The Story of her Sinking
Army Cargo Ship – She was anchored near a small uninhabited islet called Dimalanta at the north coast of Busuanga with another 2 cargo ships lying abreast. As VB-19 was a couple of minutes behind the other air groups, attacks had already begun over Coron Bay when they reached the North-eastern shore of Busuanga at 09:00 hrs. The leader of the entire strike force (Commander Ellis of AG-18?) ordered VB-19 to attack the targets in the northern area. Unfortunately, the pilots were not allowed to drop their wing tanks what was believed "considerably affecting the accuracy of the bombing". Out of ten planes attacking the Japanese ships eight lost one wing tank during the dives. Main target was, of course, the single stack 10,000 ts-AK which most likely was "Kyokuzan Maru".
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According to the "After Action Report" of VB-19 Lt. (J.G.) L. R. Swanson scored a direct hit upon her port side, and "three or more very near misses on this ship" from other planes were noted. As a result, the ship was set aflame on the port side near her living quarters. However, it is obvious that the vessel did not sink due to the bombing as hull, cargo holds as well as engine room are still intact and lifeboat davits have been swung out (note this point during your next dive). It is assumed that her crew scuttled and abandoned the ship later on.
One of the other two cargo ships received a very near miss and got strafed thereafter. A small fire broke out; however, no wreckage was found. Obviously, both vessels remained afloat and managed to escape.
The Diving on the Wreck today
This wreck was sunk on the north side of Busuanga Island and, because of its distance to the other wrecks the Coron dive operations don't make this trip very often. No problem with Rags II. We can always combine this fantastic wreck with a trip to Apo and /or Coron. Visibility tends to be better here than in Coron Bay and often reaches up to 20 meters. The deepest parts of the wreck are at 40 meters, while most of the deck levels are between 22 and 28 meters. The wreck lists about 10° to starboard and has a compass bearing of 160°.
You can still see the remains of trucks and cars in the cargo holds. The wreck is still almost intact and quite easy to penetrate. Keep the depth in mind though and Nitrox is the gas of choice again.
The wreck attracts a lot of marine life, so it offers something for everyone. We always recommend at least two dives on this wreck and we can combine it with shallower reef dives nearby.