Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Akitsushima

No visiting diver should consider leaving Coron without courting this beauty. The only true warship of the fleet, she was just two years old at the time of her sinking. I bet the Japs were well pissed off.

Sleekly designed, she had her own seaplane which could be lifted from deck to sea via her crane at the stern. She's 118m long with a berth of 15.7m and lies on her port side in a maximum depth of 38 metres.

The visiblity here is only 5-15 metres, depending on time of month and currents. But she's a stunning dive. The crane and radio tower are intact, though mystery surrounds the fate of the seaplane. A couple of anti-aircraft guns are visible. A massive crack two thirds of the way towards the stern provides easy penetration to the lower decks and engine room. This huge rent in her deck was caused by a torpedo strike to her starboard side, and this hole is a better entry point if you're going straight for the engine room. Visibility is a lot better inside, and the swim-through is fantastic, all the old pipes, wheels and walkways are still in place, though several experienced divers believe parts of her are ready to drop. So swim around the engine, not under it. As this engine was diesel, it was not salvaged; steam engines carried more valuable metal parts. The control room can be entered by one diver at a time, and several guages can be seen in there.

I dived this one 6 or 7 times, and it wasn't enough. But, being low season, it's too expensive to take the boat to her and her neighbour, the Okikawa, as they are in the next bay along from the four most visited wrecks. Next time, then.

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