The Wickham wrecks are back!
WWII Ship Wrecks
These wreck dives are located at Wickham Harbour approx 50 km South West of Uepi Island Resort, a boat trip of around 75 - 90 minutes. Note that the taking of souvenirs from any WWII site above or below water is illegal & there are severe penalties. These dives can potentially be dived as inexperienced, advanced or even very advanced dives, so divers will be expected to dive within their qualifications and experience.
Wickham Harbour (no actual harbour facilities, just the name) is actually the southern entrance to Marovo Lagoon from the Coral Sea. Exposed to a moderate amount to southern swells, the outer reaches of Wickham can be affected by rough seas, so there may be days when we do not offer this excursion.
Because these sites are custom sites they may be withdrawn at any time.
Japanese Freighter used in WWII, wrecked in 1942. It is 540 tons and is up to 50 metres long. Lying in approx 30 - 40m of water sitting upright in good condition with the deck starting at about 32m and the bottom of the holds in about 38m, with the stern in about 40m.
The wreck has two main cargo holds one of which holds a large amount of various calibre machine-gun ammunition, mortars, field artillery shells, unopened boxes, bicycle tires and various unknown articles. The other hold contains coal, 44 gallon drums, cables etc. The forward storage lockers
contain kerosene lanterns, mantles, floodlights, sake bottles, colognes, a shaving kit, beer bottles and various other items. The engine room can be seen from the rear cargo hold and above the gangway at the rear of the boat. The engines, gauges, dials and various other equipment is still intact and can be easily seen in this area. Crockery, glassware and other items have been found throughout the various cabins at the rear of the ship. The deck superstructure consists of winches, spare anchors, the main mast (complete with a large brass masthead lantern) and other scattered debris. Fish abound around the wreck including mangrove jack, cod, schooling arracuda and trevally. The wreck is covered in corals including gorgonian fans and black coral. This wreck is appealing to both experienced wreck divers and reef divers looking for something different.
There are areas which can be penetrated by the more experienced wreck diver such as the engine room and front storage locker, however an great overview of the ship can be obtained by encircling the wreck, swimming through the ammunition cargo holds and over the decks taking in the superstructure.
A Japanese freighter used in WW11. It is 775 tons and estimated up to 55 metres long. It was sunk 26th December 1942. It is upright and in good condition although the stern has been subject to an explosion and is moderately damaged. The wreck was sunk near a Japanese base at Wickham harbour in 1942. She lays upright in 38m of water with the bow slightly raised. The masthead is at about 15m and the top of the superstructure about 28m. The ship is believed to have been skip bombed: this is evident through holes in the starboard side, just above the water line near the bow. The ship has two cargo holds, one large hold towards the front of the ship and one smaller one amidships. The forward hold contains two large artillery pieces each approximately 5m long. They lay on their sides and the wheels, barrels and sighting apparatus are all visible. 44 gallon drums can also be found in the hold. This cargo was possibly bound for the head base at Guadalcanal but the position of the vessel suggests that it may have been nosed into the reef to unload stores for the nearby land-base holding approximately 300 troops. Alternatively once hit it may have been deliberately driven onto the reef in close proximity to the military base.
A main feature of this wreck is the easily accessible engine room, various deck equipment including anchors & winches. Marine life is reasonably abundant with a resident and very curious school
Located about 1 km from the other two wrecks this wreck sits upright in 40m. There is a gun mounted on the foredeck but the holds are barren having been emptied by salvagers. The stern of the vessel has been blown by explosives. But this wreck often has very good visibility. Very large fish such as giant trevally & huge cod live in the open superstructure & huge schools of fish swarm over it. This makes it a very popular dive for photographers. Various opinions as to the origin & nationality of this vessel have been offered ranging from Japanese freighter to USA troop carrier.
Another Unidentified wreck
The fourth wreck, the latest addition, is the largest and shallowest (15m to 27m) with the deck at 15m, making it the obvious last dive. It is upright and in good condition. It also has very prolific fish life, a wheeled artillery piece on the bow and four cargo holds. Great for photos.
The hunt for other wrecks continues. Uepi Dive Team is still narrowing the search for several WWII aircraft wrecks. What is believed to be an USA P39 Air Cobra fighter has been searched for over some years. Scattered artifacts such as the remains of a jettisoned bomb have been found. Further afield what may be an USA B24 bomber is being hunted. These aircraft are hidden in difficult terrain with mostly very poor visibility. When these planes are found it may be possible to shift them to a more accessible site. One such find, a Japanese Zero fighter, buried in silt will be moved to a cleaner area soon.