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The history of Coron and wrecks

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Coron's history of wrecks

Before 1939, Japan – a land which is not blessed by natural resources, used to depend on the United States for supplies of ores and petroleum, to thrive their industries. It was under the term of U.S. President Roosevelt and Cordel Hull, the Secretary of State, that American supplies to the Japanese were held back. This was done with the intention to indirectly force the Japanese to end all belligerencies against China.


Coron's history of wrecks

After Japan stopped receiving the supplies of strategic minerals from U.S. they eyed the British and American colonies of the south to meet their demands for raw materials for their industries. As Japan attempted capturing the southern islands, it was only America which came in its way. The Pacific Fleet at the Pearl Harbour in U.S. was the only force which was capable of defeating the Japanese Navy. Another problem that Japan might have faced while its communication with East Indies was the American bases in the archipelago of Philippines. Oil tankers that were headed towards Japan needed to pass by Luzon – the northernmost group of islands in the archipelagic Philippines. At that time Philippines was under the reigns of America.


The Japanese, thus, contrived to declare war against America. First, it was a sudden attack on Pearl Harbour. Next, the Japanese usurped the U.S. bases at Guam and Wake islands. It was the same time that they also invaded Philippines. By that time the war had begun.


The Japanese went on putting up a fight and reinforce their forces to occupy Philippines, on 19th and 20th June, 1944, during the battle of the Philippine Sea, and 23rd to 26th October during the battle of Leyte Gulf.


Coron's history of wrecks

The history of Coron dates back to 24th September, 1944. It was when a US Navy and dive bombers attacked a Japanese fleet of 24 ships, full of supply, in Coron Bay and around the Busuanga Island. The way by which the U.S. Navy spotted the Japanese fleet is still a topic of debate. Few think the Japanese fleet was observed by aerial photo investigative interpreters, while others are of the opinion that U.S. had intercepted the radio transmissions of the Japanese. Whatever were the ways of spotting the Japanese fleet, it led to an abrupt aerial attack by the U.S. Navy carrier based aircraft. As a consequence the Japanese fleet sank at anchor.


Admiral William F. 'Bull' Halsey was the commander of the U.S. Third Fleet. Halsey was suffering from severe skin rash and was admitted in naval hospital at Pearl Harbour, and thus missing the battle of Midway. He did not had to miss the chance of getting at the Japanese navy at Coron. He designed the course of action from New Jersey. Later, the tactical control of the Third Fleet was with the genius Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, the commander of Task Force 38 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington.


Although Mitscher was confident of success yet he was well aware of the logistical risks that were involved. The U.S. carrier group was at a distance of 340 miles from Coron Bay. This meant that the U.S. pilots would only have enough fuel for a certain time span by which they had to return to their own fleet from their enemy positions at Coron.


The attack

Coron's history of wrecks

There were 96 Gruman F6F Hellcat fighters and 24 Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive bombers that took off on 24 September at 0550 hours. After a flight of 3 hours towards their target, the U.S. fighters tracked their 11 huge Japanese war ships and supply ships at anchor, at Busuanga Island.


The first to be attacked by the squadron of Curtiss Helldivers were Akitsushima and Okikawa Maru. The Akitsushima, a heavy and well armed sea vessel, initially fought back aggressively, but she was soon overpowered by hits from multiple directions, internal explosions and conflagration. Within about 15 minutes the Akitsushima gradually sank in between the passage of Lajo and Manglet Island.


Okikawa Maru was a ship of fuel oil. Quite evidently it hardly took any time for Okikawa to set ablaze and get maimed. Still, she kept fighting and floated gradually towards the north, but it sunk during a 'mop-up' assault on 9th October.


Coron's history of wrecks

Olympia Maru had withstood attacks from three American pilots, but as the fourth plane struck, the engine stopped functioning. She was left defenceless against any more attacks from the U.S. fighter planes. Slowly, the freighter sank with 19 crew members along with it.


The other ships also were devastated in a rapid succession by the bombings of the U.S. Navy. Kogyo Maru sank in the depth of the sea too, drowning with herself 39 seamen, near Lusong Island. Irako was a well-armed ship and had a wide range of flak guns. In the beginning Irako fought back vehemently but the end was no different than the other ships of the fleet. Irako went under the sea after it was overpowered by the U.S. Navy. The rest of the ships that were anchored at Coron Bay also went through the identical atrocity and eventually gave way in the same line of attack.


