USAT Liberty is a United States Army Transport ship. In 1942, when the ship was part of the United States Navy’s animal transport, under the ID USS Liberty, it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on its way from Australia to Philippines. The ship was then towed and beached to the eastern coast of Bali at Tulamben. After 20 years, at the time of the eruption of Mount Agung, tremors caused the ship to slip into water at a depth of till 30 m. The shipwreck now provides for one of the best diving sites in the world.
The ship lies on a black sand slope, has a 16m beam and is 120 m long. Huge corals and sponges can be seen around. The water current is not that rough, but very low in fact, and it is clear providing a visibility of even 30 meters at times, making this one of the safest diving experiences in the world. This is one of the very few diving spots where both, beginners and professional divers, can get a good diving experience.
An artificial reef created around the spot offers the chance to see a wide variety of marine species. Bumphead parrotfish, Big Potato groupers, Frogfish, Seahorses and Big Eyed Jackfish are often seen here. Schools of Batfish, Unicornfish and the Napoleon Wrasse are also regularly spotted. If you are lucky you may also get to the see the King Barracuda. Sharks and Mola-mola are also seen at times. You are allowed to dive at night and you can see a lot of flash light fish which provides an amazing sight.
The USS Liberty diving spot offers a good place for underwater photography apart from scuba diving and open diving. Snorkelling can also be done, as the water is shallow in some places. Make sure that you carry your underwater camera or arrange for one during your dive. You can move through the internal structure of the wreck, but you will not find anything worth taking back as a souvenir. This is because most of the valuable items were taken from the ship by the people around when it was on the shore before 1963.
One can find a lot of dive operators, operating out of Bali. Some of them also offer free diving courses and PADI certified courses. Tulamben also has a few dive operators, but the numbers are very less compared to Bali. The Liberty wreck dive can be very crowded at times and so you can stay at Tulamben or Amed and move to the diving spot very early, at least before 8 a.m to avoid crowds.
The nearest international Airport is the one in Bali, the Ngurah Rai International Airport. There are frequent flights from Australia and South East Asia to the Ngurah Rai Airport. You can also connect to Jakarta and then book a domestic flight from Jakarta. Regular Taxi services are available between the Airport and Amed or Tulamben which is most likely to be your place of stay. The right period for visit is July to October.