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Deep Wrecks-Palawan-Asante-August 8, 2015

P1020328Deeper wrecks aren’t everyone’s favorite but for those of us that like that sort of thing this turned out to be a great trip besides I like to think depth is all relative to what you want to see and accomplish. The trip was on Saturday, Aug. 8th aboard the Asante out of Ports of Call, San Pedro and the plan was to dive the wrecks of the Palawan & the Avalon, 2 very cool wrecks that are just off shore along the Palos Verdes coast.

The Asante gets you to the dive sites fast and it is comfortable once you get settled in. They recently have also made more improvements and still have more planned. With the Truth not returning to Long Beach in 2016 Channel Islands Dive Adventures will be having even more trips on the Asante then we have now in 2015.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyways, our 1st dive was the Palawan at a depth of about 120’ and the few dives I have done I have never seen the bow which I hear is very cool. Come to find out on this past trip my buddy Linda and I turned left and found out afterwards if we had gone right the bow was a short distance away. I guess there is always next time and now I can’t wait. It was a cool dive with plenty to see and about 20′ vis, no current and 55 degrees at depth.

USS PalawanThe Palawan was launched in Aug. 1944; the vessel was initially to be a cargo carrying Liberty Ship. However before she was commissioned, she was acquired by the Navy and converted to an Internal Combustion Engine Repair Ship and arrived in the Philippines in August, 1945.  USS PALAWAN spent the remainder of the war and a good period of post-war service supporting the fleet in Japan, China and other areas of the Far East.  PALAWAN was decommissioned 16 June 1947 and initially was laid-up in in the Pacific Reserve Fleet, San Diego, CA.  On 14 March 1962 she was transferred to the Maritime Administration for relocation and layup in the National Defense Reserve Fleet, Suisun Bay, Benicia, CA.

PALAWAN was struck from the Naval Register early in 1962 and remained out of service until obtained in 1976 by the California Department of Fish and Game as part of an artificial reef project.  She was to be the first of three Liberty-type ships to be sunk off the coast.

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In September 1977, under the guidance of a US Navy demolition team, the PALAWAN was sunk a short distance off King Harbor, Redondo Beach.  Today the ship sits upright in 120 feet of water and has become a vibrant artificial reef.  Over the years the CDF&G has added additional materials around the site including concrete piles and freeway rubble and these along with the ship make it an interesting and exciting dive whether for hunter or photographer.

SS Virginia-AvalonWe then moved to the Avalon sitting around 75’ deep where we stayed for 2 dives because the conditions were so good and with so much to see we would need a 2nd dive. Vis here was 20′-30′ and we had sightings of some medium sized black sea bass on the 2nd dive on the Avalon. Linda I got out to the crane area which was a first for me and now I know where I need to explore more for the next trip. We saw quite a lot of schooling fish and lots of sea fans growing on the wreckage-great dives!

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The AVALON made thousands of crossings between L.A. Harbor and the city of Avalon on Catalina Island.  Beginning in early 1920, and retired in 1951, the ship was one of the best known vessels on the Southern California coast.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABuilt in 1891 she was launched as the S.S. VIRGINIA and was one of the most luxurious vessels in the US commercial fleet.  In 1919 she was sold to William Wrigley and brought to Los Angeles via the Panama Canal.  Beginning in April, 1920 she would run almost continuously for the next 31 years.

In 1951, she was sold and a series of owners modified her, removed her machinery and finally cut her down to a barge.  In 1964 while being used for the salvage of the stranded freighter DOMINATOR on Rocky Point (Palos Verdes Point), she was overcome during a violent storm and foundered a short distance northwest of the salvage site.

All in all another great adventure with fun people-it doesn’t get much better than that!

By Ken Kollwitz