The final attack of the U.S. Navy was on the Japanese ship Kyokuzan Maru. The ship was anchored on the opposite side of the Busuanga Island, and she went on fighting even after she had been severely damaged by a number of dive bombings along with staffing runs. The mighty Kyokuzan Maru turned into a fiery hulk in no time and was scuttled by the Japanese.


Kamoi – an oil tanker of the Japanese, was the only ship that could manage to take escape way from Coron, in spite of the ruthless attacks that it endured by the U.S. Navy dive bombers. Later, she was known to have ported in Hong Kong.

A Brief Account of Coron Wreck Dive Sites

Irako Wreck

A bit about Irako

A Brief Account of Coron Wreck Dive Sites

The mighty Irako was a Japanese ship that weighed 9723 tons. 149.6 metres in length and 19 metres in width, Irako was a ship that Japanese used for refrigerate. She had two steam powered geared turbines, 8300 ship, and drove twin propellers. Irako could sail at a maximum speed of 17.5 knots. Irako could carry supplies for 25, 000 sea men for over two weeks.


Irako is considered to be the best wreck dive site in Philippines, by a lot of wreck divers in the world. Even today, under the deep sea, Irako stands quite intact. Irako suffered bombings mainly in her bridge-section which caused her to go to rest beneath the sea. At present Irako lies at the mouth of the Coron Bay, at N 11° 58. 059' and E 120° 02. 412'. Irako stands upright except the bridge area.


What can you see in and around Irako?

Irako boasts a good visibility. Once near her, wreck divers can come across schools of yellow fin, and tuna fish. Lion fish and scorpion fish also play around the wreck of Irako. It is also the homeground to sea turtles, and sea snakes.


If you are diving between 10 am to 2 pm, on a bright and sunny day, you could see the solar beams entering the vessel, creating an effect like in a cathedral. Two giant boilers in the middle of the ship, is also a great attraction for the divers. Once you pass the boilers, you can see the damage area of the ship that occurred due to bombings.


You could also venture into the Transmission room, starboard side, work station, and kitchen room.



Okikawa Maru Wreck

A bit about Okikawa Maru

The Okikawa Maru was a Japanese oil tanker, which was about 170 metres in length. It is the largest in terms of length, width and volume among all the other Coron wrecks. At present the Okikawa Maru lies at N 12° 1.128' and E 119° 58. 176'.


What can you see in and around Okikawa Maru?

Okikawa Maru, is now covered with beautiful bunch of coral reefs. Besides, a number of marine species can be seen in and around the age old tanker. Divers argue that if it is not the Irako, it is Okikawa Maru which is the most beautiful ship lying at the sea bed near Coron. You can play around with the shoals of colourful fish, in and around the wrecks of Okikawa Maru. At the bow of the hulk, you can see snappers and bat fish among many other species.



Akitsushima wreck

A Brief Account of Coron Wreck Dive Sites

A bit about Akitsushima

Akitshushima was the only seaplane maintenance ship that went under water in Coron Bay. The bombardment split the huge vessel of 118 metres long and 15.7 metres width in two in the front of the engine room. Akitsushima was powered by four engines run by diesel. The engines drove twin propellers that could let the war ship sail at a maximum speed of 19 knots. The war vessel now lies on her port side, at N 11° 59. 218' and E 119° 58. 417', between Culion and Busuanga Islands.


Akitsushima, the mighty Japanese war ship, was armed with ten 25mm anti-aircraft guns; four 5 inch (50 cal) guns and one huge Kanwanishi flying boat. After it was hit, the flying boat disappeared and was not to be seen again. The crane used for lifting up the war vessel is in one piece.


What can you see in and around Akitsushima?

There is a lot more to see in and around Akitsushima than just a variety of marine species like – snappers, groupers, batfishes, shrimps, and yellow fin tuna, because it was a sea plane maintenance carrier. You can see the crane, which is still intact and now attracts schools of barracudas and giant batfish.


At the front of the boat tracks of the huge Akitsushima, one can see the mounting of a 3-barreled AA gun. The engine room, with the giant engines at rest, is a great attraction of the Akitsushima.



Kogyo Maru Wreck

A bit about Kogyo Maru

Once a Japanese ship that would carry construction materials, now Kogyo Maru lies on her starboard side at 34 metres. She was carrying materials with which the Japanese planned to build a runway for the war effort in the Pacific. 129 metres in length and 18 metres in widh, Kogyo Maru weighed 6353 tons. Powered by two oil fuelled steam turbines, now, the vessel sleeps at N 11° 58. 782' and E 120° 02. 413'.


