Pacific island of Kosrae offers historic wreck sites for divers


TOFOL, Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia – The lush tropical island of Kosrae, located halfway between Hawaii and Guam is home to the world’s most unspoiled coral reefs. It also offers some interesting options for scuba divers who are wreck diving enthusiasts.

For starters there is the wreck of the 19th century sailing ship the Lenora, once sailed by the feared pirate Bully Hayes. There are also three 20th century airplane wrecks to explore. One of these is the re-discovered wreck of a Grumman Albatross airplane.

The Lenora

The historic remnants of the Lenora, named for one of Bully Hayes’ twin daughters, rests in 40 feet of water in Kosrae’s Utwe Harbor. This ship was captained by the notorious 19th-century American pirate and trader who often used Kosrae as a hiding place. In I874 a typhoon whipped the ocean waters and sank the ship. It was discovered in the harbor 110 years later. Though not much remains of the ship, it is a fun bit of island lore to enjoy.

Another sailing ship from the 1800s, a wooden whaler, rests in Kosrae’s Lelu Harbor in about 70 feet of water. As with the Lenora, there is little left to see, but the remnants of the whalers’ trade are present and the diver’s imagination can fill in the rest.

Airplane wrecks

Martin PBM Mariners

There were only two Martin PBM Mariner seaplanes known to have sunk in the Kosrae area. The first is a PBM-5 which sank in 1945 and the second, a PBM-5A, which went down in 1955. One of the wrecks rests against a reef face in Kosrae’s Lelu Harbor under about 70 feet of water. The remains of the second PBM are located on the north side of the harbor, in about 60 feet of water. Historical records indicate that these planes crashed on takeoff.

The Martin PBM Mariner was a patrol bomber flying boat of World War II and the early Cold War period. It was designed to complement the PBY Catalina in service. A total of 1,366 were built, with the first example flying on February 18,1939 and the type entering service in September 1940.

New discoveries – another plane!

A new airplane wreck was recently re-discovered by Sleeping Lady Divers – a dive operator on Kosrae — also in the waters of Lelu Harbor. It is identified as a U.S. Navy Grumman Albatross airplane that was on a medevac mission. According to diver reports the airplane crashed nose first into the water. The plane rests at about 90 feet so dive time to see the wreck is limited even with Nitrox.