All the members of the scuba diving community got really excited when we heard that the Timor Leste Navy were planning to scuttle a patrol boat as an artificial reef.
History of the boat
The NRDTL Kamanasa is a Chamasuri-class patrol boat which entered service with the Republic of Korea navy in 1979. In September 2011 one naval and two coast guard units were gifted to the Timor Leste Defence Force (FDTL).
P217 was rechristened Kamanasa, the other two vessels ‘Hera’ and ‘Dili’. Kamanasa is an area on the South coast of Timor Leste, which means ‘brackish water mangroves’.
After a period of use, the boat fell into disrepair and it was decided it should be sunk as a tourist attraction.
The mast has been removed and kept as a remembrance to the vessel.
Planning the scuttle
In consultation with Aquatica Dive Resort, a plan was formulated to prepare the boat to minimize the environmental impact, choosing an appropriate site for access and depth and modification to allow accessibility to the inside of the boat.
Due to holiday commitments Desmond Lee (the owner of Aquatica) was out of the country when the final preparations were being made so recommended Dive Timor Lorosae to assist with the scoping of the ocean floor for the final location of the shipwreck site.
On the 13th of July, Dive Timor Lorosae and 4 members of the Timorese Navy scuba dived the proposed site and set up markers so that the scuttled boat would rest at the correct angle and depth.
The scuttle itself
The scuttle itself took place on the morning of the 15th of July 2023.
The Timorese Navy first removed the mast from the boat and cut a large hole in the deck before using a tugboat to transport the boat to the site of its final resting place on the west of one of the best known scuba diving sites, K41.
We went diving there that morning and the whole place was packed with military and dignitaries for the ceremony. We must have looked a bit strange in the background as it was PADI Women’s Day, and we got all the boys diving with us to dress up in scuba with skirts!
You can see the soon to be shipwreck in the background of this photo.
Then the Navy placed anchors at both the bow and stern before cutting holes in the bow and stern to let the water in and sink the ship slowly. It settled exactly where it was planned, upright with the bow pointing to shore, the bottom at 18m and the bottom of the stern at 30m, with the top of the bridge at 8m depth. It can be accessed directly from the shore with an approximate 30m swim. The Navy did an amazing job!
Diving the shipwreck
We could not resist! After our surface interval we had to take a look, so initially snorkeled over the wreck to check on the visibility and amazingly in 1 hour the sand had settled and the visibility clear. So we donned our scuba gear and were the first recreational scuba divers to dive Timor Leste’s newest shipwreck, the NRDTL Kamanasa and it was awesome. A very unique experience.
We can’t wait to see how it develops and document the growth and marine life each time we dive it.
Plus now we have a great new dive site to teach PADI Wreck Adventure dive and PADI Wreck Specialty courses
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Photos and video thanks to Vicky Carmady