U.S.A.T Liberty Wreck

Today, January 11th, is the anniversary of when a torpedo struck the U.S.A.T Liberty. As a result a famous dive site was created in Bali.



An Army transport ship which was carrying railway parts and rubber as cargo. The U.S.A.T Liberty Wreck was embarking on a voyage from Australia to the Phillipines in 1942. She was 10 nautical miles off the coast of the Indonesian Island Lombok, when her journey stopped. The torpedo was sent from Japanese submarine 1-166.


Assisted by two destroyers the damaged ship was toed towards a port in the north of Bali. However the Liberty was taking on water too quickly and a decision was made to beach her in the small fishing village of Tulamben on the east coast of Bali. Here the cargo was salvaged and the broken ship was left and probably forgotten about.


Liberty - coral silhouette
Coral Silhouette


Twenty-one years later the iconic volcano of Bali, Mount Agung, erupted. As part of this eruption there was many earthquakes. These caused the damaged Liberty to fall into the water, landing on her starboard side.


Liberty - Star Divers
Star Divers


Diving on the U.S.A.T Liberty Wreck

Once diving started to take off in Bali in the 1980’s the Liberty was rediscovered. It quickly became the most famous diving site on the island. This is likely because of the wrecks locations. She is close to the beach which means easy access from the shore without the hassle of organizing boats. It is also suitable for all levels of divers. The top of the stern sits at just 5 meters whilst the bow falls down the sandy slop to 33 meters.


Liberty - Bumphead Parrotfish
Bumphead Parrotfish


At 125 meters long there is plenty for divers to explore and many dives can be done on this wreck before everything is discovered. There is a large abundance of marine life which calls the wreck home. This includes 2 Hawksbill Turtles, a Giant Barracuda, a school of 15 Bumphead Parrotfish, A pair of Napoleon Wrasse, many Sweetlips, Groupers, Scorpion fish and Moray eels. On the sand around the wreck many divers enjoy a bit of muck diving, looking for Frogfish, Mimic Octopus and an endless array of different Nudibranchs.


Liberty - Diver and Turtle
Diver and Turtle


Due to the age of the wreck, how it came to be and the vast coral growth; it is difficult to tell one part of the wreck from another, and it is sometimes referred to as a wreck of a wreck. The cargo room, boilers, bow and stern are the only part which can easily be recognized. There is also two guns and some ladders which are lying in random places, probably thrown from the wreck as she landed on her side.

Liberty - Stern

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