Bali archeologists made an amazing find during dive in eastern Indonesian island of Flores this month: a shipwreck likely belonging to the Japanese army in the World War II era.
The findings were a part of a study being conducted by the Bali Archaeological Institute from May 8 to May 23, near Wairterang Beach, Sikka Regency, about 29 kilometers east from the city of Maumere.
The ship’s frame, found about 100 meters from the shore, is still complete, according to I Wayan Sumerata, chairman of the institute’s research team. The ship was found at a depth of 34 meters and measures 62 meters long, with a 10-meter wide hull, 3.8 meter bow, 6.7-meter stern, and a deck height of 4.5 meters.
The ship is believed to have been sunken in 1943, after it was hit by a bomb.
“According to a witness, Pius Sola, the ship belonged to the Japanese, that anchored at Wairterang Beach for charcoal and wood transport. At that time, the forest in Wairterang was very dense. The ship was then attacked by an allied army bomb and sunk,” Sumerata said on Tuesday, as quoted by the Tribun news network.
Damage to the ship’s hull shows where the bomb would have hit, says Sumerata.
“The ship was made of iron, visible from the broken hull. Based on historical witnesses, the ship belonged to the Japanese army,” he added.
The Bali Archaeological Institute has suggested the Sikka Regency government to now block off the area to fishing and prohibit anchoring.
“If a boat is anchored here, the anchor would be lowered, potentially damaging coral reefs that live on this wreck,” Sumerata said.
Protecting the site and the corals there is beneficial in the long run for developing the spot as a cultural heritage site, which could provide economic benefits to the local people, Sumerata added