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Atago Maru Wreck

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The Atago Maru was originally built as a merchant ship in 1924, at Glasgow by Lithgows & Sons, and is one of the first diesel-engined Japanese registered ships. As a general cargo freighter for the Japanese, it operated between Kobe / Yokohama and the west coast of the USA and Canada after being put into service, until December 1942, it underwent emergency conversion to an oil tanker for wartime duty. By February 1943 the conversion was done, and in the following years it made runs carrying oil between South East Asian countries and Japan.

On 28 November 1944, while at anchor approximately a mile off of the Lutong refinery, Atago Maru was bombed and sunk by a USAAF 13th Air Force B-24 “Liberator” heavy bomber.

The wreck of Atago Maru lies in 46 feet of water, and originally much of the superstructure still visible above the surface. Over time, storms, waves and rust demolished the superstructure while the whole ship slowly settled into the seabed, leaving only its two masts visible above water. Even so, in 1981, the foremast fell, and subsequently the aft mast fell too, a few years later.

The wreck rests at the bottom of the sea listed to one side, and today is covered in corals and made home by various sea life, and also silt from the nearby Baram River. The bow and the superstructure remnants are still above the silt level.

The wreck is a popular dive site, about 20 minutes of boat ride from Miri. Diving visibility conditions vary from 20m to 40m, depending on weather and other factors. To tour the site there are dive operators in Miri that will make the arrangements.

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