Our Vanishing Shipwrecks

Manila Bulletin, March 3, 2007 | Go to article overview

Our Vanishing Shipwrecks


Byline: CARLOS R. MUNDA, Jr.

There are many reasons to go scuba diving. In the Philippines, with its thousands of kilometers of coastline, even if one dives everyday for the next 100 years, it will still be impossible to see everything that the oceans have to offer.

This is true even in smaller areas like the Davao Gulf, where aside from the abundance of underwater flora and fauna, there are also an incredible number of non-organic points of interests for scuba divers ranging from curiously designed artificial reefs to World War II era shipwrecks that are scattered all over the seabed.

It must be remembered that during the last war, the Davao region was used by both the Japanese and American armies as a major staging post for their military campaigns in Mindanao. As a result the sea lanes, bays and harbors of the region became the battleground for Japanese and American ships.

Many vessels were lost on both sides. On record there were several Japanese cargo ships sunk at the mouth of the gulf, particularly near Cape San Agustin (which was a favorite hunting ground for US submarines), also a couple of midget submarines, troop transports, gun boats and submarine tenders.

From the American side, there is the US Coast Guard-manned army ship, FS-255 which was sunk by a Japanese torpedo on the eve of May 10, 1945, 1000 yards from the port in Talomo Bay.

SAD REALITIES

While most of the shipwrecks lie in waters that are too deep to dive, there are a few that rest well within recreational dive limits and are located very close to the shore. Unfortunately their easy accessibility also leaves them open prey to salvage crews that strip the metal from these historic sites to sell for scrap or private owners that arbitrarily deny access to them to general diving public. …

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