Tuesday, March 19

Shipwreck site as diving spot


Abang Johari (second right) gestures when watching live footage of divers in the wreckage site. Seen (from right) are Rashid and Ik Pahon. – Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

Ministry to promote location which houses WWII ships

KUCHING: Sarawak’s Tourism Ministry will carry out initiatives to promote the World War II shipwreck site located some 28 km from the shores of Santubong as a diving spot.

The site, which houses the remnants of Japanese World War II ships Katori Maru, Hiyoshi/Hie Maru and IJN Sagiri, has become quite popular with divers and has since been regarded as the best wreck diving site in the country with a true history of Borneo during the World War II.

“This is a new diving site that has the wreckage of historical ships Katori Maru, Hiyoshi/Hie Maru and IJN Sagiri. Divers who come here will not only be able to learn about history, but it will also be an adventure and good experience for middle-level divers.

“I was told by the divers that this is one of the best diving sites in Malaysia. It is not that deep and will enable the middle-level divers to dive about 20 metres into the sea to see the beauty down there,” Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg told reporters after launching the Shipwreck Adventure Dive Package Kuching at the shipwreck site near here yesterday.

This four-day-three-night package includes accommodation at Santubong Homestay, where one can experience living in a Malay cultural setting, two-day dive at the wreckage site and another night stay at a local bed and breakfast inn in the city.

The price is RM1,200 per pax with minimum of two pax. This package can be booked through Premier Marine and Scuba Centre.

Abang Johari said his ministry would be working together with the Museum Department, Malaysian Marine Department and Sarawak Rivers Board to develop the site as a landmark for divers, adding that the site would be developed similar to the Pearl Harbour wreckage site in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“Similar approach will be adopted here where we will let visitors to be ferried to this area (wreckage site) and they can visit the site and for professional divers, they can dive to see the wreckage for themselves.

“We are working with the Japanese Embassy to get the historical data of this particular site as well as to get clearance from their side and to promote this site to Japanese tourists.”

Abang Johari also said that Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) in collaboration with Premier Marine & Scuba Centre would also try to promote the site during an international diving conference to be held in Kuala Lumpur from June 4 to 6.

As a measure to prevent looting of the wreckage, he said his ministry, in cooperation with the state Museum Department, would also try to gazette the site as a marine heritage site.

“We have to work with the Japanese to see whether they have the technology to mark the historical wreckage site that can withstand big waves.”

Among those present at the launching were state Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik, STB chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan and state Museum Department director Ipoi Datan.