Early in 2003, the Thai Navy sank a decommissioned U.S. Warship between Koh Phai and Koh Larn island approx 15 km from Pattaya.
Sunk intentionally, the ship lies in 30 meters of water in the Gulf of Thailand.
It now provides a breeding ground for fish and a wreck dive for scuba divers.
The Thai Navy prepared the ship as a dive site, and it is free from arms, oil, and most of the other hazards to divers. Large holes allow penetration dives through the ships passages, whilst remaining in natural daylight.
The wreck dive is a scuba diving gift for fish lovers', with Barracuda, Trevallys, Jacks, Fusiliers, Bat fish, Turtles, Stone fish, Porcupine fish, Unicorn fish and Sharks to name just a few.
Best Dive Months: November to April
Average Depth: 16 meters
Maximum Depth: 31 meters
Visibility: 5 - 15 meters
Currents: Moderate to Strong
Hazards: Nets, Stonefish, Barnacles
A typical boat trip from Pattaya Port to the HTMS Khram Shipwreck will take around ninety minutes and it can be a choppy journey in the open water passed the near islands of Koh Larn and Koh Sark.
The wreck dive has no shelter from any wind and currents on the day so it can be a tricky entry and exit from the boat. Assuming that there is a descent line attached to the wreck, the best advice is not to waste time on the surface but to start descending as soon as appropriate.
The descent down may feel daunting for the 'first timers' because other than the mooring line and schools of feeding Jacks, there is little to use as a visual reference until you see the general outline of the US Landing Craft at 15 to 18 meters below the surface.
The American WW11 Vessel is approximately seventy meters long and the descent line is usually attached to the top of the tower on the starboard side. The ship lays north to south with the bow facing almost due south and most divers will usually spend the first five or ten minutes following the general layout inside the sheltered belly of the wreck.
Care should be taken here not to get too close to the structure with excess fining as this will ruin the viz for any divers behind you. However, if you're in the first group down, you are most likely to see the resident turtle that calls the HTMS Kram 'Home'.
On the outside of the wreck around 22 - 25 meters you're most likely to see shoals of circling barracuda and schools of jacks. Barracudas (Sphyraena) on the Khram Wreck tend to be either large and fearsome looking examples searching for its next meal or small schools that seem to ambush the hovering diver.
The jacks and fusiliers tend to swarm around the wreck waiting for an opportune moment to feed on small fish.
Although the wreck can be penetrated during the Wreck Diver Specialty Course, without the proper training and equipment, wreck penetration of the Khram should be avoided. There are a few areas that lend themselves as 'swim throughs' but I would stress that these areas are for divers with a lot of wreck diving experience and near Perfect Buoyancy.
Your first dive on the HTMS Kram Ship Wreck is likely to be short on bottom time mainly due to your air consumption at depth. Most divers will be starting their ascent after 20 minutes or so and the best advice is to make your way back to the tower and ascent line.
Circling the tower for a few minutes as you slowly ascend to the mooring rope helps to off-gas nitrogen and also offers a chance to see some macro marine life in the crevices and barnacle formations. I always like to make a 'deep stop' as an added precaution so I'll generally decompress on the ascent line around 12 - 15 meters for one or two minutes, before making the customary safety stop at 5-6 meters for at least three minutes.
A big 'OK' Hand Sign as you reach the surface signals that you are in good shape and ready to get back on board. I've personally dived the Khram more than 100 times and in my opinion it is one of the best dives for experienced divers in Pattaya.
Shipwreck in Pattaya |> HTMS Kut |> HTMS Mataphon |> Bremen Wreck |> Hardeep Shipwreck |
It's proven to be a such a major attraction for holiday divers and wreck diving enthusiasts who visit the resort of Pattaya, that there are concerted efforts to introduce more wreck structures into the eastern seaboard waters in the near future.