Subic Bay Wrecks – Part 2

S.S. Australian 1862. painted by Walters, Samuel, 1811-1882. oil on canvas ; 71.3 x 107.7 cm. National Library of Australia. This is one of three identical sister ships of SS Andes

READ MORE: Part 1 | Part 2

One of the really great points about diving Subic Bay is that everything is convenient. The visiting divers has a range of different wrecks to choose from to match their desires and comfort level, some of whom were mentioned in Part 1. There are some other factors that also makes Subic Bay a desirable dive vacation destination. The mountains around the bay helps protect the bay from bad storms and also offer other eco-toursim activities. Being a mainstream vacation destination means there is a range of accommodations available from simple hotels to luxury resorts. It also means that there are a variety of restaurant and nigh life. The area has a number of theme amusement parks and activities for the non-divers and your off gas times.

Spanish Armed Transport San Quintin ex S/S Andes

This is one of the best shallow dive sites at Subic Bay, and recently I learned that what we thought we knew about her was all wrong. A book written in the early 1990s identified the ship as the San Quintin a gunboat scuttled at the outbreak of the Spanish American War. It went on to describe the mission of the San Quintin as a gunboat that patrolled the river separating the Spanish base from the jungle and the rebels who hid there. The official Spanish report on the battle of Manila does in fact state that the San Quintin was scuttled to block a small entrance to Subic Bay near Grande Island. However, a few years ago I was updating some dive site descriptions and found that the length of the ship wreck was much too long for a gun boat. Additionally when looking at a map of the Spanish base, it was clear that the boat sunk near Grande Island would never been able to navigate the rivers. After much research I was able to put together the history of the wreck and confirm that the San Quintin was an Armed Transport that started as the S/S Andes. Built in Scotland by William Denny & Brothers, The Cunard Lines took possession of the S/S Andes on August 18, 1852. the S/S Andes / San Quintin had a long history.

Boilers of the San Quintin

Grande Island sits at the entrance of Subic Bay, to the west is a deep channel and the east is mostly a shallow reef. There is one narrow channel in the east reef that maintains a depth of 10 meters. The San Quintin was positioned in the channel, southeast of Grande Island and northeast of Chiquita Island, where the water was only 10 meters deep. Sunk with her were two merchant ships whose identities were not recorded. This took away this side of the island as a means to attack. Today the dive site is10 to 20 meters (33 to 66 feet) with the San Quintin covered in coral. She is along side of a reef to the west that slopes up from 20 meters to just five meters. This site often has the best visibility, but is sometimes impacted with algae in the waters. The dive site is the only one in Subic Bay that has currents. When the tide changes a mild current can be felt over the site. The surface current may be a bit stronger but not overly dangerous.

Landing Ship Tank LST

The Landing Ship Tank (LST) is also a very popular dive site in the bay. Located at the entrance of Ilanin Bay, the LST sits upright in 115 feet/35 meters of water with the main deck at 90 feet / 27 meters. The vessel is 328 feel long and has a beam of 50 feet. Inside you have the second deck and the third deck which is called the tank deck. The second deck has quarters and mess for 147 enlisted and 16 officers of the combat crew along the hull. The center portion of the deck is opened to the tank deck. The ships crew of 104 had their quarters in the stern of the second deck and their officers were in the deck house. Below the tank deck was the hold with fuel, engine room, fresh water and ballast tanks. Believed to have been used for target practice in 1948. the deck house and bridge is all but flatten. An outstanding deep dive site, It is also a favorite destination for wreck technical divers.

Subic Bay Dive sites

Leading Dive sites:

Here is a list of the major dive sites within the bay and a few that are just outside of the bay but still visited by the Subic Bay dive centers. Please note that this is not all of the dive sites. There are a few that are just dived by the locals and others that are not dived as often. There is also a number of reef dive sites some around Grande Island and others in different parts of the bay.

  • USS New York – See part one for information on this Armored Cruiser located in the Port of Olongapo.
  • LCU – This is a Mark VI Landing Craft Utility. Located in Triboa Bay Near the airport. 10 to 21 meters deep. Believed to have sunk in the 1950 during the construction of the airport.
  • USS Lanikai — Movie star, spy and war hero. Sadly there is not much left of this schooner who has a most interesting history. The book “CRUISE OF THE LANIKAI Incitement to War” tells of her top secret mission to create a reason to enter the war against Japan before Pearl Harbor, as well as the missions she did during the war. Before the war she was owned by MGM studios and was in the movie Hurricane. Located in 30 meters of water in Triboa Bay.
  • Japanese Patrol Boat – One of my personal favorite dive sites. She is a 105 foot long trawler style vessel converted to military use. Sits upright in 25 meters of water. A earthquake in 2015, flatten the pilot house and closed off some of the inside of the ship, but it still have areas you can do in. Great marine life on and in the wreck. In Trobia Bay.
  • El Capitan – also located within Ilanin Bay, information on this ship is in part one.
  • Barges — Located just off Grande Island. This is a series of floating docks with each one sitting deeper than the one before it. Sitting on a sandy bottom the first is in 6 meters of water. The last one in the group reaches 31 meters. Divers can select the depth they want to go to. Great marine life and a favorite site for night dives.
  • World One – Sunk as an artificial reef in front of the Arizona Resort. Ex Taiwanese fishing vessel confiscated for smuggling. Sits in 21 meters of water.
  • Formula 4O — A small wreck sunk as part of the Ocean Adventure’s artificial reef program. A shore dive just 250 meters from the dive shop and next to the resort’s house reef.
  • AD-5 Skyraider. – A recent find is a AD-5 Skyraider. These aircraft were used in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. This one is believed to have crashed in 1961.
  • F-4 Phantom – A tec dive site siting outside the entrance of Subic Bay in 45 meters of water
  • L2D Tabby – A recent find within the Bay at 45 meters. This is a Japanese version of a WWII era DC-3.

You could write a book about the diving and tourism at Subic Bay (okay, I did it was my first book), however, it is best to enjoy it.

READ MORE: Part 1 | Part 2