Are you interested in scuba diving Shipwrecks? Koh Tao’s main Wreck dive and one of our premier dive sites is the HTMS Sattukut, an ex Thai Navy ship sunk off the coast of Koh Tao in 2011.
A Brief History
Built for the US Navy at the Commercial Iron Works, Portland in 1944 USS LCI (M)-739 (Landing Craft Infantry) was used in the pacific theatre during WW2. She participated in some of the fiercest campaigns during WW2, in particular the battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Her role in these operations was to land US Marines onto the beaches and provide cover fire. She was awarded 3 battle stars during her active service.
After the war USS LCI-739 was commissioned into the Royal Thai Navy and renamed HTMS Sattukut (LCI 742) remaining in service until 2007 when she was decommissioned. After the removal of all hazardous materials, the Sattakut was sunk of the west coast of Koh Tao creating an artificial reef and much needed additional dive site. The Sattakut has taken significant pressure off some of the more popular dive sites around Koh Tao.
On 18th June 2011 HTMS Sattakut went under during a controlled sinking. Due to poor weather conditions she didn’t sink as planned, instead resting on her side when she reached the bottom. At the beginning of August 2011 a successful operation was launched to relocate the wreck to an upright position. Her new home was South of two of Koh Tao’s most popular dive sites White Rock and Hin Pee Wee, making it a short boat ride away from Crystal Dive.
Let’s Go Get Wrecked!
The wreck lies in a perfect position for scuba divers, especially those wishing to dive the wreck as part of their PADI Advanced Open Water course. The base of the ship rests at depths between 27m – 30 m, depending whether you are at the bow or stern.
The top mast of the wheelhouse protrudes up to 18m making this a wonderful deep dive site. To get the most of the dive it is a great idea to use Enriched Air Nitrox allowing you a longer dive time.
A large 76mm/50 Mk 22 DP gun at the Bow and a 40mm/60 Bofors Mk III cannon at the Stern are amazing sights, and with numerous portholes and doorways to explore, the HTMS Sattakut has much to offer and provides wonderful photography opportunities.
As you descend marine life swirls around, huge schools of fusiliers swarm around the Sattakut, giant groupers and snapper gather around the deck. Moray Eels pop out from nooks and crannies as they look for food and shelter.
We have had Whalesharks sightings here too, cruising past in their never ending search for plankton.
Such abundance of marine life on an historical WW2 ship wreck has made HTMS Sattukut one of Koh Tao’s premier dive sites, definitely one of the most interesting and certainly one of our customers favourites, whether student divers completing the PADI Wreck Adventure dive or our certified divers enjoying fun diving on Koh Tao.
Why stay on the outside when there is so much more to explore inside? The PADI Wreck Diver Specialty course offers divers the chance to enter wrecks and explore inside. The PADI Wreck Spec consists of 4 training dives. The course teaches divers how to plan, organise and conduct penetration dives of an underwater wreck safely.
You will also learn how to map wrecks so you know where all entry points are and will learn how to use a reel and line to make sure you know how to exit the wreck safely.
As you explore the interior you will bump into giant Starry Puffer fish, Cleaner Shrimp and Wrasses that have made the Sattukut their home. As you look around the various rooms it is hard not to be excited and curious about the ships history.
Once inside I always imagine the US Marines who were once here getting themselves prepared for what was to come as they hit the pacific beaches.
Here are some Historical facts about the HTMS Sattakut (LCI-742):
30th January 1944 – Construction commenced at The Commercial Iron Works, Portland, USA
27th February 1944 – Ship Launched
6th March 1944 – Commissioned by US Navy for the World War II Asia-Pacific Theatre as the USS LCI (M) -739
31st December 1944 – Reclassified Landing Craft Infantry (Gunboat) LCI (G) -739
30th April 1945 – Reclassified Landing Craft Infantry (Mortar) LCI (M) -739
During World War II, USS LCI (L)(G)(M) – 739 was assigned to the Asia-Pacific Theatre:
LCI Flotilla Fourteen – CAPT. T.W. Rimer
LCI Group Forty (Flagship) – LCDR. H. Brown
LCI Division Seventy-Nine
Participated in the following campaigns:
Western Caroline Islands Operation:
Capture & occupation of southern Palau Islands – 6th September to 14th October 1944
Iwo Jima Operation (as LCI (G) -739)
Assault & occupation of Iwo Jima – 19th February to 3rd March 1945
Kinawa Gunto Operation (as LCI (G) -739 and LCI (M) -739)
Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto – 26th March to 14th June 1945
10th March 1947 – Transfer to US State Department, transfer to Royal Thai Navy and commissioned as HTMS Sattakut
2007 – Decommissioned by Royal Thai Navy
18th June 2011 – Sunk as an artificial reef off Koh Tao, Thailand
For more information on this PADI Specialty, visit our PADI Wreck Diver Specialty course page.
Author: Matt Bolton (PADI CD 463559)