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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay : MV Katsu Maru
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Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/MV Katsu Maru

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[[Image:Katsu Maru sketch.png|400px|thumb|Sketch of how the wreck lies on the bottom.]]
[[Image:Katsu Maru sketch.png|400px|thumb|Sketch of how the wreck lies on the bottom.]]
[[Image:Aster and Katsu Maru.png|thumb|Map dhowing the position and features of the wrecks of the Aster (Right) and Katsu Maru (Left)]]
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Revision as of 12:29, 5 December 2010

The dive site M.V. Katsu Maru is a recent wreck in the Hout Bay area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Sketch of how the wreck lies on the bottom.
Map dhowing the position and features of the wrecks of the Aster (Right) and Katsu Maru (Left)


S34°03.903’ E018°20.949’ (roughly)

In the middle of the mouth of Hout Bay, About parallel to and 20m to the West of the wreck of the M.V. Aster

This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004). A permit is required.


The Japanese trawler "Katsu Maru #25" struck an unidentified object and was holed on the port side. While under tow to Hout Bay the vessel flooded and it sank in the bay on 7th August 1978.


Maximum depth about 28m meters in the scour at the bow and stern. The highest point of the wreck is at about 21.3m.


Visibility will vary from pretty murky at about 2m to really good at over 20m. Good visibility is more likely after a strong south easterly wind, which may cause a local upwelling of clear bottom water from the open ocean nearby. The good visibility usually only lasts a few days, after which plankton bloom may reduce it again, particularly towards the surface.


The hull is about 40m long, and roughly 9 or 10m beam, part of which is buried in the sand. The wreck lies on its starboard side heeled at slightly more than 90°, imbedded in the flat sand bottom at about 27m. The bow points towards approximately magnetic southwest. There is moderate scouring at bow and stern, usually to about 29m maximum, depending on the tide. The superstructure deck appears to be buried almost to halway, and the funnel is only just above the surface. . The hull is basically intact with a few holes rusted through, and still looks much like when it was afloat, but will probably deteriorate quite rapidly as the plating is getting very thin in places, and holes are appearing in the bottom and sides. The starboard side of the stern has wasted to about level with the flat surface of the sand, so if you go sown the scour you will end up under or inside the hull. The stern deck areas are a bit cluttered with debris. There is an external bar keel about 150mm deep along the length of the hull. The wreck of the MFV Aster lies to the north east of the Katsu Maru, at an estimated distance of about 15m.

Geology: Flat sand bottom.


The site is exposed to south westerly swells, which can cause a strong surge. The site is usually at it's best in summer but there are also occasional opportunities in autumn and winter.

This is an area which sometimes has upwellings, caused by strong south easterly winds, resulting in cold clear water, which may develop a plankton bloom over a few days, which will reduce the visibility again.

Keep a lookout for times when the south west swell is low and short period, and there is not too much south easterly wind forecast.

Get in

Access is only reasonably practicable by boat. The site is about a 2.2km ride from the [[Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Hout Bay harbour|harbour slipway. The wreck is in the harbour approaches, and there may be significant boat traffic.


Feather stars and sunburst soft coral
Brown tubular sponge
Unusual white cup corals
Palmate sea fan
Small sponges
Strawberry anemones
Sunburst soft coral
Yellow soft corals on a sea squirt
Yellow sponges

Marine life

The wreck is heavily encrusted with common feather stars and sponges, with an exceptional display of Sunburst soft corals and some colonial ascidians and hydroids, and conger eels have been reported from the interior.

Encrusting invertebrates on the wreck include a yellow soft coral, white colonial ascidian, white tubular sponges, Multicolour sea fans, an orange encrusting sponge, beige fan sponges, Palmate sea fans, white nippled sea fans, brown encrusting sponge, Pustular tritons, orange feather duster worms, ribbed mussels, salmon pink encrusting sponge, arborescent bryozoans, stripe-mouthed squirts, brown trumpet sponges, Strawberry anemones, Striped anemone and Purple soft coral.

There are also 3-spot swimming crabs in sand and some large West coast rock lobster on the wreck.

Gas cylinders at the aft end of the superstructure
The midships port side of the superstructure
Engine room skylight forward of the funnel
Foredeck of the Katsu Maru
Wheelhouse side and front


Recent wreck in fairly intact condition. The hull is said to provide challenging penetrations. The foredeck still has a large winch, and there appear to be gas cylinders on a rack.


Macro and/or wide angle equipment recommended.


No special route recommended. The deck has more interesting details than the bottom.

Stay safe


Cold water, occasional fog, boat traffic. Possible entrapment if the wreck is penetrated. Some of the structure may be unstable. Strong surge if the swell is large or the period long.


No special skills required unless penetration is intended. It is necessary to be qualified for 30m dives.


A light will restore colour and allow you to look into the wreck. Reel and DSMB are worth carrying in case it is necessary to surface away from the shotline. A dry-suit is recommended as the water is cold, Nitrox is recommended to extend no-decompression time.

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