Kled Gaeow (Keaow) Wreck: A new and exciting addition to the Phi Phi dive sites
Launched originally as the RNoMS Norfest (Norway) in 1948, this vessel was purchased and commissioned into the Royal Thai Navy in 1956 and renamed the RTN Kled Gaeow(Kaeow). The Kled Gaeow functioned as an auxiliary vessel, a transport support and stores ship designation AKS 861.
– Dimensions: 47.2m x 7.7m x 13m
– Weight: 382 tonnes standard, or 450tonnes fully loaded
Wreck Dive Site
Decommissioned in 2014, the ship was donated and purposely sunk via controlled explosion to create a new dive site on 19 March 2014. The 47 metre long wreck sits almost upright (20 degree list) facing north to south (bow-stern), some 800-1000m to the east of Piley Bay (Ko Phi Phi Ley).
The top of the tower is around 14-16 meters deep (depending upon the tide), the main deck sits at 20 meters and the bottom is around 26 metres. Penetration is possible through a number of entries for divers with excellent buoyancy.
Starting at the bow of the boat is a raised deck accessed via external stairs leading up from the main deck. On the main deck next to the stairs are 2 doors into a large cooler room, or a further entrance into the compartment which used to house the anchor and chains. This compartment can alternatively be accessed through the roof hatch opening/porthole on the raised deck.
Across the Main Deck towards the central section lays the mast (13.5 metres long), which was snapped so as not to present an obstacle for any boats overhead. There is a large 3m long hatch on the deck where you can look down to the deck/hull below and penetrate here if wanted. Be aware that once you have entered this opening penetration towards to the central area is dark, via a guide rope and suffers low visibility.
The Central section itself consists of the wheelhouse (the front of the wheelhouse has been removed to allow easy access for divers to swim through), and culminates in a platform above this furnished with antennae (presumably communications) and a tall oblong tower. A line is attached from the tower to just below the surface to assist with safety stops.
Towards the stern are some circular raised viewing platforms and portholes to explore. If you wish to see the ship’s name in Thai then the large plaque is located on the outside of the ship at the very back.
Already this site is attracting a lot of marine life. Tubular anemones are already growing, large schools of juvenile barracuda, fusilliers and glassfish surround the tower and staircases. Scorpionfish, lionfish and even a turtle have already been sighted, along with cuttlefish and squid eggs.
With the majority of the dive site sitting deeper than 20 metres dive time here is dictated primarily by our No Decompression Limits. If you are planning to penetrate the wreck then we would highly recommend you use Nitrox to maximise your dive times, NDL’s and experience. (The PADI Enriched Air (Nitrox) Specialty Course can be completed in just one day as an add-on to your fun dives).
It is also due to these depths that we require divers to be certified as, or in the process of gaining their advanced certification, or willing to take the Deep Adventure Dive to access this dive site. A number of the adventure dives you could choose for advanced certification can be completed on this site including wreck, deep, nitrox, fish ID and Computer/Multi-Level.
Photography Hints –
Wrecks are not the easiest of objects to capture without some serious wide-angle equipment. However here are a few handy hints:
– Don’t try to use your strobe/flash – visibility is less at the Phi Phi sites than the Lanta ones, and the suspended particles cause obvious backscatter, and blown out highlights.
– If you are using full manual settings then set your apperture very wide open, shutter speed slow to allow maximum light penetration.
– Try using Custom White Balance.
– Wreck photos look great converted to black and white, providing an eerie atmosphere.
– Try to capture a diver on the wreck to provide some sense of scale and context.