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Kuma class light cruiser
5,100 Tons (standard)
152.4m x 14.2m x 4.8m
7 x 140mm guns
2 x 80mm guns
8 x torpedo tubs
48 x mines
1 x floatplane
8/9 April 1942:
9-10 April 1942:
At 9:13am, Tally-ho was in an attack position and fired a spread of seven torpedoes at her unsuspecting quarry. After what seemed an eternity for the submarines crew, two enormous explosions were finally heard “…in rapid succession like violent reverberating metallic hammer blows.” Mortally wounded Kuma sank by the stern, with the loss of 138 lives, while Tally-ho escaped.
At the time of the sonar discovery, only a skeleton crew was on board at the time as it was just prior to a regular wreck diving charter that was scheduled for the following week, and Empress had been intent on finding some new wrecks beforehand to add to the upcoming itinerary.
On March 13, 2004 during perfect surface conditions, but relatively poor visibility, a group of divers off MV Empress including Vidar Skoglie, Phil Yeutter and Kevin Denlay dove the new wreck site. However, it wasn’t until the second dive that day that the wreck was positively identified as Kuma, her port waist 5.5” gun abaft the bridge and the location of her forward torpedoes tubes just behind it that, without doubt, confirmed the wrecks identity.
Several more dives were done on Kuma during Kevin’s charter the following week and the wreck further explored. She lies on her starboard side, in 46m/151ft of water approximately sixteen nautical miles west of the island of Penang, Malaysia, missing about twenty or so meters of her stern, the wreck apparently ending abruptly in line with her port outboard propeller. Interestingly, she is over ten nautical miles from the sinking position given by Tally-Ho and almost sixty-three nautical miles from the position given for Kuma after the war by JANAC (Joint Army Navy Assessment Committee).
Along with Kuma, Empress found several new wreck sites on the exploratory expedition including Haguro and modern cruise liner Sun Vista that are also in the same vicinity make for some very exciting diving.
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