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The diving wreck located near the pretty beach of Black Island is also wrongly known as the Nanshin Maru.
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|Black Island Wreck, Nanshin Maru
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The dive-site Black Island Wreck is also called Nanshin Maru Wreck, which imply a Japanese origin of this sunken ship. In fact, that is not true. Though the origin is still unclear, for sure it is not one of the Japanese ships belonged to the fleet attacked by US-Aircraft in September 24, 1944. Most likely it is an American vessel (coastal-oiler) sunk sometime after WWII in a typhoon. On one dive a couple of years ago, I could spot out a pretty hidden plate in the empty engine-room with technical specifications in English language. The location of the wreck is pretty close to the fabulous beach of Black Island, one of the most mysterious and beautiful islands in this area; it looks like a perfect pirate island.
The over-length of the vessel is around 45m and she is resting in a upright position, angled to port, on a sandy slope, so the bow is the deepest part in 34m, the stern is in around 20m. While already close to the open sea of the South China Sea, the visibility there is most of the time quite pleasant with around 15-20m, usually no current. Because of the size there are not a lot of options to penetrate the wreck, only the engine room, some parts of the bridge and the empty cargo – but the spaces there are pretty narrow and maybe good for one diver only. Marine life is quite pleasant with a lot of interesting small stuff, big sized Emperors, batfish, lionfish, a lot of angel fishes and anemone-fishes, sometimes sea snakes and with good luck you can encounter some pelagic, like sharks or bigger rays. Because of the quite remote location, calling for a bangka-ride of up to 3 hours, this divesite is very seldom operated from Coron-Town.
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There are still some people that believe this to be a Japanese war wreck. It is not. This wreck is most likely an American vessel that sunk during bad weather. The engine room and the empty cargo hold are the options for light penetration. The travel time of three hours to reach Black Island make this wreck difficult to dive by day trip.
The so-called "Black Island Wreck" can be easily identified as a small tanker converted to carry specific fuel (gasoline, Diesel, lube oil etc.) in small isolated tanks for replenishment of land-based depots. It is in fact of certain interest that there were more than 30 identical vessels of the Nanshin Maru type in operation for the Imperial Japanese Navy. These coastal tankers were very slow and unarmed. And due to their cargo they were vulnerable even to machine-gun fire from attacking aircraft.
According to US sources, Nanshin Maru No. 27 was travelling in convoy with Nanshin Maru No. 25, Nanshin Maru No. 3 and another vessel which might have been some sort of tug boat. The submarine USS Guitarro attacked the small convoy on 27 August 1944 sinking Nanshin Maru No. 25. Damage was also inflicted on the other vessels. It is assumed that the submarine attacked the Japanese vessels with her guns as torpedoes were too expensive to be wasted for minor enemy supply ships. Nanshin Maru No. 27 then continued to proceed to Busuanga and entered Illulucut Bay south of Calawit Island where she was probably anchored to attempt repairs. It is reported that she sank on 13 September 1944 at the mouth of the Bay by unknown cause. The vessel was most likely abandoned and drifted in the tidal current towards Malahon Island. ("Black Island") where she ran aground and finally sank.
She now sits upright on a sloping sandy bottom with her shallowest part at 21m. This wreck is located 3.5 hours away from Coron so it must be dived as a day trip with a 7am departure. You would normally make one dive here and dive the Okikawa Maru as a second dive on the return trip. This dive site is perfect for beginner wreck divers. You can see plenty of scorpion fish, lion fish, trumpet fish, groupers, and bat fish.
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