Diving the Igara Wreck

Igara Wreck


The Igara is a wreck off the East Coast of Malaysia that sank on 12 March 1973. At the time of her sinking the Igara was the largest ever single marine insurance loss in maritime history. Valued at over US$25 million she was loaded with 127,718 tonnes of Brazilian Iron Ore.

Now covered in gorgeous soft corals and bursting with marine life she has become a regular favourite of Singapore divers. However, before diving here, all should be aware for the potential of very strong currents & poor visibility, conditions on the Igara are ‘changeable’ to say the least & is recommended for advanced divers only!















The Igara was an Italian ore/oil steamship of 136,400 metric tons deadweight (DWT). It was on voyage from Vitoria to Muroran when after passing through the Sunda Strait, she struck an unchartered rock in the South China sea about 190 miles from Horsborough Lighthouse, off Mendarik Island, on 11 March 1973. However she did not sink immediately but continued her voyage until her bow settled submerged and resting on the sea bottom in approx 40 metres of water about 70 miles from Singapore. She settled with her entire stern section sticking out of the water. The following day 27 of the 38 man crew abandoned ship being picked up in their lifeboats by passing vessels. The master and 10 crew remained on board until 19 March when she began to break across Hold No.1. Salvagers used explosives to cut through the ship at Hold No. 1 and the entire rear section of the ship was towed to Japan where a new forward section was attached and she was renamed the Eraclide.

Subsequent salvage

ICRL (International Cargo Recoveries Limited), a BVI-based salvage management company, recognized the value of remaining iron ore cargo, contacted the insurers and acquired the legal rights to the ore and the salvage rights to the hull. In 2005/2006 ICRL contracted Deep Water Recoveries (S) Pte Ltd (“DWR”) to recover the ore. DWR recovered all the ore accessible to big grabs (60,000mt) and the operation grossed US$2.5m.Recreational dive site

The ship now lies in around 40m of water rising to 11m at the top of the wreck. Despite only half the wreck remaining this is a huge wreck with vast open cargo holds. The site is prone to very strong currents and occasional bad visibility.

The wreck was nicknamed the 'turtle wreck' by divers due to a resident turtle although more recent reports suggest the turtle is no longer present. Three resident nurse sharks are sometimes spotted in the storage rooms in the stern. The wreck is overgrown with soft corals, sponges and hydroids. Divers frequently see schools of barracudas, snappers, fusiliers, angelfish, groupers and batfish. Divers have also reported seeing a large and aggressive groupers. Blotched fantail stingrays (Marbled stingray) can also be found close to the bottom.

More recent salvage work has removed further hatch covers offering further penetrations into the holds. The more forward holds have large cracks in between and in the hull – these offer plenty of light and passage in the form of a swim-through.