For divers, it's an unusual playground ... (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
For divers, it's an unusual playground ... (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)

A plane under the sea

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: Banda + Raja Ampat - October 2015

In Raja Ampat, we do not only find coral under water. There is also scrap of the Second World War. Fallen from the sky!

Wreck of Wai

Indonesia cruise from Ambon to Sorong, that I made aboard the Waow, allowed me to live an original experience: diving on aircraft wreck! The wreck in question is on the reef of Wai, a small island near the big island of Batanta, in the North Archipelago of Raja Ampat.

Pulau Wai. Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.
Pulau Wai. (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)

Until then, all wrecks on which I had the opportunity to dive - famous shipwrecks like theAmoco Cadiz in Brittany and the Liberty in Bali, and many lesser known in the Red Sea, Maldives, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. - all, therefore, were boats.

So, this November 4, 2015, when we announced the program of the day, I'm pretty excited. There is something unusual about diving on scrap that does not belong, for once, to the world of sailors, but to that of airmen! And it's also a bit of a dive into history ...

Waow burningUpdated 2018. The Waow, this magnificent dive-cruise boat aboard which I had the chance to embark on in 2015, no longer exists ... 😢 He unfortunately burned and sank, in Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia, at night January 31 to February 1, 2018. I refer you to the message posted on their Facebook page and on their site.

A remnant of the Pacific War

Wai Plane Wreck. (Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)The plane in question is an American fighter P-47D. It crashed at sea on October 21, 1944, during the Pacific War, during the Second World War.

He was part of a squadron of seven planes, part of the island of Noemfoor for a mission over the island of Seram. But on the return, surprised by the bad weather, soon run out of fuel, the pilots then opted for a ditching, thanks to a gap in the clouds. The detail of the story is reported right here and the, in English, at PacificWrecks.com. The seven men survived and were later recovered by the US military.

This is not the only plane engulfed in the area, but this wreck is between 26 and 33 meters deep, making it one of the few wrecks in the area easily accessible recreational diving. And its excellent state of conservation makes it a very nice subject of photography!

I'm lucky, because the visit, that day, is pretty good and allows me to do some pictures from afar, giving a good overview of the plane.

View on the propeller of the plane. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
View on the propeller of the plane. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The wreck lies between 26 and 33 meters deep. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The wreck lies between 26 and 33 meters deep. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)

When I returned to France, I started a search on Google to see what it looked like, this plane. Judging by this image provided by Wikipedia, a P-47D in flight, it has more mouth:

P-47D in flight, Tennessee Museum of Aviation. (Source: Kogo / Wikimedia)
P-47D in flight, Tennessee Museum of Aviation. (Source: Kogo / Wikimedia)

More than sixty years later, this warplane has become a pretty, hands-on reef that appeals to both fish and divers alike. And we see, by the position of the wings, that it is actually lying "on the back" in sand and coral.

For divers, it's an unusual playground ... (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
For divers, it's an unusual playground ... (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
Without a flash to illuminate it, the wreck is a shadow in the middle of the blue. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The wreck is a shadow in the middle of the blue. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
A shot of flash reveals the color of the coral at the end of the wing. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
A shot of flash reveals the color of the coral at the end of the wing. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The wreck attracts fish ... and divers. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The wreck attracts fish ... and divers. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
Gaterini shelter under the cabin colonized by beautiful alcyonaires of a bright pink. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
On the other side, near the tail of the plane, gaterins shelter under the cabin colonized by alcyonnaires of a bright pink. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
More than sixty years later, the propeller remained almost intact under its coral crust. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
More than sixty years later, the propeller remained almost intact under its coral crust. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
(Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The plane is placed upside down, on the bottom of sand and coral. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The plane is about fifteen meters long. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)
The wreckage is about 15 meters long. (Wai Plane Wreck, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia, November 2015.)

The plane is not very big, about fifteen meters long. It has been beautifully colonized by soft corals and attracts fish. We see an emperor angel fish, some batfish and I managed to scare shy gaterines who have taken up residence under the cabin.

I really liked this dive and my only regret is not being able to do it at nitrox (Air enriched with oxygen), which would have allowed me to hang out a little longer at this depth to make more images ... But a compressor failure, occurred during the cruise and irreparable at the time, forced us to to dive in the air.

We finish the dive going progressively up the reef of Wai, which I find rather monotonous, compared to the profusion of life to which Raja Ampat waters accustomed me, in the heart of the coral triangle. But the wreck in itself is worth seeing in my opinion as an underwater photographer. We do not have every day the opportunity to admire a plane from the Pacific War underwater.

🙂

I was the guest of Waow from October 27 to November 8, 2015, for this diving cruise called "Secrets of Seram". All opinions expressed here remain 100% mine. 

  Indonesia: Banda + Raja Ampat - October 2015

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