What can you see in and around Kogyo Maru?

You can see a number of things while you are at Kogyo Maru. You can swim through into all the 6 holds, and also through the engine room and the bridge area. The second hold of the vessel has toppled cement bags that Kogyo Maru was carrying with her. Move a little forward and you get to see a small bulldozer. There are also an air compressor and a tractor. Even the metal wheels are intact of the tractor. As you keep on swimming, you come to the vast and dumped engine room.


Once done with the mighty machines you can look around for the beautiful corals. Barracudas and other species of colourful fishes are likely to pass by you. You can also see giant puffer fishes, banner fishes, razor fishes and trevallies.



Lusong Gunboat

A bit about Lusong

Lusong is a gunboat or a submarine hunter, which was 35 metres in length. It is presently located at N 11° 58. 260' and E 120° 01. 447', at the eastern side of the Lusong Island. The stern breaks the water surface at the time of low tide.


What can you see in and around Lusong?

Lusong gunboat wreck is now a great place for snorkelling. It is now covered with beautiful hard corals and thus attracting a variety of marine fishes. Lusong is a favourite place for wreck photographers.



Olympia Maru Wreck

A bit about Olympia Maru

The Japanese Freighter which was 122 metres in length and 17 metres in width sank down in the deep sea and rests there in an upright position in about 30 metres of water. A ship of 5612 tons, it is now located near Sangat Island in Coron Bay, at N 11° 58. 291' and E 120° 03. 707'.


What can you see in and around Olympia Maru?

Easy penetration at the cargo rooms of the Olympia Maru is possible, and there are quite a few things to look around there.


Shoals of banana fish, giant bat fish and puffer fish can be seen around the stern, mast and the bow. The marine life is more diverse here. Crocodile fish and scorpion fish can also be found here. Divers often get to see interesting things around Olympia Maru.



Morazaan Maru Wreck

A bit about Morazaan Maru

A Japanese ship of about 140 metres now lies on the sea bed near Coron. It is a recent re-examination of this ship that has ascertained it as Morazaan Maru. Earlier, it was mistaken as Olympia Maru.


What can you see in and around Morazaan Maru?

Morazaan Maru is now a hard coral mantle. This is a wonderful sight for the divers. There is easy penetration in the huge cargo compartments and the engine room. Keeping your eyes open would reveal a number of things in this wreck.


Scorpion fishes frequent the wreck of Morazaan Maru. Apart from them, sweet lips, sea snakes, giant groupers and turtles can also be spotted near this wreck.



Sangat Sub Chaser

A bit about the Sangat Sub Chaser

The Sangat Sub Chaser is now reposed on the eastern side of Sangat Island.


What can you see in and around Sangat Sub Chaser?

The Sangat Sub Chaser is a wonderful wreck diving site for amateurs and beginners. A dive photographer would love to be here for obvious reasons. Sangat Sub Chaser site is a popular dive site for enjoying snorkelling too.



Nanshin Maru Wreck

A bit about Nanshin Maru

Nanshin Maru is known as “Black Island Wreck” was 50 metres long. It sits upright on the sandy bed of the sea. Nanshin Maru was a small tanker that would carry diesel, lube oil, gasoline etc.


What can you see in and around Nanshin Maru?

Scorpion fish, lion fish, trumpet fish, bat fish and groupers are common at the Nanshin Maru wreck. It is a lovely wreck spot for the diver photographers to go on shooting. It is a wreck that even beginners can try diving into.


Nanshin Maru is located about 3.5 hours from Coron. For the long distance of this wreck from Coron, Nanshin Maru is only covered when divers request for it. It is a day’s dive and you have to depart early in the morning in order to explore the wreck.



Kyoguzan Maru Wreck

A bit about Kyoguzan Maru

Kyoguzan Maru which stretched approximately from 160 to 180 metres, weighed about 5000 tons. The ship is still almost intact.


What can you see in and around Kyoguzan Maru?

Kyoguzan offers good visibility, and has ideal diving conditions, which is a piece of good news for the beginners. The ship still has the Japanese staff cars and trucks in the cargo room. Kyoguzan is a charming wreck site for the divers.


Kyoguzan wreck is also located a bit far from Coron, but on special requests by the divers, the wreck dive to this beautiful wreck can be 

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