Local LA Dive Sites
A Wreck That Needs More than One Dive
USS Palawan (ARG-10) was a Luzon class internal combustion engine repair ship that saw service in the United States Navy during the final days of World War II, and in the post-war period. It was named for Palawan island in the Philippines.
Palawan, built as MCE hull 2668 by the Bethlehem-Fairfield, MD, was launched 12 August 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Louis Augustine; converted to an internal combustion engine repair ship at Bethlehem’s Key Highway plant, Baltimore; and commissioned 3 May 1945, Comdr. P. Andersen in command.
Photo Contributed by Capt. Jerry Mason, USN
Following shakedown in Chesapeake Bay, Palawan took on ammunition and stores at Norfolk and sailed for Panama 12 June. Transiting the Panama Canal on the 19th, it continued on into the Pacific, arriving at Tacloban, Philippines, 3 August. A unit of ServDiv 101, it repaired small craft, giving priority to minesweepers, in San Pedro Bay until 1 September. On that date it steamed north to join ServDiv 103 and support the ships of Task Force 52 during Western Japan mine sweeping operations. Until 10 March 1946 it repaired ships at Sasebo, then shifted to Shanghai, remaining there until the end of April when it returned to the United States. Arriving at San Diego, CA in June, it underwent inactivation, decommissioned, 15 January 1947, and was berthed there in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Palawan remained at San Diego until transferred to the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, CA, 23 February 1962. The repair ship was sold to the State of California Ship Reef Program on 1 November 1976. In 1977 Palawan was sunk off of Redondo Beach, CA as an artificial reef.
Location: On Torrance Reef about 1.5 miles near Palos Verde shore in the sorthern section of the Santa Monica Bay. Marked on most charts. GPS 33° 49.180'N 118° 24.988'W (GPS for reference only. Do not use as your sole source of navigation).
Access: Boat only. Launch ramp at nearby Marina del Rey for private boats. Charter boats out of Santa Monica, Marina del Ray or Redondo Beach.
Skill Level: Advanced to Tec
Depths: 120+ feet to bottom. Top of wreck starts at about 100 foot.
Visibility: Variable but generally fair to poor averaging 15 feet to over 50 foot on a good day.
Photography: Good for macro and wide angle among the colorful wreckage but visibility often limits wide angle photos. Macro excellent with a multitude of subjects.
Hunting: Great for scallops. Spearfishing fair, mostly for barred sand bass and a few Kelp Bass. Occasional lobster in wreckage.
Hazards: Very limited recreational dive due to depth/bottom time. This is a very large wreck. Know where your descent line is and be vigilant about watching your time and gas. Fishing line and hooks. Wreckage is fragile and may collapse. Penetration is limited and not advised. Use hang tanks and bailout bottles.