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The Akitsushima is Coron Bay's biggest navy-ships that sank after a huge torpedo hit in its fuel storage tanks.
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Undoubted the most famous wreck of Coron Bay is the 114 meter long seaplane-tender Akitsushima, because she is the one and only discovered navy-ship of this fleet (until now), which makes her special interesting to explore. After a disastrous torpedo-hit into the fuel-storage-tanks of the seaplane, caused a huge crack in the stern section, she sunk in between minutes and is lying now on her portside in 35m depth on sandy bottom.
This absolutely impressive dive site outside as well while penetrating this wreck, offers you many points of interest. The huge crane used to lift the unfortunately missing seaplane 'Emily' on and out the water, is still in place. A couple of 25mm AA-machine-guns you can see nearby the crane and beside the funnels. Of the two 12.7cm twin-guns there is only the turret left (the guns, as well any other valuable materials of all these specified wrecks, e.g. steam–engines and propellers, became already salvaged more than 40 years ago). The bridge-section is more or less collapsed, but the impressive radio-tower is still intact. Underneath the collapsed compartments of the bridge, down on the bottom, is a huge pile of debris, where you can see some gas-masks sticking out this mess, unless a ruthless diver took it already for his private treasure-hunting-collection. Inside, Akitsushima offers you a couple of very exciting routes through 3 different deck levels; at the elevator-system for the 12.7cm-guns in the 2nd and 3rd level are still alive ammunition to find. The gears of the crane inside the stern–section and, above all, the gorgeous engine-room, which contains 4 big diesels in place together with the commando-room, are one of the highlights. Though Akitsushima is not one of the bigger WWII-wrecks you can dive (114.8m in length), at least she is an absolutely beauty.
Although there are not that many corals to see on her body, supposedly caused by a special coating for navy-ships (there are some soft-corals on the hull and on the superstructure), the fish-life around this wreck is amazing. Underneath the stern is a common spot for a school of barracudas in reasonable sizes (up to 1m), batfish sweet lips, lion fish and the omnipresent scorpion fish. This wreck is sometimes also good for big rays and turtles. Occasionally strong currents, poor visibility (can drop down to 3m, maximum visibility up to 15m) and the depth makes this wreck to an advanced dive, and is not recommended for inexperienced divers. The penetrations are calling for a wreck-specialty certification.
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Neptune Dive Center is your best choice for diving in Coron, Palawan, Philippines.Neptune Dive Center is a full service PADI Dive Center. We offer the full range of courses from try-a-dives to divemaster from experienced and patient PADI Instructors. For certified divers we offer daily trips to our famous Japanese World War 2 wrecks and our beautiful reefs. Started for divers by divers, we strive to provide fun, personal,and safe diving.
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Akitsushima had suffered from minor damage inflicted by U.S. air attacks near Buka Island on 01 September 1942 and also received two direct bomb hits during "Operation Hailstorm" in Truk Lagoon on 17 February 1944. However, she remained afloat due to her very strong construction and state-of-the-art bulkhead design. In comparison, allied ships of similar purpose and design stood little chance to survive bombings like these.
After being repaired in Japan she was back to service in July/August 1944. Akitsushima arrived in Coron Bay almost at same time as Irako and anchored in the narrow sound separating Lajo Island and Manglet Island. During the attack she was first mistaken to be a destroyer escort (DE). An attacking plane scored a direct hit into the aft part of the vessel causing a tremendous explosion most likely of the fuel tanks for the flying boat. She capsized within a few minutes and sank.
She lies on her port side. The explosion almost tore the ship into two pieces and unfortunately the flying boat has disappeared. Only half of the metal on the starboard side and half of the metal on the bottom of the ship kept the stern from separating from the rest of the ship. The sheer extent of the damage has left many places to penetrate.
The crane used for lifting the seaplane out of the water is intact. The crane is lying on the sandy bottom and attracts schools of giant batfish and barracudas. One mounting of a 3-barreled AA (anti-aircraft) gun is still present at the front of the flying boat tracks. The internal damage is impressive which can be best viewed by wreck penetration.
This is a fascinating dive where you can see giant groupers, schools of barracuda hiding under the bow, and yellow fin tuna.
The Akitsushima is a Japanese Seaplane Tender, and one of the most requested dives in Coron. Her huge crane resting in the sand is a now a home for many fish. On the outside you can still find her anti-aircraft guns lying in the sand. A direct hit almost cut the Akitsushima into two pieces. The massive split now provides easy access inside. Many of the passages inside are small and good buoyancy is a must. Care must be used as live ammunition can still be found. Using nitrox 32 is a good way to boost your bottom time.
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