KOTA KINABALU – Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun Thursday ‘sank’ a 52-year-old vessel that will become an artificial reef in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park off this city.
The patrol vessel, KM Kuraman, had been in the service of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency since 2006 after it was handed over by the Royal Malaysian Navy.
MMEA Sabah and Labuan Region director First Admiral (Maritime) Mohd Zubil Mat Som said that though it was a sad moment of parting with the vessel, the MMEA was happy that it would serve as a ‘shipwreck’ for divers in the Sabah waters.
Masidi said the vessel would become the latest tourist attraction and diving spot for Sabah while serving as a new habitat for marine life in the park.
He also said that the park had more than 12 diving spots which attracted 7,929 divers last year and 7,526 this year up to September.
Masidi said the vessel was sunk in a location deep enough not to interfere with Kota Kinabalu’s shipping routes, but not too deep (at about 20 metres) in order to allow divers to enjoy the wreck attraction.
The sinking ceremony of the 31.4 metre-long, seven metre-wide ship and turn it into a ‘wreck dive’ attraction was described as a bittersweet experience for him, said Zubil.
“We are sad to part with a maritime asset which has its own historical value. But we are happy, as its legacy continues as the first shipwreck for scuba diving within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park,” he said.
Zubil added that the MMEA has conducted similar ship sinkings off Langkawi, Kelantan, Tioman and Perak, where the shipwrecks were found to be an effective way to create breeding grounds for fish.