The ‘Coral Reef Squadron’ arrives
In Phuket a new artificial reef, made up by defunct airplanes from the Vietnam and Korea wars, is about to be opened up. There seems to some controversy amongst Phuket’s dive operators about the location of the artificial reef, see this discussion on ScubaBoard.
For me, sitting on Koh Samui, I wish Samui or Koh Tao would get some artificial reef like in Pattaya with the HTMS Khram and the HTMS Koot and now in Phuket.
Please read the following article as it appeared in the Phuket Gazette today;
JUST PASSING THROUGH: One of the 15 flatbed trucks transporting the ‘Coral Reef Squadron’ passes through the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint on Sunday.
MAI KHAO: Amidst great fanfare, a convoy of 15 flatbed trucks loaded with the remains of 10 decommissioned military aircraft arrived at the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint at 2 pm on Sunday after a three-day overland journey that began in Lopburi.
On May 5, the aircraft skeletons are to be dropped into the sea about a kilometer off Bang Tao Beach to create an artificial reef in the hope that it will attract marine life and become a popular new dive site.
The aging aircraft, which have been dubbed the “Coral Reef Squadron”, are US-built and served in the Vietnam and Korean Wars, during which Thailand was used as a strategic base for operations during its Cold War fight against communism.
There to meet the convoy Tah
checkpoint were Phuket
Vice-Governor Worapoj Ratthasima
, Tourism Authority of Thailand South Region 4 Office Director Suwalai Pinpradub
, and representatives of the various groups and agencies that are working together on the project: The Royal Thai Air Force
, the Phuket
provincial government, the Thalang
District Office, the For Sea Foundation, the Thai Dive Association (TDA
), the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, and the Cherng Talay Tambon
Administration Organization, which provided 4 million baht for the project.
Once safely past the checkpoint, the convoy continued on to the Phuket Deep Sea Port at Ao Makham, where the aircraft will be cleaned, reassembled and otherwise prepared for their new role, which has been described as providing “apartments for fish”.
At a depth of about 15 to 20 meters, the aircraft will be arranged in a concentric pattern with two helicopters in the middle. These will be surrounded by an alternating circle of airplane and helicopter fuselages.
The wings of the aircraft were clipped at about mid-length and the rotors removed from the helicopters. All dangerous and/or toxic components of the mostly-aluminum remains were removed at the air base before being transported.
The entire arrangement, to cover about 2,500 square meters, will sit near an abandoned offshore tin-mining sledge.
member Jens Hofacker
of Aqua Divers in Nai Thon
Beach told the Gazette that the sinking operation will be conducted with the help of both the Royal Thai Navy
and National Parks Department.
The plan is to fix the aircraft to the seabed using huge concrete blocks. Upon completion, the entire site will be surrounded with a circular barrier of concrete blocks to prevent any migration of the structures across the sea floor, he said.
says that upon completion the project it is expected to attract about 200 divers daily and generate 140 million baht in income per year.