Subic Bay Wreck Dive Sites

WreckDive01.jpg The USS New York is the star attraction in Subic’s underwater world. The USS New York was a battle cruiser launched in the USA in 1891. She had a long and illustrious career – including time as a fleet flagship in the North Atlantic – and was once the pride of the US fleet in Asia. When World War II broke out, she was virtually retired. When the Japanese swept the US Marines out of the Philippine territory, the Americans had no choice but to scuttle her as they departed Subic in early 1942.

The USS New York now lies on her port side in 27m of water between Alava Pier and the northern end of Cubi Point runway. A green buoy marks the spot. The 120m-long hull presents excellent opportunities for swim-through.

A standard dive starts at the stern with a slow swim around the propellers and up to the aft gun emplacements then to the vast mess room, down to the bow section for another brief spell inside. There’s abundant marine life in and around the wreck, combined with the clearly defined structure of the vessel, makes it an unforgettable dive.

The El Capitan is another excellent wreck dive. It is a 3,000-ton freighter, about 130m long, that crashed down the mouth of Ilanin Bay, a small and pretty inlet on the east coast of Subic Bay. Visibility is excellent during dry season. The top of the wreck is just 5m below the surface which makes it an easy dive.

The wreck is not in great shape though. The superstructure has disappeared and some 2-cm of ash and sand from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption covered the hull. But this is more than compensated for by the incredible abundance of marine life and an easy swim-through amid shafts of light that beam down through the holes on the sides. Snorkeling is also enjoyed on this site.

The San Quentin is the oldest known wreck in Subic, a wooden gunboat scuttled by the Spanish in 1898 in a futile attempt to block the channel between Grande and Chiquita islands against the invading Americans. It is a popular dive spot not because of its visual impact since there is little left of the hull but because of its historical interest.

It is the closest wreck to the open sea, making it more visible than the wrecks in the inner harbour. Schools of fish near the open sea are also bigger.

An LST is situated between Grande Island and the southern tip of the runway. This landing craft lies 32m deep, sitting upright with its doors open. The average dive is 28-35m. The wreck is visible within 15-30m, slightly deeper than on the other wrecks.

The Oryoku Maru is located 400m off Alava pier. The site is 20m (60ft) deep and visible within 5-15m (15-45ft) depending on the time of the year. The Oryoku Maru was an outboard passenger ship carrying families and 1,600 American prisoners of war when the ship was attacked by an American aircraft. The site has varied marine life due to the shallow depth.

It was flattened by explosives for navigational reasons. This tangled artificial reef is home to all species of shallow water marine life, clown fish, angelfish, spotted sweet lips, lobsters and regular schools of barracuda and jack swimming overhead.

The Seian Maru can be found between the Alava pier and the northern end of the runway. It is a Japanese cargo vessel approximately 30,000 tons sunk by the American Navy in 1945. The Seian Maru lies on its portside at 27m (85ft) deep. As you swim through its cavernous hods, you will encounter species like jack, spotted sweet lip and coral trout. The average dive is at 18m (52ft) up to 24m (75ft) with visibility from 5-15m depending on the tide.

A Patrol Boat can be discovered in Triboa Bay at a depth of 20-25m (60-75ft). Sitting upright, the wreck is a great dive with its vast array of corals and tropical fish. It is visible from 7-13m (20-40ft). There exists a cable from the bow of the ship across the coral reef that allows a diver to finish the dive in 3m (10ft).

An LCU Landing Vessel is also situated in Triboa Bay but closer to the end of the runway and lies on the edge of a reef with its starboard side lower. Depth is 5-20m (25-60ft) with visibility from 10-16m (30-50ft). This is a great dive for an underwater photographer.

The Subic Bay Freeport still maintains its recompression chamber from the U.S. Navy days (24 hours service). The Subic Bay Health and Welfare Dispensary is open 24 hours daily, located at Bldg. 280 on Dewey Avenue (Tel Nos. (63-47) 252-4169/4880/4161).

