On Dec 15th 1944, 1,619 American and British prisoners of war were herded onto this Japanese luxury liner for transportation to Japan where they were to be used as slave labour. Being unidentifiable, Allied planes and shipping had no way of knowing that prisoners were aboard and she was attacked and sunk resulting in huge loss of life. Vessels such as these were known as Hell Ships, so named because of the horrendous conditions the prisoners were kept in. The Oryoku Maru was sunk by heavy bombardment from American fighters and more than 300 Allied prisoners were lost.
The dive site is only 400m off Alava Pier and rests in 18m of water. As she was sunk in shipping lanes, she was crushed by explosives afterwards to eradicate threats to navigation.
It is now a mess of iron which has become home to a colourful array of marine life. Clown fish, angelfish, spotted sweetlips and lobster will be encountered and regular schools of barracuda and talakitok swim overhead.