The Story of her Sinking
(Civilian oiler) She had been mistaken for more than 50 years to be a ship of very similar shape and size named Taiei Maru. She was in Manila Bay during the said air attacks. The ship got strafed but was only slightly damaged. On 22 Sep she was ordered to move to Coron Bay and set sail at 1500. The vessel arrived in Coron Bay on 23 Sep 1800 and dropped anchor near Concepcion.
(scroll down for the video)
At 0855 on 24 Sep the ship was attacked by 70 dive bombers. The first two or more groups just strafed her and continued to head for the seaplane tender Akitsushima which anchored a few cables to the West. At 0910 the bombers had scored numerous series of hits and the vessel began to sink.
Three gunners and 5-6 sailors were dead. Rest of the crew abandoned the ship. However, contrary to statements of Helldiver crew Bowie and Dietrich(AG-31) Okikawa Maru did not sink at once. The forecastle remained afloat and burned until 9 Oct when another U.S. airgroup appeared and, in a final strike, send her to the bottom of the sea.
There used to be a lot of confusion regarding the true identity of this wreck. For many years after her discovery she was simply called the Concepcion wreck like the nearby village. For a long time she was then thought to be the Taie Maru, but this proved to be wrong and it is now a proven fact that it is indeed the Okikawa Maru.
The last picture of Okikawa Maru (on the right corner next to Chinan Island)
The Diving on the Wreck today
This is a brilliant dive for wreck and reef enthusiasts as well. The very top of the superstructure starts at a shallow 10 meters and the bottom of the ship rests at 26 meters. The bow is pointing at 330°. The whole wreck is a coral reef environment on its own, with hard and soft corals covering the entire length and width. Huge amounts of tropical reef fish surround the wreck and feed in the often strong current, but even during times when the currents are running, you will always be able to find sheltered areas on this massive tanker. The macro life is excellent as well. Watch out for rare nudibranches and flatworms. Great penetrations dives can be made entering at the propeller shaft through to the huge engine room and on into the oil tank. The bow sits almost vertical and you can only imagine the forces involved bending this structure that way.
The Okikawa Maru is also an excellent training ground for wreck dive training courses, be it on a recreational or technical level.