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Buka Wreck Report
by Josh McDade November 7, 1999

Buka Airport
The Buka Airport is operational and often used. It runs NE to SW and is approximately 1.6 kilometers long. At the front entrance is what appears to be a antiaircraft gun. Locals tell us that supposedly two aircraft were dup up at some time parralel from the northern sides of the runway. Couldn't get more information on when or where the aircraft are now. There are definitely large excavated old craters within a hundred meters of the runway. (No photos).

G4M Betty
On maps is listed a Betty at the Buka airfield. It is supposed to be approximately 200 meters from the SW end in a linear line with the runway from the SNW corner. A number of PMG members have made attempts to search this area which is highly overgrown with no luck. The overgrowth is thick and commonly up to six meters high. Viewing from overhead helicopter flights have not been helpful.

Japanese Aircraft Wreck Underwater
Last month in Buka I looked for the F1M2 mentioned in the Buka passage. There is a plane upside down under water in the Buka passage. It is in about two meters of water and can be easily dived down to. Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to snorkel in the area. A number of PMG members have and say that it is not possible to see under the craft. (i.e. the top of the plane) It is too far to swim from Buka town and a boat is needed. It can be seen distinctly from overhead in a helicpoter because the waters are quite clear in these tropical areas. It is at the western end of Buka Point. This is the east side of the entrance of Ramun Bay which is between Sahano, Minan and Buka Islands. I couldn't find it marked on any maps. Map indication that I give is 9886 4 KUANA NW 838 980.

I found a wreck marked on a map. 9886 1 KUNUA NE 56MPU 92 92 This is Matchin Bay, the NW side of Bougainville slightly south of Buka Island. It can be seen from over head by helicopter. It is on an angle with the bow out of the water. Locals say this was a troopship during WWII that was grounded. Before that it was said to be a cargo ship. I did not get a chance to snorkel this wreck. Other PMG members have snorkled this wreck.

Unknown Barge
Another wreck I was informed of that PMG members have visited is said to be a barge during WWII. It is not on any map I could find. It is said to be half out of the water also in Matchin Bay. It is said to be between the Bougainville Island coast, Salsan, Gatus and Sahene Island. These islands are a chain that runs parallel to the NW coast of Bougainville near Tsirog mission and Telena.

Aircraft Carrier
More than one PMG member has talked to more than one local and been given the story of an aircraft carrier sinking with planes still on it. The similarity of directions gives some foundation to this story as they all give the same direction in the NW area of Bougainville. Drawing a straight line from the tip of Soraken Peninsula through Saposa Island and into the Soloman Sea. The distance is not clear and cannot be relied apon. The depth of the sea here cannot make this wreck easy to find or accessible. It is definitely not seen by air from my personal experience and numerous helicopter flights around this area.

That completes my report of Buka Island and my findings there. I must say that the more detail given by wreck enthusiasts will allow others also to find them quicker, especially any map references. The modern technology, cheapness of technology and availability of a fantastic tool for locating sites. Little to no information makes strangers in a strange land rely on the local population who may have moved on or not be supportive of visitors.

Little or no details given by previous visitors makes new ones attempt to revert to history which doesn't reflect the current population and even the ground at times. The jungle continues to grow and many circumstances can change the ground including buildings, industry, civil war, water courses, volcanoes, mining, land reclamation etc.

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