Brunei Underwater World

My sister in into scuba diving. She is taking lessons and I remembered when I last stayed at the Empire, the company running the scuba diving lessons gave free vouchers. I think we threw our vouchers away but I did see a number of other people who took advantage of it. Anyway, I started wondering what is it in Brunei Waters that's available for people to see. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Apparently in Brunei waters, divers can either dive for reefs or wrecks. Littered in Brunei waters are a number of ship wrecks some old and some new. Some fairly unknown and when discovered was found laden with all sorts of treasures. That was the Chinese junk found a few years ago. Anyway, for the 99.9% of Bruneians who have no idea that there are shipwrecks out in Brunei waters, let me share with you the major wrecks that local divers dived to are as follows:

The Blue Water Wreck - according to divers this is the best wreck as it is in the blue water (best visibility) and hence the name. It's actually a Philippine trawler named 'Mabini Padre' which sank in 1981. It sank due to a fire on board. The marine life on the wreck is abundant especially as it is so far off shore and the wreck was less disturbed compared to other wrecks. According to divers, the wreck is home to Lion Fish, Barracudas, White Tip Sharks, Trevallies, Jacks, Mackerels and Tunas.

The Cement Wreck - this one is a Japanese ship named the M.V. Tung Hwang. It hit the Samarang Bank on the way to Brunei and was carrying a cargo of cement for the construction of Istana Nurul Iman in the early 1980s, hence the name 'cement wreck'. As most shipwrecks became a haven for the marine life, this one is no different. Among the marine life can be seen the Lion Fish, Cube box Fish, Moray Eels and schools of Bat Fish just to name a few.

The American Wreck - This is the USS Salute AM 294, Admirable Class Minesweeper. It sank after hitting a Japanese mine in June 1945 during the second world war. Nine American lives were killed when the ship hit the mine. From what I was told, the minesweeper was helping the allied forces sweep through Brunei Bay shortly before they recaptured Brunei which was then under the Japanese occupation. The ship had a very short life span. It was launched in February 1943 and was in service for just over two years when it hit the mine. The wreck is now home to yellow tailed barracudas.

The Australian Wreck - before the ship was properly identified, many assumed the wreck to be either an Australian ship that got hit by a Japanese mine during the second world war or it was a Japanese ship that got hit by an Australian tropedo. Hence the name, the Australian Wreck. Though it has been discovered since, that the ship was much older than thought. It was in fact a Dutch steamer named S.S. De Clerk and it was built in 1909. The Dutch Navy actually scuttled (sank) the ship in West Malaysia during the second world war but the Japanese found it and refloated it and renamed it Imaji Maru (some say Imbari Maru) and actually managed to use it again. It was during the sailing from Singapore to the Philippines that it struck its own Japanese mine off the coast of Brunei. What was sad is that, more than 340 prisoners were on board and they all died because they were chained up in the holds. And in case you are wondering, no divers ever mentioned about finding skeletons on board.

Other wrecks include the Bolkiah plus many other uncharted second world war wrecks. According to the Panaga Divers, the other shipwrecks include Toho Maru (1944), Pacific Boxer (1982), Petani Mistral (1995), Southern Glory (1993), Atago Maru (1944), Seng Ling II (1958) and a Sand Barge at BLNG (1970). I would welcome more inputs from enthusiastic Brunei divers out there.

Comments

Anonymous said…
BR does it again - more claims on the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures!
Anonymous said…
This is wonderful! Never knew that there were so many dive spots in Brunei. Why aren't the Tourism Board doing more to promote these spots?
BR Sister said…
There are over thirty dive sites in brunei waters alone. Even if you go diving twice a month, it'll still take you over a year to cover them all. And that's day diving, you can also do night diving where different species of sea creatures comes out and the environment looks a lot different, and you get to swim with the sea turtles!

Amazing what our backyard can offer.
Terry said…
There are bones on the Australian wreck if you know where to look. Even saw a Hantu Laut once on a dive.

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