(Information credit: Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority)

See: Subic Dive Site

also see: Dive Philippines

How to Get Around in Barretto and Olongapo City

Tricycles (a kind of 3-wheeled taxi) and public utility jeepneys (a kind of 10-seater bus) provide public transportation within Olongapo. Jeepeneys are colour-coded, based on the routes they ply. There are three that are useful: blue, yellow and red. When you want to get off the jeep, say “para” or knock on the roof.

casa-barretto-25.jpg The blue jeepney (Subic to Olongapo City) goes to and from Olongapo City to Barretto. Some blue jeepneys go as far as Castillejos, another village after Subic. The terminal of the blue jeepney that takes you to Barretto is conveniently located on a side street (behind ChowKing), next to the Victory Liner bus station.

casa-barretto-26.jpg The yellow jeepney (Sta Rita to Main Gate of SBMA) can take you to two of the gates of the Subic Freeport Naval Base from Olongapo City. (By the way, you cannot enter the Base in slippers or very casual attire).

casa-barretto-27.jpg The red jeepney (Gordon Heights to Main Gate of SBMA) goes to another public market called Pag-Asa from Olongapo City.

casa-barretto-28.jpg The Victory Liner air-conditioned bus travels to and from Manila and Olongapo City. It makes a stop at a rest area called “Double Happiness” and another very short stop before the highway (to log-in at the dispatcher’s office).

A French Perspective

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Karl Dubost of W3C went to the Casa last March and wrote an interesting account of his stay on his website. He took fantastic pictures of the Barretto scene: the market, the people, and the public beaches at Baloy and Driftwood. Here you will have some idea of Barretto, the village.

His entries on Barretto are in French. Karl Dubost at Barretto:

The Trip from Manila to Barretto
Baloy Beach

The Market at Olongapo
On the Streets of Olongapo City

Cost of Living
Poetic Justice

Picturing the Imaginary
Spontaneity and Photography

Barrio Barretto Map

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These are the main streets in Barrio Barretto. The main avenue which leads to and from Olongapo City and on to northern Zambales is called the National Highway. This avenue is where the restaurants, small hotels and businesses are mainly located. Casa MaGeo is a one-minute walk from the National Highway.

The map is from the fantastic book Subic Bay: Travel and Diving Guide by Charles W Davis (Encyclea Publications, ©2007 by Asiatype Inc). For a copy of this book, email: contact@encyclea.com

Looking forward to having you at Casa MaGeo

Casa Barretto

Property Type: detached house
Floor Area: 400 m²
Accommodation Type: domestic service staff

Theme: luxury, family

Kitchen: 5 ring stove, freezer, fridge, grill, oven, microwave oven, bread toasters, laundry washing machine
Living Room: sofas, living area seating 8 people
Dining: indoor and outdoor dining facilities
Bathrooms: 3 showers, 1 bathtub, 4WC
Sleeping accommodation: sleeps a maximum of 8 people
Bedrooms: 4 bedrooms: 2 double rooms and 2 twin rooms (flexible arrangement); all rooms with private bathrooms
Outside: swimming pool, barbecue, garden, parking
Local Activities: beach sports, scuba diving, wreck diving, golf, theme parks, mountain trekking, casino, tennis, surfing, horseback-riding, parasailing, etc

Contact: 7casamageo@gmail.com or casa.barretto@gmail.com

Vacation Villa Ltd

Accommodation Details and Rates

Photographs by Some Guests

Sunset at Capones islands (photo by KAS)
Sunset at Capones islands (photo by KAS)
President Magsaysay's house at Castillejos (photo by JB)
President Magsaysay\’s house at Castillejos (photo by JB)
Casa Barretto (photo by MH)
Casa Barretto (photo by MH)
Cheese, sausages, premium meats at Bretto's (photo by DH)
Cheese, sausages, premium meats at Bretto’s less than a minute walking distance from Casa MaGeo (photo by DH)
Zambales mangos (photo by DH)
Zambales mangos (photo by DH)
Drying palay rice on the roads of Zambales (photo by DH)
Drying palay rice on the roads of Zambales (photo by DH)
Beach at Sto Niño (photo by DH)
Beach at Sto Niño (photo by DH)
Driftwood beach, Barretto (photo by KD)
Driftwood beach, Barretto (photo by KD)