes clear. Huge!
I shot the exuberant soft corals that colored the scrap metal. I come face to face with the humpback parrots - they are still there, oh joy! I go down to the 30 meters zone, to inspect the gorgonian that serves as home to the shy pygmy seahorses. I play with a school of glass fishes taking refuge behind a piece of metal sheet. I transformed 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 is a fabulous playground, with inexhaustible charms. Impossible to be blasé!
The history of the Liberty
Vessel USAT Liberty, before becoming the most famous dive site in Bali, has a long history. She is a 125-meter long U.S. Army freighter, built at the Kearny, New Jersey shipyards in 1918, at the end of World War I, and 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.
On January 11, 1942, during a crossing between Australia and the Philippines, with a load of railroad sleepers and rubber, it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, about ten nautical miles (19 km) southwest of the strait between Bali and Lombok.
Two destroyers, one American, the other Dutch, tried to tow it to the port of Singaraja, on the north coast of Bali. But the cargo ship, too damaged, took on water. The decision was made to beach it on the east coast of Bali, in Tulamben, in order to recover parts of the ship and its cargo. It remained there, in the bay, until the 1960s.
Tulamben is right at the foot of the impressive volcano Agung...who wakes up in early 1963.
Violent eruptions, accompanied by seismic tremors, explosions, lava flows and fiery clouds, left some 2,000 dead and a hundred thousand homeless in Bali. They also make sink for good the Liberty, which lies on its side and slides to the bottom of Tulamben Bay.
Since then, the wreck, broken, still lies there, between 6 and 35 meters deep, very close to the shore. The sunken ship has become an artificial reef, colonized for more than half a century by countless multicolored corals.
It shelters a very rich fauna, where you can find everything, from the smallest (pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, scorpion-fish, leaf-fish, ghost-fish, shrimps, moray eels...) to the most imposing (bumphead parrot-fish, schools of jacks, napoleons, some sharks and turtles).
See also my previous articles of 2008 on the Liberty :
Special underwater photographers: every time I go back to dive on the wreck of the LibertyI am moving to the Liberty Dive ResortIt's just a step away from the wreck. It allows to dive early in the morning, and, above all, they provide you with a private guide, for no more money than elsewhere. We are not bothered by a group of divers, it's a great luxury! It is not anymore the small resort it was, they developed a lot, but they remained oriented on the service to photographers. On the spot, you can also take photo lessons with the excellent Jeff Mullins. → See all my articles on the wreck of the Liberty
To find all the articles about this trip, click on the link below :