KOTA KINABALU: A warship that has been in service for the past 52 years with the navy and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has been sunk and is now the state’s first shipwreck dive site.
The 31.4m long, seven metre-wide vessel – KM Kuraman, was sunken at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine park here on Thursday and is expected to be open for wreck dives six months from now.
Sabah and Labuan MMEA director first admiral Mohd Zubil Mat Som said the sinking of the ship symbolised the official end of its service. It was a bittersweet moment for him.
“This vessel had been used for many operations and it has its own historical value and stories.
“However, we are able to let its legacy live on by letting it become a dive site as well as house marine lives in future,” he said.
The ship sank after it was punctured on both sides of the stern. All of its windows and doors were opened to make it easy for the ship to sink.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, in thanking the MMEA for their gift for tourism purposes, said creating the shipwreck dive site would not only lure more visitors but also allow marine lives to thrive.
“This vessel has the potential of allowing for the growth of coral reefs and attracting various marine species,” he said.
He said the marine park, comprising among others the Manukan, Mamutik and Gaya islands, currently house some 131 species of coral reefs, 482 types of fish, three species of sea turtles and 11 varieties of seaweed.
“We have also recorded the presence of migratory marine animals such as whale sharks and dolphins,” he said.
Masidi hoped that the sunken ship would eventually result in a bigger marine biodiversity at the park.
He said the gift from the MMEA was also a mark of better collaboration with the security agency, in future.