The Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the SMS Cormoran II being scuttled in Apra Harbor from April 1-14. The ship was scuttled purposely by her captain on April 7, 1917 rather than be surrendered to the US who had just entered World War I. She came to rest at the bottom of Apra Harbor where she lay undisturbed until the second World War.
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During WWII, Guam was captured from the US by the Japanese Imperial Army and occupied for two and a half years. On August 20, 1943, the Japanese military transport ship Tokai Maru sunk in Apra Harbor after being torpedoed by a US submarine. Amazingly, the Tokai Maru came to rest leaning against the SMS Cormoran, creating the only place in the world where shipwrecks from two different World Wars touch. The site has become extremely popular with divers, who are attracted by the opportunity to touch two relics from different periods in history at the same time.
One of the favorite spots inside the Cormoran for divers is the bathtubs. This picture is at the stern of the ship, two levels down at a depth of 95 feet. This bathtub is one of three separate bathtubs still accessible. It is believed that the clawfoot bathtub in the superstructure belonged to the officers.
Events during the commemoration of the SMS Cormoran’s scuttling will include special dive tours of the twin shipwrecks. The GVB has worked with several of Guam’s leading scuba diving companies to develop dive packages to the site of the twin shipwrecks. Anyone wanting to take advantage of these dive tours must have Advance Open Water dive certification or higher. The dive packages available include a variety of extras that will make it difficult to select between the equally qualified dive companies.
Blue Persuasion Diving has created a package tour that includes three dives to the shipwrecks of WWI and II, including the SMS Cormoran. The package has been created for six divers, with a seventh diver included for free. Booked tours will receive a 3-tank wreck dive discount and interested dive groups can find out more by visiting their website at bulepersuasionguam.com
The 100th Anniversary Cormoran Package developed by Axe Murderer Tour Guam includes several dives to the site at various times on April 7, 2017 beginning with a midnight dive. There are three other dives to choose from on this day. Each dive package includes a 1-tank dive, a SMS Cormoran informational dive site brochure, stickers, a limited edition 100th Anniversary t-shirt, and discounts on exclusive SMS Cormoran and Tokai Maru souvenir items. More information is available on their website, amtguam.com
Micronesia Divers Association (MDA), one of Guam’s oldest dive companies, has created dive tours to the SMS Cormoran on April 7 and 8, 2017. Their package includes a 1-tank dive to the twin shipwrecks, a commemorative coin, a limited-edition t-shirt, and a rare signed copy of “Flight of the Cormoran” written by Herbert T. Ward, who rediscovered the ship in the 1960s. Ward dove the SMS Cormoran many times, rescuing many items from the deep. This amazing book is no longer in print and a signed copy is easily considered a collector’s item among dive enthusiasts. The MDA package is limited to the first 100 divers. For more information or to reserve a space, interested parties can visit their website at mdaguam.com
Photos by Michael A. Schuck