Military & Wreck
Yep, there’s a two-seater warplane with bullet holes in it that crashed into the lagoon that is now part of the coral landscape. This is a surface interval activity, it’s not quite enough to make this one of your dives, but something that should make an appearance in your Yap vacation photo gallery. Here’s the local tip on punching this ticket while you’re here…
You know you’re going manta diving at the main cleaning station during your stay, so after one of your arm’s distance manta encounter hours at Stammtisch, ask your boat captain to park across the lagoon so you can off-gas and check out some war history.
The plane is encrusted with life and laying in white sand under 3 meters of water, it’s a safe way to burn a few hundred psi after an hour watching mantas fly over you at safety stop depth. The whole thing is here, for the most part, body, both wings, tail section, and landing gear… it’s just been rearranged a little. At first, this was said to be a Japanese Zero, however, I overheard that this plane is a two-seater from one of our guests and he claimed it’s a Betty.
There’s a Zero or two that you can see on a land tour and another one underwater somewhere, but this isn’t it. If I am shown another wreck, I’ll be sure and share my experience here.
The coral formations growing around the body parts are about as fragile as they come, I knocked off new growth with slight bumps from my strobes, extra care should be taken when moving around this site. The entire wreck site is spread out in a small area in shallow water, the tail section is in the deepest water, about 10 meters in depth. Our group spent about 20 minutes here poking around with our cameras and dive buddies.
This is a genuine war relic complete with medium caliber bullet holes in the wings that are visible when you get up close to the body parts.
If you know your history and a little about warplanes, this is a very interesting site. Our guest Raj operator of Swahili Divers on Pemba island in Zanzibar had plenty of facts to offer after this. Inside the cockpit are the instruments and control that can still be moved and more parts to see just under the white sand.
A few meters away from the body you can find the landing gear with several types of coral formations growing around and over it. The body is laying the cockpit up, however, the tail section was snapped off and came to rest pointing at the bottom of the lagoon. The sand is very light, one misplaced kick, and your photo op is blown. Diving around these parts needs to be done slowly. The crash site is just inside the breakers from Vertigo and the clear blue water on the outer reef.
After our hour surface interval, we moved the boat outside the channel and rolled into 100 feet of visibility to dive with reef sharks and passing eagle rays. Mantas and a plane wreck, then clear blue water and big sea life is not a bad way to spend a dive morning. This is one option available to you here during your stay. If any master divers want to comment on the surface interval dive time on 32% Nitrox and throw some dive math at this, it would be welcome.Check out some more Wreckage on the island in the images below: