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What To Expect On A Liberty Ship Wreck Liveaboard
Liveaboards to the Liberty Ship Wreck are highly popular for any dive cruise departing from Bali. The wreck of the USAT Liberty is one of the most famous dive sites in in this region and many Indonesian liveaboards visit this fantastic dive site. She lies just off the coast of Tulamben on a sandy slope, in an area with almost no current. The lack of current means that visibility remains consistently clear, in excess of 65 feet (20 m). Upon the slope, she lies at a depth between 25 and 100 feet (8 to 30 m), with her stern towards the shallows, and her bow pointing down the slope. Divers on a liveaboard to the Liberty Ship wreck can enjoy diving the whole length of the ship.
Scuba diving at Liberty Ship Wreck truly is an amazing experience and a dive safari that has the Liberty Ship Wreck on the itinerary is a great choice. The wreck is encrusted with hard and soft corals and has huge schools of fish swimming around it, sometimes it's hard to imagine you're swimming around a wreck!
The 411 foot (125 m) Liberty was built by the US Shipping Board and launched during World War I on the 19th of June 1918. During this war she served the US Navy, usually shipping horses to France. In 1940, the Liberty was recommissioned by the US Army for defensive services, transporting cargo around the Pacific.
On the 11th of January 1942, USAT Liberty was transporting a shipment of rubber and railway parts, en route to the Philippines from Australia, when she was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine, I-166. Luckily no one was seriously hurt from the blast, but the torpedo rendered the ship inoperable.
Two allied destroyers, the US Paul Jones and the Dutch Van Ghent, attempted to tow the damaged ship to Celukan Bawang harbour on the north coast of Bali. Unfortunately, the damage was too great and the USAT Liberty was taking on too much water to survive the trip. It was decided that she be intentionally beached on the eastern shores of Bali at Tulamben, in order to salvage her cargo and fittings.
However, the story does not end here. In 1963, the steep-sided Mt. Agung (a stratovolcano) violently erupted, flinging volcanic bombs and debris upwards of 8 km into the air. The devastating blast was so powerful that tremors pushed the beached Liberty back into the ocean and to her final resting place.
what you can see
The Liberty Ship Wreck offers something for everyone, and for this reason it is often described as Bali's best site and one of the reasons why many Indonesian liveaboards visit here. Several hundred species of fish and coral can be seen, and with so much of the wreck in shallow water, and conditions always perfect for scuba diving, the site is ideal even for less experienced divers.
The entire ship is now encrusted with coral, sunset-reds and lush greens pop out through the crystal water. Large vase sponges, very often occupied by invertebrates, are dotted all over and deep purple gorgonian fans sway gently along the ship's sides.
The coral has attracted an incredible assortment of fish, the species diversity is perhaps higher in this location than any other single site. Inquisitive schools of anthias often follow divers along the wreck, while electric-blue fusilier fish move in and out of the damaged wreckage. Well-camouflaged pygmy seahorses and intensely coloured nudibranchs offer macro photographers plenty of opportunity to sharpen their skills.
Anywhere there are small fish, large fish are often not too far behind. Many pelagic species are drawn to the rich life of the wreck; barracuda, blacktip sharks and giant trevallies (a semi-pelagic species) are frequently spotted. Garden eels can also be found, poking their heads through the sandy patches surrounding the wreck.
Bali can be reached by flying to its international airport, Ngurah Rai, located in the capital city of Denpasar on the southern coast. The number of direct flights to the picturesque island are increasing on account of its ever growing popularity with tourists.
Travelling from Europe, however, there are no direct flights. Typically, connecting flights are caught at Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok, but depending from where you begin your journey, you may connect through Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong.
Most Indonesian liveaboards visiting the Liberty Wreck tend to leave from Benoa Harbour in Denpasar, just a stone's throw from the airport.