First Ever Night Dive on HTMS Khram – another Success by Mermaids Divers
All of the guys that organized this trip are current and past scuba diving interns. All of their combined dive training and camaraderie allowed them to pull off this superb night ship wreck dive in Pattaya.
The HTMS Khram is a former United States landing warship that was commissioned in 1945 as the USS LSM-469. The Vessel was decommissioned and sold to the Royal Thai Navy in 1962 as the HTMS Khram. In February 2003 the Thai Navy sunk the HTMS Khram as an artificial reef in Pattaya, Thailand. Details can be seen here…
The HTMS Khram has been an excellent host for divers wishing to explore this fabulous and intact wreck. Check out the blue print just here. To this date ( December 22nd 2004 ) there has been no documented or recorded night dive on the HTMS Khram, when a group of Mermaid Divers were to change this.
The dive day organization was carried out by Mermaids Divemaster Will Lardner, and safety was the number one priority throughout the entire planning and organization.
The Dive boat arrived at the location of the wreck at around 3pm on Wednesday 22nd December 2004 and the dive teams began to prepare for the first dive on the Khram during the hours of light in order to prepare the site for a safe dive at night. A Drop tank was placed at 5 metres in the event of air depletion during the safety stops and each team was given chemical glow sticks to place on the wreck so that these glow sticks would outline the edges of the wreck and mark any overhangs that might cause problems when dark. A dive brief was given to the dive teams by Will and the intensions of the dive were given to the divers to plan their dives accordingly.
At 3:30pm the divers entered the water and proceeded down the stern line to the wreck, once all the teams arrived at the bottom of the wreck all teams performed an air check and proceeded with the dive. Glow sticks were mainly placed on the overhang beams that go across the ship from port to starboard which could be dangerous if not spotted at night.
After 25mins of the dive, all team returned to the surface to change tanks and rest while waiting for the sun to set.
Because such a dive was not performed on this wreck before, the divers were selected from Mermaids staff and interns at a level of PADI Divemaster or above and have completed 3 dives minimum 1 week prior to the dive, As it was all divers on the dive have completed at least 30 dives previous on the Khram.
The Divers were as follows: –
- Paul Price (Instructor)
- Peter Marshall (Instructor)
- Jamie (Instructor)
- Mark Slingo (Instructor)
- Neil James (Instructor)
- Jeremy Griffin (Divemaster)
- Lee Smitten (Divemaster)
- James Anger (Divemaster)
- Patrick Lawless (Divemaster)
- Will Lardner (Divemaster)
Once the sun went down the night sky was lit by the moon light and the Mermaids divers kitted up and performed all checks on equipment and torches, a Minimum of 2 torches and 1 chemical stick for each diver. It was around 7pm and the first team began their decent down the line, and was quickly followed by the rest of the teams, again all the teams performed their air checks at the bottom of the line and then proceeded on the dive tour.
It wasn’t long into the dive when everybody concluded that the planning and preparation for the dive was indeed well worth it, The first look at the wreck coming towards you in the torch light was breath taking, almost like watching the first submarines getting a look at Titanic as she emerges from the dark waters, this was going to be a truly spectacular dive.
The glow sticks assisted divers in keeping their distance from the hazards and a help they were, each team kept close to the deck floor and keeping their torches on the wreck at all times, the glow sticks on each divers tank strap helped keep all the dive teams together throughout the entire dive.
With the darkness set on the HTMS Khram it gave the divers a first look at marine life on the wreck during the hours of darkness, the famous Barracuda residents of the Khram, roughly 1 ½ metres in length that normally sit 10 metres off the vessels stern during the day have now moved into the main deck area, waiting for the Khram’s inhabitants to take their chances in the open water, the Barracuda indeed hunt at night and the Khram’s marine life is more than ample for the night hungry predators.
Because of safety and certification levels, no dive team or diver were permitted to penetrate the wreck, which by hours of light is possible. The dive tour by the dive team leaders were kept strictly to the open sections of the deck and around the command tower.
After a 25 minute dive, each team ascended to the surface for a 3 minute safety stop before emerging from the dark waters and returning to the boat. 19:45 and Jerry who is on boat cover gives a roll call to ensure all divers are back on board; once the ok was given the divers toasted the completion of a truly spectacular dive.
It was clear from hearing discussions from the divers on the way back to port that everyone enjoyed the dive, and it was obvious that this would not be the last time such a dive would happen on HTMS Khram, Well done Will. (Well done to all of the guys – Pj).
Dive Site Stats:
- Surface to wreck = 16m.
- Surface to sea floor =28m.
- Surface to crows nest =8m.
- Penetration on all 3 main decks.
- Surface to wreck buoys on stern and box.
- Marine life = Puffer Fish/ Blue Spotted Rays/ Bamboo Sharks/Barracuda.
- Hazards = Jelly Fish/Sea Urchins/Sharp Metal/Stinging Hydroids/Barnacles (with good training – nothing to worry about!).
Report by Lee Smitten (Divemaster) Mermaids Dive School, Pattaya