The Story of her Sinking
Army cargo ship – Regretably, this wreck has caused much confusion due to contradicting statements in published American sources. In their statistics of 1947, the U.S. Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee (the so-called "JANAC Report") had listed "Ekkai Maru" bombed and sunk in Coron Bay on 24 Sep 1944 (page 69). Then, in Feb 1952 the Military History Section at U.S. General Headquarters of the Far East Command released their "Graphic Presentation of the Japanese Naval Organization and the List of Combatant and Non-Combatant Vessels lost or damaged in the War". According to that document "Ekkai Maru", surprisingly, was sunk in Manila!
(scroll down for the video)
To make things worse, a vessel which showed similarity with the unidentified wreck in the northern part of Coron Bay has been listed in the 1952 U.S. statistics as a 2,939 gross tons cargo ship named "Taiei Maru". This created even more confusion since a civilian tanker bearing the name "Taiei Maru" appears on the list of Japanese shipping losses and –allegedly, had been sunk in Coron Bay as well! Today, it`s definite: the mysterious "Pearl Farm Wreck" formerly known as "Taiei Maru" or "Hector" or – as mentioned in some sources – just "A 191″ was the "Ekkai Maru" ex-"Morazan" ex-"Manco", a Panama-flag cargo vessel with little passenger capacity which was confiscated by the Japanese during their advance in China in December 1941.
Everybody can see the letters "CEI…BH" on the stern. These may have been parts of the previous homeport name, i.e. "CEIBA – BH" (for British Honduras).
This was the vessel`s homeport before being captured by Japanese forces near China in Dec 1941.
As you can see on every dive the ship suffered a series of direct hits in the bridge superstructure as well as into the hull. Obviously, she must have received some below-waterline hits on her starboard side which caused a tremendous explosion of the engine-room which finally led to her sinking.
The last picture of the Ekkai Maru
The Diving on the Wreck today:
This is a very nice dive with lots of good coral growth and marine life, because the wreck lies at a relatively shallow 24 meters on her starboard side, with the portside hull at only 12 meters of depth and a compass bearing of 50°.
You can see many large lettuce corals, hydroids, black corals, brown finger sponges, white sponges and sea anemones with clownfish. The fish life includes schools of small fusiliers, batfish, large groupers, rabbitfish, damselfish and even mantas have been spotted here before. Wreck diving enthusiasts will not be disappointed either! Very nice penetration dives can be conducted here, from easy to challenging. Don't miss the boiler room!