This vessel, a Japanese Cargo ship, named after the Yalu River was used by the Japanese as a troop- and prisoners of war transport ship during World War II (Hell ship). She left Manila on December 13, 1944, with 1,620 POW’s, mostly American, packed in her holds, while about 1,900 Japanese civilians and military personnel occupied the cabins. As the ship closed in on the naval base at Olongapo in Subic Bay, US Navy planes from the USS Hornet (United States Navy Aircraft Carrier) attacked the unmarked ship causing it to sink on December 15, 1944. The ship was heavily damaged as it sunk just South of the Main Peer in the bay and it’s believed that about 100 men died aboard the ship from suffocation or dehydration during the two nights aboard, while nearly 200 others were killed in the bombing or shot in the water as they tried to escape.
The Oryoku Maru dive site, technically suitable for both beginners and more advance divers contains the remnants of this vessel. The wreck is located just South of the Main Naval Pier (Alava Pier) at a depth of about 18-27 meters (60-88 ft.). Many of the components from the hull, bow, stern, etc. are visible, yet masses of iron and metal can be seen scattered along the bottom of the dive site. Being so close to the pier parts of the wreck had to be blown up by the US forces to allow other ships free passage. The initial damage combined with the destruction made from post sinking demolitions has literally turned the wreck into an artificial reef, leaving not much left of the actual structure for modern divers to explore. However, the dive site has turned into a breeding ground for some of the most varied marine life in Subic Bay. There are a number of colorful corals, and several types of Clownfish, Barracuda, Jackfish, Spotted Sweetlips and other fish to be seen. The visibility at the bottom is fairly good making this site quite suitable for underwater photography. The many corals and assorted fish that habituate the site make for some great pictures!
We shouldn’t forget the fact that this site is a war grave, which in our opinion should not be disturbed. Furthermore, the position of the wreck just south of the Main Peer makes it completely off limits any time a visiting warship docks in the bay. As a result we very rarely dive on this wreck.
The Oryoku Maru dive site is occasionally closed for recreational diving by the authorities. Please contact us for more information about this wreck site.
- Latitude: 14° 48.75′ N
- Longitude: 120° 16.92′ E
- Copy and paste in Google Maps to view the location; 14° 48.75′ N, 120° 16.92′ E (Google Maps)