Welcome to the Ryuko Maru wreck dive, located just 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Koror, Palau. This dive site is perfect for intermediate to advanced level divers who are interested in exploring the remains of a Standard Type 1C 2500-ton Class Cargo Steamer ship that sank during World War II.

The Ryuko Maru is sitting upright in 100 feet (30 m) of water, with the deck at 80 feet (25 m) and the superstructure at 70 feet (21 m). The visibility varies at this site, with an average of 45-60 feet (15-20 m). However, the bottom of the bay is thick silt, which can quickly reduce visibility to 5 feet (1.5 m) if the tide is running.

To dive at the Ryuko Maru, you must have a Wreck Diver Certification if you plan to penetrate the wreck. This dive requires careful monitoring of bottom time and air consumption. However, there is no current at this site, making it a relatively easy dive for experienced divers.

The Ryuko Maru wreck is covered with extensive coral growth, including black coral bushes growing out of the rails, decks, and superstructures. You'll also find whip corals, hard coral, sponges, oysters, and other sessile growth covering the rest of the ship. This diverse marine life attracts a range of tropical fish such as rainbow runners, fusiliers, anthias, jacks, and lionfish, making it a fascinating underwater ecosystem to explore.

underwater photo of a batfish in front of the mast of a wreck in Palau

Divers can enter the forecastle with ease, but the sediment is very thick and easily stirred up. Cargo holds one and two are empty and can be entered, but the sediment is thick here too. The amidships area features two gun mounts, one of which has fallen down to the deck, and the other rests on the flying bridge. Cargo hold three and four have no dividing bulkhead, allowing divers to swim between them under the mast house. The poop deck is in fairly good shape and allows access to the steering compartment.

Aside from its historical significance as a cargo steamer ship during World War II, the Ryuko Maru is also notable for being tracked by U.S. codebreakers as she departed Chuuk for Palau, carrying survivors from the Tatsuha Maru and a load of ammunition.

In summary, the Ryuko Maru wreck dive is a must-visit site for experienced divers interested in exploring a fascinating piece of World War II history while immersing themselves in a diverse and thriving marine ecosystem.