Freitag, 31. Mai 2013

King Cruiser wreck

Location: Andaman Sea

Water type: Salt water

Average current: light

Average logged depth: 10-20m

Maximum logged depth: 30m

This is the wreck of the car ferry of the same name that sank off the West Coast of Southern Thailand on 4 May 1997. The ferry was operating between Phuket and the Phi Phi Islands when she hit a submerged collection of rocky pinnacles at Anemone Reef, 10 miles off Phi Phi Island. The impact tore a large hole in the hull, and the vessel sank within two and a half hours. All 561 passengers – including both Thai locals and foreign tourists – were rescued. They were picked up by the two police patrol boats and four or five fishing boats which had raced to the rescue in response to an emergency call. One elderly woman sustained a broken back and several others suffered shock.

The vessel is now a popular recreational dive site and acts as an artificial reef to complement the Anenome Reef. The vessel sits upright on a sandy bottom in around 30m of water rising to ~10m at the top of the wreck. The wreck remains largely in one piece, although the upper deck has collapsed. The simplest and safest point of entry is through the vessel's stern, where divers can explore the once active car decks. Machinery still sits on the deck. Inside the car deck are a couple of vehicle tyres and an engine trolley. Rows of passenger seats and low coffee tables fill the inner recesses. The collapsed foredeck is at 16 metres, where there is a stack of plastic picnic tables and chairs often surrounded by a cloud of snapper. The upper deck is split from front to back. Within and around the wreck there is lots of coral growth and an abundance of fish. Soft corals can be found growing along the sides and top of the wreck. Schools of bigeye trevally are often spotted circling above the captain's cabin. Large schools of yellow snapper hang around the entrances to the car deck and along the remains of the upper deck, and lionfish can be seen dotted around the wreck. There are also occasional encounters with leopard sharks and bamboo sharks, barracuda and turtles.

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