At the Matahari dive resort in Tulamben, Bali there is a poster on the wall which explains the fascinating story behind the Tulamben shipwreck. This is the text:
USAT Liberty Glo, a United States Army Transport Ship, was built at the Hog Island emergency shipyard in Philadelphia during World War 1, but was completed after the November 1918 armistice. Shortly after the U.S. entry into World War II, Liberty Glo was torpedoed by the Japanese and beached on the island of Bali and is now today a popular dive site.
Hog Island Hull No 517 was laid down as SS Scooba on June 12, 1918, but by the time it was launched on June 14, 1919, it had been renamed SS Liberty Glo. Delivered to the US Shipping Board on 2 August, 1919, she was a cargo ship of 5,000 GT and 7,825 long tons of deadweight (DWT), 394 feet (120 meters) long, and 54 feet (16 meters) beam. Liberty Glo was the 36th Hog Islander built and one of 12 built as “type B” troop carriers. (Liberty Glo was NOT a Liberty ship, which were a similar concept of vessel built during World War II)
On December 5, 1919, the Liberty Glo stuck a mine 10 miles (19km) northwest of Tershelling on the coast of the Netherlands. The explosion broke the hull in two from waterline to waterline, but with the deck plates and bulwarks holding the ship together, the captain managed to get it ashore with no casualties despite the heavy seas and save most of the US$2,000,0000 cargo.
The redesigned USAT Liberty Glo, remeasured at 6,211 tons was bound from Australia to the Philippines on January 11, 1942, with a cargo of railway parts and rubber for the war effort when she was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-166 about 10 miles (19 kms) southwest of the Lombok Straits. US Destroyer USS Paul Jones and a Dutch Destroyer took the damaged ship in tow attempting to reach Singaraja on Bali’s north coast. However, she was taking too much water and so she was beached at Tulamben so that the cargo and fittings could be salvaged.
Liberty Glo was one of 58 Hog islanders that were casualties in World War II.
In 1963, the tremors associated with the eruption of Mount Agung caused the vessel to slip off the beach, and she now lies on a sand slope in 30 to 100 feet of water, providing one of the most popular dives in Bali.
Dive operators commonly misname the wreck “USS Liberty” and it has also been incorrectly referred to a Liberty ship, which were a similar concept of vessel built during World War II.
Although very popular among divers, the shipwreck can also be reached by snorkelers – provided that the sea conditions are calm.
It’s best to go at lowish tide – around 3.00pm – and when it’s sunny as you’ll see more.
Simply walk along the beach at Tulamben to the Balinese temple which is close by the Coral Beach bungalows.
Here you must swim in a perpendicular line from the temple and after about 30 meters you should see the wreck below.
A lot of huge fish gather here, many of which are surprisingly tame and not afraid to come within touching distance of you. So bring along some bread to feed them!