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Photo: River boat being sunk Photo: Trawler being sunk

Smuggler Ships Ready for Diving

Like a scene from "Lethal Weapon IV" the U.S. Coast Guard accosted, boarded, and arrested two Chinese ships between Guam and Rota. They were smuggling illegal Chinese Nationals attempting to enter the United States via Guam. Confiscated vessels are usually either sold or scuttled, depending upon their condition. The U.S. Marshall's office took possession of the ships in Apra Harbor, Guam and readied them for scuttling.

Mark Michael, of Dive Rota, approached Mayor Benjamin T. Manglona, proposing to sink the ships on Rota to form new dive site and to protect the damaged reef at Coral Gardens. The Mayor organized a team from his office to spearhead the project and called upon John Gourley, a private environmental consultant from Saipan, for his assistance in ensuring that the project would be environmentally friendly.

The U.S. Marshall's office supervised the initial cleaning of the ships, with final cleaning by volunteer effort of the Mayor's office, Dive Rota, and Mobil Oil. CNMI Governor Tenorio requested federal assistance and the permits, were issued for the project.

Towing arrangements were made with the US Coast Guard and IBC - International Bridge Corporation a construction company in Guam. Protruding objects and detachable items were removed to make the vessels safe for divers. The ships were positioned off Sagua in Sasanhaya Bay, near the resting place of the Shoun Maru, a Japanese freighter sunk there in 1945 during WWII.

Local volunteer divers marked the new locations with buoys and prepared the site by salvaging anchors and chain from various parts of Sasanhaya Bay, towing them to the new sites and getting them ready for attachment to the ships once they were maneuvered into the proper positions.

Officials then had U.S. Navy E.O.D. and SEAL teams sink them. Once the ships were sunk and the area declared safe Mobil Oil with the help of a couple of local boats and crews used this event to practice their oil pollution capabilities as they skimmed the areas above and around the sunken vessels to capture any oil or fuel that may have escaped during the sinking.

The following day divers secured both vessels with bow and stern anchors to help prevent shifting of the ships from their sunken positions in the event of heavy seas and typhoons.

River boat at the pier in Guam

River Boat - photo by Dave Callaway, U.S.C.G. Bm2 - Guam

The Riverboat - Tse Yuen Yui

Originally from the Chinese port of Hongzhou, the riverboat is approximately 124 feet long and has a unique system of seven engines each with a separate gear box, shaft and propeller. There are five cargo holds and double bottom tanks. Made of welded steel, the riverboat has a raised wheelhouse and superstructure. The wheelhouse has a large wooden helm, a magnetic compass, and a power supply unit. The steering system includes chain and sprocket, steering spindle and quadrant and rudder. It was built about 1990.

Photo: Trawler at the along side the dock in Guam

Photo by John Gourley of Micronesia Environmental Services - Saipan

The Stern Trawler / "Snake Eyes Express"

Built as a fishing boat in 1985, the name of the ship was obliterated when its purpose became smuggling. Its displacement is 240 tons and it is 134 feet long. It was sunk in 95 feet of water about 900 feet from the shoreline. To see what it looks like now, check out our customer and friend "Hagihira-san's photo" taken very shortly after the sinking.

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Goldbar

Dive Rota, P.O. Box 941, Rota MP 96951
E-mail: mark@diverota.com

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