28 July 2007

MV Tung Hwang - The Cement Wreck

Cement Wreck is one of the 4 main wrecks (two WWII era and two post-war vessels) discovered by Maurice Davidson and some local divers back in the 1980s. He wrote a book about the underwater beauty and diving in Bruneian waters, Laut Brunei-The Brunei Sea.

A.k.a MV Tung Hwang, it is a small freighter 92 metres in length which hit the Samarang Banks while freighting cement to Brunei for the construction of the late Sultan's new palace. It sank on 25 September, 1980 without the loss of life and sits perfectly up-right on a hard sandy bottom in 32 metres. The masts are just eight metres below the surface at low tide and the roof of the wheelhouse is at 14 metres, with the main deck at 22 metres. Harsh weather conditions is slowly taking a toll on this wreck. However, it is still highly regarded by many underwater photographers as one of the most photogenic wreck in Asia and is well-known u/w photographer Michael Aw's favourite shipwreck.

Depending on the speed of your boat, it takes around 30-45 mins to get to this wreck off Muara Port. When visibility is great, one can see the top of this mast from the water surface. It feels like you're entering into a different realm, into something majestic that shouts a character of its own , into the preying ground for one and a sanctuary for another. Upon descending to the mast, you would normally be greeted by large schools of barracudas that patrol the wreck faithfully, and one or two playful batfish that are the friendliest towards divers. Sometimes they come so close that it seemed like there are the ones inspecting us.

The Cement Wreck has other wrecks in Brunei green with envy. Its beauty demands a wide-eyed "wow" from every diver and underwater photographer that has set their fins on it. The top half of it is covered by a garden of soft and hard corals, featherstars, sponges and ferns.

Caryn and I did our first deep dive here. I did not document much on that dive but i do remember most of my dive time was spent scavenging for treasures. Muhuuhuu. Tell me you wouldnt! Esp if you're a newbie. Infact, i did find a coin entirely covered in moss. I was so bloody excited! Only to scrape off the moss onboard and find that it's a 1990something 10cent coin. confused

Wreck penetration at the hull and engine room is possible for experienced divers. That is Caryn making the u-ey out when she saw a titan triggerfish waiting for her on the other side. They bite! This wreck is now home to a great variety of marine life. There's the lionfish, stonefish, scorpionfish, rabbitfish, giant barracuda, triggerfish, batfish, pufferfish, snappers, sweetlips, and many more. Below are some of the many permanent residents there.


.Leaf fish. Octopus.
Just last week, Andrew, Caryn and the rest spotted a green frogfish!

And sometimes...as rare as it gets, if you're lucky enough, a giant or two might drop in to visit.
Whaleshark spotted by Melski@Amilson and Reuben at Cement Wreck sometime in April last year.

Whalesharks are the largest living fish species whose ancestry goes back to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods 245-65 million years ago. While the word 'shark' will instantly strike fear in the hearts of many, the whaleshark and many other species are infact harmless. They are the deep blue's Gentle Giants. It is one of my dreams to swim alongside these giants, although at times, i wonder how i'd react if i saw one at close range.

.Melski never looked smaller.

.Photos courtesy of Scuba Tech International, Brunei.


Anonymous said...

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