The Sea Tiger is a former Chinese trading vessel originally named Yun Fong Seong No. 303. It was confiscated in the early 1990's for carrying 90+ illegal immigrants into the state of Hawaii. Purchased by Voyager Submarines, then cleaned up and sank in 1999 as part of a dive enrichment effort, the Sea Tiger is 150-feet of incredible sights. The ship’s deck sits at roughly 90 feet. The bottom rests on the sand at approximately 110 feet making bottom time between 20-to-25-minutes. Divers can penetrate the Sea Tiger through the cargo holds and bridge. Despite some minor decay inside the ship, the wreck is remarkably intact making it a unique dive for wreck enthusiasts.
The YO-257, a 175-foot long navy oiler, sits on the sand in 100-feet of water off the south shore of Oahu. You’ll have a breathtaking view of Diamond Head on your boat ride to this wreck. It was purposely sunk in 1989 to form an artificial reef by Atlantis Submarines and has since been teaming with marine life. Large turtles like to lay on the main deck at 75 feet and schools of spotted eagle rays cruise past the ship on both sides. Swim throughs are abundant here. Laying 70 feet from the YO-257 is the San Pedro, a 125-foot long decommissioned hospital ship. She lays shallower in 60-feet of water. The San Pedro like it’s neighboring wreck also sunk by Atlantis Submarines only a few years later in 1996.
The LCU (Landing Craft Utility)
This Landing Crafty Utility wreck (as in military troop beach landings) lies upside down in 85’ of water on a sandy bottom with a huge field of artificial reef Z-blocks surrounding it. After dipping under the side of the wreck and checking our the shaded interior for resting white tips, you can also check the "bottom" of the boat where you will often find fish swimming upside down. The diving tour around the outside of the wreck on the artificial reef will complete your bottom time. Lots of marine life to be found amongst the large concrete blocks. There is a short penetration possible in the wheel house, but it is very tight. If you are wreck specialty certified, have gloves, reel, 2 lights and certified buddy, you can go for it, but simply peering into the entrance and shining your light around should be sufficient.
Whitetip reef sharks often rest underneath the bow section. Hairy hermit crabs have been seen here too. South of the bow there are several pipes and in the larger of them is a good spot to observe the whip-coral goby on its host. The wreck also has some of the now rare black corals that is used to make jewelry.
The Navy Tug Boat, Nashua, sits alone on the sand in 65-feet of water off the coast of Oahu. It was purposely sunk in 2012 to form an artificial reef, and has since become an active training site for the US Navy. Locked bins storing Naval supplies can be seen outside the ship along the sea floor.
It’s also home to numerous species of marine life, including enormous puffer fish and reef sharks who can be spotted through port holes and holes in the deck. Small coral blooms and polyps speckle the hull and deck, while various soft corals fan beneath the ship’s rudder.
At 109 feet long, the ship’s holds provide ample swim-throughs and penetration.
While many wrecks are intentionally sunk off of the O’ahu coast to serve as artificial reefs, this wreck was the real deal.
Despite being a true plane wreck in its original location of doom, the Corsair Plane didn’t have a very dramatic end, at least as far as plane crashes go. A routine mission in 1948 ended abruptly when the WWII aircraft started to sputter. As the engine began to fail, the seasoned pilot managed to make a smooth water landing, wheels up, flaps slightly extended. The pilot was rescued bobbing nearby in his lifejacket, the plane wasn’t even damaged.
But even though the aircraft was intact, it wasn’t buoyant. Despite the soft landing, it still ended up at the bottom of the ocean. After decades underwater, the plane is no longer such a pretty corpse, but of course that’s a matter of opinion. Divers, photographers, and a unique garden eel population beg to differ.
The reef surrounding the Baby Barge is great. However, because the Baby Barge has been steadily deteriorating since we started diving it in 2001, then penetrations we used to do are no longer possible. Yet the cavern on the deep side of the wreck is still there and it’s not unusual to find one or two white tip reef sharks sleeping in it. Turtles are usually everywhere and seeing five or more is not uncommon.
A side trip from this wreck is the “shark” cave. About 100’ to the east and down a 10’ ledge, this 15’ overhang does often shelter white tips, though it is more common to find green sea turtles there. The kick over and back is easy and shows off some of the area’s really nice reef, so when the conditions are right the divemaster often chooses to take a trip there.
The wreck lies at about 65’, but if you want to check out the cavern, the maximum depth will be 85’. It’s a great dive site for finding frog fish, Hawaiian lionfish, eels, and several species of nudibranchs.
Similar to the Baby Barge, but bigger and offering a nice swim-through for the length of the entire wreck, the New Barge is home to some monstrous turtles. These turtles never stop growing and can live up to 100 years. The turtles that make this wreck home must be close to that age.
Off to the north, about 50’ away on top of a gentle slope up to about 70’ is a huge concentrated pile of Z-blocks. This large pile of blocks holds huge schools of fish which makes it a favorite spot of local fisherman and the occasional talented spear fishing free diver. This is a fun spot to tour after you’ve checked out the wreck as it is a little shallower and increases the amount of time you can spend on-site.
The maximum depth is about 100’ but can be shallower if you stay off the bottom. The Z-blocks can be toured about 60’. This wreck can be connected in a drift dive with the Baby Barge Wreck if the conditions are right.
Once a fantastic wreck, the Mahi’s bridge collapsed during a hurricane a couple years ago. However, it is still a dive worth taking, especially because of all the fish and nudibrachs that are always present. No where else will you see so many puffer fish in one place. Together with the Sea Tiger, it is the best site to spot schooling eagle rays. The former minesweeper/cable layer was sunk in 1986 to become an artificial reef and has since become one of the most popular wrecks in Hawaii. Because of the collapsed bridge, divers are advised to remain on the outside of the wreck.
Resting in 95’ of water, that is often the maximum dive depth as whitetip reef sharks and octopus often hide between the bottom and the wreck. If you want a longer bottom time, the deck is between 60-80’ and there is plenty of life to keep you occupied.