This wreck is an absolutely fabulous dive. Scuba diving the Chikuzen is one of the highlights of this writer’s diving career.You will see fish and quantities of fish that you will not see elsewhere. The Chikuzen is in 75-80 feet of water in the middle of nowhere but sand flats. As soon as she sank back in 1981 it was attracting schools of fish. The official name of the ship is M.S. Chikuzen Maru and she was built in Japan in 1960. Back before the days of GPS one would need to keep a narrow gap between the eastern tip of Scrub Island and the western end of Ginger Islands. When you were over the wreck you would have a gap in the middle of your index finger. 🙂
History of the Chikuzen Wreck Anegada BVIThe boat is 246 feet long and was originally built in Shimizu Japan. The Chikuzen had been operated as a longliner in the Korean fishing fleet. She spent the last couple years of her life tied up to a dock in St Maarten being used as a cold storage facility. The story has it that in September of 1981, a storm was threatening St Maarten and the harbormaster ordered it moved, as they were concerned that it would damage the docks more than what it already had been doing. The owner took it out to sea, opened all the seacocks and tried to sink it. It did not sink. It was then set on fire to sink it. Still, no sinking. The Chikuzen was then abandoned to drift out to sea. She drifted the 70 miles to the BVI trailing plumes of smoke behind it and threatened to put up on Marina Cay to quite a bit of local concern. A St Croix ocean tug eventually took it under tow until the tow rope snapped and shattered a crewmember’s legs. It was abandoned again and sank close where it now lays. It lies on her port side. The starboard rail comes up to about 45 feet from the surface.
Tell me what I will see on the Chikuzen WreckIt is a majestic sight with its railings, winches and two massive masts that are sticking out almost parallel to the seafloor. Up until the hurricanes of 2017, there were several large refrigerated holds that held lots of fish and were wide open. They collapsed in Hurricane Irma. If you look carefully there are a couple of plaques on various pieces of equipment in Japanese or Korean. I don’t know the difference!
“The Chikuzen is located well offshore (7 1/2 miles NW of Tortola) in what is basically a desert of sand. Because of the barren surroundings, the Chikuzen attracts a huge quantity and variety of fish. The wreck is in about 75 feet of water and has no protection from sea conditions. Because of this, coupled with its distance from Tortola, The Chikuzen rarely sees divers.”
Fish Life on the wreck of the ChikuzenLarge schools of fish sit everywhere in and on the Chikuzen. The first thing you notice as you are going down to the wreck are the literally, hundreds, if not thousands of barracuda that are hanging in mid-air. You need to dive this wreck several times, as you are so busy looking at the fish, you can forget to see the wreck. There is a large grouper, I am talking hundreds of pounds that lives on the wreck. Usually, only the first person gets a glimpse of him and he is gone. You can often find Cobia hanging out by the stern. LARGE southern stingrays are in the sand. You can go right up to these beautiful rays by making sure they see you and moving up closely on their side. Patience is rewarded for some when they allow you to stroke underneath their wing. The wreck is also on the path of the migratory whales! Some of the fish you can find on-site include Horse eyed jack, Almaco jack, Lookdowns, Pompano, King mackerel, Saucer eye porgy, Chubb (all huddled underneath the bow of the boat) and Atlantic Spadefish. Some of these fish I have not spotted together anywhere else.
Location of the Chikuzen Wreck Anegada BVI
GPS Position. N18’37.143 W064’30.969This site can ONLY be dived when the seas are completely calm. There is a National Parks mooring ball on the site, usually with its tag line in horrible shape. At the bottom of the mooring, there will be a chain across the bottom running to the wreck. When the seas are flat calm, this is an interesting snorkel as well to watch the tons of barracuda in the water column. Typically there is very little current at the surface but do put out a trailing line at the back of your yacht to hang off of. So…What are you waiting for? An entire week can be built around yacht charters and SCUBA diving easily. If you can find a copy of George and Luana Marlers Book: Burning Freighter, The story of the M.S. Chikuzen Maru (printed in 2006 and only found lately in paperback occasionally) the story and pictures are good.
Find out more about SCUBA diving in the British Virgin Islands Check out the wreck of the Rhone in the British Virgin Islands Take a look at other spots you can check out in Anegada