The ill-fated 85 meter King Cruiser catamaran passenger ferry sank on the 4th of May 1997.
The car ferry was on its daily route between Phuket and the famous Phi Phi Islands.
It strayed into a submerged rocky pinnacle called Anemone Reef in southern Thailand around 16 km from its destination.
The incident smashed a large gaping hole in one of the hulls and the ship went down in less than 3 hours.
Fortunately all the 561 Thai and local holidaymaker passengers were rescued by nearby police patrol boats and nearby fishing boats who immediately responded to emergency distress calls.
The most serious injury was a broken back suffered by an elderly lady and shock symptoms for many other passengers.
Best Dive Months: November to April
Average Depth: 12 meters
Maximum Depth: 30 meters
Visibility: 10 - 20 meters
Currents: Moderate to Strong
Hazards: Unstable Structures
Marine Life: Nudibranch, Turtles, Boxfish, Pipefish, Fusiliers, Squirrel Fish, Rabbit Fish, Butterfly Fish, Octopus, Moray Eels, Stingrays, Wrasse, Angelfish, Damsel Fish, Puffer Fish, Snappers, Hermit Crab.
The crossing took place in tranquil conditions and the captains were well aware of the charted position of the reef. Unconfirmed causes of the accident have been theorized ever since which continue to remain unproven.
Whispers of insurance fraud, the unprofitable operations of the company, and financial difficulties remain rumors until proven.
Probably the most outrageous is that local scuba schools financed the deliberate sinking of the King Cruiser to create Phuket's first artificial reef. The question may never be answered with certitude however the captain was subsequently charged and found guilty of negligence.
The King Cruiser wreckage largely prevails as a single underwater structure. Some upper deck sections have collapsed but close to 100 meters of oxidizing metal create the biggest artificial reef and recreational dive site in the area.
The craft rests upright in 30 meters of water on a sandy silt bottom. The top of the wreck levels out around 10 meters below the surface but it is regarded as a dive for experienced divers because of the local hazards.
Using the appropriate equipment and having the necessary dive training is essential if you contemplate going inside a wreck. The only practical entry point of the King Cruiser is at the stern where the car decks and the engine trolleys were once active.
Over 15 years of coral growth has established itself along the ship's belly and down the sides. Less experienced submariners can enjoy a comical photo session around the surviving porcelain toilets. Beware they haven't been cleaned recently and they are surrounded by large invasive lionfish.
The entire wreck is regularly ambushed by shoals of big-eyed trevally, barracudas and yellow snappers. Lionfish grow to enormous sizes here and turtles wander around unperturbed by the activities of scuba divers.
Phuket Dive Sites |> Shark Point |> Anemone Reef |> Koh Doc Mai |> Koh Racha Yai |> Koh Racha Noi |
Descend deeper and you are likely to see docile leopard sharks and small bamboo sharks. This is undoubtedly a superb excuse to spend up to an hour submerged on an old wreck near Phuket.