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

Liberty forever

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

  Indonesia: Lombok + Bali + Bangka - July 2015

Ah! I like the wreck of Liberty, in Bali. I go back regularly dive, never tired. She is so beautiful…

Thirteen years later

How time passes. I just checked in my old dive books: my very first immersion on the wreck of Liberty, in Tulamben, in northeastern Bali (Indonesia), goes back ... as of June 28, 2002! Depth reached at the time: 27.8 m. So any young Open Water (first level in the American Padi certification system), I had only 16 dives on the clock! ! !

July 2015. Thirteen years later, I am Rescue Diver (3rd level Padi, passed in March 2009), I have about 650 dives noted in my notebooks and a cumbersome underwater photographic box 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.

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.

Wonder intact, sensations not dulled. Throughout the week, I chained the dives on the wreck, without getting tired. As in 2002, then in 2008 and again in 2011 and 2012 ... The years go by, but on each of my visits, 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 Liberty is a very (too) busy tourist attraction. And it would not be the first site to be a victim of its success. But until then, everything is fine ... Every day, however, hundreds of divers turn the wreck into a jacuzzi with their bubbles. To avoid the crowd, the trick is to come dive very early, at daybreak.

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.

Liberty, the magic wreck

So here I am under water, again. After a few shots of palm, the shadow of the wreck is precise. Huge ! I shrapnel the exuberant soft corals that color the scrap. I come face to face with the humpback parrots - they are always there, oh joy! I go down in the zone of 30 m, to inspect the gorgon which serves as home to shy pygmy seahorses. I play with a school of glass fish refugees behind a piece of metal. I transform my guide Wayan into Chinese shadow back in the frame of the huge rudder ... This wreck is magical.

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

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
The humpback parrots of the Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, 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 cargo ship of the US Army, 125 meters long, taken out of the Kearny Shipyard, New Jersey, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, and assigned to transatlantic freight missions. He made his first crossing, from New York to Brest, with a cargo of horses, and made several other trips before her disarmament in May 1919.

In November 1940, the ship returned under military command. When the United States enters 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)

The January 11, 1942during a crossing between Australia and the Philippines, with a load of railway ties and rubber, it is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, about ten nautical miles (19 km) southwest of the Strait between Bali and Lombok.

Two destroyer ships, one American, the other Dutch, are trying to tow it to the port of Singaraja, on the north coast of Bali. But the cargo, too damaged, takes the water. Decision is made to fail on the east coast of Bali, in Tulamben, in order to recover items from the ship and its cargo. It remains there, in the bay, until the 1960s.

Tulamben is right at the foot of the impressive Agung volcanowho wakes up early 1963. Violent eruptions, accompanied by seismic shocks, explosions, lava flows and burning clouds, left some 2,000 dead and some one hundred thousand homeless. They also do sinking for good the Liberty, who lies down on the side and slips to the bottom of the 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 wreckage, broken, still lies there, between 6 and 35 meters deep, close to the shore. The engulfed ship has become an artificial reef, colonized for more than half a century by countless colorful corals. He houses a very rich fauna, where we find everything from the smallest (pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, scorpion fish, leaf fish, ghost fish, shrimps, moray eels ...) to the most imposing (humphead parrotfish, schools of trevallies, napoleons, some sharks and turtles ...).

Plan of Liberty.

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.
Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia. July 2015.

Diving on the wreck of Liberty. Tulamben, 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 wreck of the Liberty 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 on this trip, click on the image below:

Indonesia Travel 2015

  Indonesia: Lombok + Bali + Bangka - July 2015

  1. Ah! The Liberty! I spent my AOWD there and did my first night dive where the giant groupers took advantage of the bundles of our torches to hunt by gushing behind the hatches ...
    Thank you for these great memories revived by your photos, beautiful as always ...

  2. What memories, with the Liberty! Like you, dive regularly (2008, 2012 and 2014), and am ready to go back tomorrow at dawn! or this evening ! (The night dives on the Liberty with a good guide, magical! The last time, fell on the whole group of humpback parrots sleeping in a hold!). Or in the morning at dawn the same group of parrots posted as an army in front of the bow, to welcome us. Exceptional!
    Merci pour tous tes beaux articles, découvertes ou activateurs de souvenirs des voyages passés. 😉
    Mark

    1. @Marc Thiercelin: having a good guide with you is really the key to enjoy it at best ... Like you, I'm always ready to go back anytime! I realize that I had been a little "feignante" in 2011, I had not posted my photos on the blog. The dives were epic, it was a little rainy season, with big waves and conditions not always easy. So, we were quiet on the wreck, there were very few divers and all its wonders just for me and my guide ...

    2. I love your pictures and articles on Bali. Island that I love or I have already made 2 dives. What about the dives, my most beautiful I believe between the Liberty, the pyramids of Amed, my meeting with the mantas and a whale shark at Mantas Point, diving under a huge pontoon, a bit of funk at Crystal Bay after the briefing. And what about temples, village, beautiful landscapes! And the Balinese super nice and beautiful. I was based in Sanur and I dive with Atlantis all over the island, a Francophone club (given my level of English it helped me for the briefing) and especially an organization of thunder (one of the best I have seen). A big club but an individual service.

  3. It's almost an archeologist's job! Moving and beautiful photos from the bottom of the water! Congratulations to the photographer 😉

  4. Justice and Liberty!
    Can you tell me again what is the other wreck in Amed, reachable from the beach and not very deep? I had snorkeled there.
    Es-tu retournée à Amed sur terre ? Y a-t-il toujours les dragueurs des plages ? 😡 Et les pêcheurs qui partent la nuit et reviennent au petit matin.

    1. @Marie: the wreck of which you speak is the "Japanese Wreck", a small Japanese wreck in fact, very nice for snorkeling and macro photography.
      Je suis retournée à Amed, sur terre, oui. Toujours un bonheur de louer un scooter et de longer la côte, le nez au vent, de crique en crique. Les dragueurs des plages ne m’ont pas embêtée, j’ai été moins impressionnée par eux que par la concentration de touristes français au mètre carré… Du coup, j’ai fui jusqu’à la terrasse du Wawa Wewe II près de Lipah, pour admirer la mer en buvant en Bintang peinarde (je n’étais pas là assez tôt pour voir les pêcheurs rentrer), sans entendre parler français tout autour de moi… 8)

    2. I went there in September and there were very few tourists. As a result, draggers and lenders of snorkeling equipment did not have much to eat. Otherwise, I keep a marveled memory of an evening in a restaurant a bit chic, on a terrace overlooking the creeks, where a young Australian to whom I had done a service invited me. The heat refreshed by the wind, the moon, the sea, the alcohol ... 😉

  5. Beautiful pictures !!! Last May, we saw only a small part of the wreck in snorkeling, which we have already had a lot of eyes, but here I can not wait to return to diving (and maybe take my 7D there in a few years)!

  6. Bravo bravo j’ai fait une dizaine de plongées aussi là-bas et j’espère y retourner, en effet c’est magique….Petit matin départ des perroquets, chasse des murènes et des mérous la nuit…dans mon top 5. Bises 8)

  7. Thank you for this article, which made me want to dive on the Liberty! We returned from Bali, it was our 2nd stay and we still love as much Amed as you describe: scooter hair in the wind along the coast! Thank you for these beautiful underwater photos! I write an article on the subject with the video of my dive and I put a link to your article! have a good day !

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

199 Shares
Share192
Tweet
Pine2
Share5