Labuan is popular among experienced scuba divers for its four exciting wreck diving sites located within Labuan Marine Park.
Australian Wreck (SS De Klerk)
Location: Southwest of Pulau Rusukan Besar, about 23km from Labuan.
The Australian Wreck provides an atmospheric dive thanks to the combination of rich coral growth, less-than-10-meter visibility, skeletal remains of the vessel, her tragic end and reputation of being haunted.
Originally a Dutch passenger and cargo steamer built in 1900, it was scuttled by the Dutch during WWII to prevent the Japanese from taking it over. However, the enterprising Japanese army managed to salvage it, renaming it ‘Imabari Maru’ and the ship returned to service as a cargo vessel.
Fleeing Borneo towards the Philippines in 1944, she struck a mine and sunk 23km southwest of Labuan. 339 passengers lost their lives, including many female prisoners (comfort women) as the Japanese took to the lifeboats, leaving everyone else behind.
Originally believed to have been downed by an Australian air force bomb, the name of the wreck, which lies 21 to 33 meters underwater, has stuck till today.
American Wreck (USS Salute)
Location: Southeast of Pulau Rusukan Kecil, about 1.5 km from the Australian Wreck.
The American Wreck has an interesting yet tragic history, having capsized during World War II after a mine ripped through the US Navy mine sweeper, breaking it in half on 8 June 1945.
Exploring the American Wreck fills scuba divers with a sense of sadness at the destruction caused, and the sombre atmosphere heightens when coming across a plaque listing the names of the 9 servicemen who perished.
To complete the trip back in time are sightings of canon artefacts, bullet clips, wire bottles and munitions still left intact at this shipwreck’s tangled mass. Her unexploded depth charges have been removed by the Malaysian navy.
This popular and challenging dive site lies under 30 meters of water. The wreck itself is broken in two pieces, one lying across the other.
Cement Wreck (MV Tung Hwuang)
Location: East of Pulau Kuraman, about 21 km from Labuan.
The Cement Wreck received its name because the ship in question sank in 1980 while transporting cement to Brunei for the construction of the Sultan’s new palace.
Of the four wrecks of Labuan, the Cement Wreck is among the shallowest with its super structure rising to 19m. Furthermore, the way it sits makes it by far the easiest to navigate which is great for novices undergoing wreck diving training.
Offering great underwater views with its top half covered by a coral garden and playing host to a wide variety of lively aquatic creatures, the Cement Wreck is also known to provide occasional whale shark sightings to lucky divers.
The upright manner in which it sits on the sea bed, combined with the garden of soft and hard corals, sponges and ferns, and the schools of barracudas and batfish hovering about the mast, makes it one of the most picturesque wrecks in the region.
Blue Water Wreck (Mabini Padre)
Location: Northwest of Pulau Kuraman, about 34 km from Labuan.
The Blue Water Wreck used to be a huge Philippines fishing trawler that caught fire and sank in 1981 with no loss of lives.
Named after the clear blue waters she rests upon, the wreck does not suffer much from inshore murk – clear benefits of being Labuan’s furthest wreck from the coast.
On a good day, 40-metre visibility is not unheard of. The intact vessel complete with masts lies on its side and is home to an abundance of marine life – guaranteeing an exciting experience for wreck divers.
Permitted activities in Labuan Marine Park include scuba diving, camping, snorkelling, sailing, canoeing and jungle-trekking.
Visitors must follow the marine park regulations at all times and are prohibited from fishing, littering, anchoring and carrying out other activities that may damage the corals and reefs.
Telephone: +6087 582 502 / +6087 582 503 (Marine Parks Department, Labuan)