Indonesia: Banda + Raja Ampat - Oct-Nov 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:
In Raja Ampat, you can't only find coral underwater. There is also scrap metal from the Second World War. Fallen from the sky!
The wreck of Wai
The cruise in Indonesia from Ambon to Sorong, that I made on board the WaowI had the opportunity to live a unique experience: diving on a plane wreck! The wreck in question is located on the reef of Wai, a small island near the big island of Batanta, in the northern archipelago of Raja Ampat.
Updated February 2018. The Waow, this magnificent cruise-diving boat that used to sail the waters of the Indonesian archipelago, and on board of which I had the chance to embark in 2015, does not exist anymore... 😢 It unfortunately burned and sank, in the bay of Cenderawasih, in Indonesia, in the night of January 31 to February 1, 2018. I refer you to the message published on their Facebook page and on their site.
Until then, all wrecks on which I had the opportunity to dive - famous wrecks like theAmoco Cadiz in Brittany and the Liberty in Bali, and many others less known in the Red Sea, in the Maldives, in Thailand, in Malaysia, in Indonesia, etc. - all, therefore, were boats.
As a result, on this November 4, 2015, when the day's program was announced, I was quite excited. There is something unusual about diving on scrap metal that does not belong, for once, to the world of sailors, but to that of aviators! And it's also a bit of a dive into history...
A remnant of the Pacific War
The plane in question is an American P-47D fighter. It crashed into the sea on October 21, 1944, during the Pacific War of World War II.
He was part of a seven-plane squadron that left from the island of Noemfoor for a mission over the island of Seram. But on the way back, surprised by the bad weather and soon out of fuel, the pilots opted for a ditching, thanks to a hole in the clouds. The detail of the story is reported right here and theon the PacificWrecks.com website. The seven men survived and were later recovered by the US Army.
This is not the only sunken plane in the area, but this wreck is located between 26 and 33 meters deep, which makes it one of the few wrecks in the area easily accessible for recreational diving. And its excellent state of preservation makes it a very nice subject for photography!
I'm lucky, because this day, visi is rather good and allows me to make some pictures from far, giving a good overview of the plane.
When I got back to France, I did a Google search to see what this plane looked like. Judging by this picture provided by Wikipedia, a P-47D in flight looks pretty good:
More than sixty years later, this warplane has become a nice artificial reef, which pleases both fish and divers. And we can see, by the position of the wings, that it is in fact lying "on its back" in the sand and coral.
The plane is not very big, about fifteen meters long. It was nicely colonized by soft corals and it attracts fish. We saw an emperor angel fish, some platax and I managed to frighten some shy gaterins which took up residence under the cabin.
I really enjoyed this dive and my only regret is not to have been able to do it at the nitrox (oxygen enriched air), which would have allowed me to stay a little longer at this depth to take more pictures... But a breakdown of the compressor, which occurred during the cruise and could not be repaired at the time, forced us to dive with air.
We finish the dive by going up gradually along the Wai reef, which I find rather monotonous, compared to the profusion of life I am used to in Raja Ampat waters, in the heart of the coral triangle. But the wreck itself is worth the detour for me as an underwater photographer. It's not every day you get the opportunity to admire a Pacific War aircraft underwater.
I was the guest of the Waow from October 27 to November 8, 2015, for this dive-cruise named "Secrets of Seram". All opinions expressed here remain 100% my own.