USAT Liberty Shipwreck: A Diver’s Guide

The USAT Liberty Wreck in Tulamben, Bali, is an iconic dive site known for its historical significance, vibrant marine life, and accessibility for divers of all levels. This guide provides detailed information about the wreck, including its history, marine life, and tips for divers planning to explore this underwater marvel.

Historical Background

The USAT Liberty was a United States Army Transport ship that was unfortunately sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1942 during the Second World War. After the attack, it was towed to Tulamben, Bali, for salvage operations. However, the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 caused the vessel to slip into the ocean, where it now rests on a sand slope.

Location and Dive Conditions

  • Depth and Accessibility: The wreck lies on a sand slope ranging from about 5 meters (16 feet) to 30 meters (98 feet) deep, making it accessible to divers of all levels. The top of the wreck is just 5 meters below the surface, while the deepest part is approximately 30 meters deep.
  • Distance from Shore: The wreck is located very close to the shore, about 30 meters (100 feet) off the beach of Tulamben, allowing divers easy shore access to the dive site.
  • Diving Experience Required: The USAT Liberty Wreck caters to divers of all levels, from beginners to advanced. Beginners can explore the upper sections of the wreck, while more experienced divers have the opportunity to dive deeper into the structure.
  • Diving License Requirement: A basic Open Water Diver certification is sufficient to dive the upper parts of the wreck. However, an Advanced Open Water Diver certification is recommended to explore the deeper sections.

Marine Life

The USAT Liberty wreck is a thriving artificial reef teeming with life. Divers can expect to see schools of bumphead parrotfish, barracuda, trevally, and an array of macro life such as colourful nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, and camouflaged scorpionfish. The site is particularly famous for its vibrant coral growth and the diverse species it supports.

Diving Tips

  • Buoyancy Control: Due to the wreck’s proximity to the shore and its location in shallow water, good buoyancy control is essential to avoid damaging the coral or disturbing the silty bottom.
  • Night Diving: The Liberty wreck offers an exceptional night diving experience, revealing nocturnal marine life and a different perspective of the wreck.
  • Choosing a Dive Operator: With hundreds of dive operators in Bali, selecting a reputable dive centre that prioritizes safety and environmental conservation is crucial.

Best Time to Dive

Diving conditions are generally favourable year-round, but the best visibility and marine life activity are during the dry season from April to October. The wet season, from January to March, might reduce visibility but can also offer unique diving experiences due to fewer tourists and different marine life behaviours.

Exploring the USAT Liberty wreck in Tulamben is a must-do for any diver visiting Bali. Its easy access, rich history, and abundant marine life make it a dive site that appeals to both novices and experienced divers alike. Always remember to dive responsibly and respect the underwater environment to preserve its beauty for future generations.

USAT Liberty FAQs

How deep is the Tulamben shipwreck?

The USAT Liberty wreck in Tulamben, Bali, is located at a depth ranging from 5 to 30 meters (about 16 to 100 feet). Initially stranded on the east coast of Bali, the ship was moved 25 meters off the beach and submerged at this depth range due to the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963. Despite its status as a wreck, it retains a captivating allure for divers.

How did the USAT Liberty sink?

The USAT Liberty was a United States cargo ship that was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during World War II, specifically between Bali and Lombok. After being beached on the coast of Bali for an extended period, the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 caused the ship to slide from the shore and sink just off the coast, creating the popular dive site known today.

What does USAT stand for?

USAT stands for United States Army Transport, a designation used for troop transports operated by the United States Army. This prefix is placed before the ship’s name to denote its service and purpose within military operations.