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Latest News

June 2013

SS PRESIDENT COOLIDGE 70 YEAR COMMEMORATION
Posted: Wednesday 19 June, 2013

On 26 October 2012, divers and visitors joined together to mark 70 years since the loss of SS President Coolidge.

The loss of the Coolidge was a time in wartime history that would forever change the isolated and remote island of Espiritu Santo, part of the chain of islands that comprise Vanuatu. With the bombing of Pearl Harbour in December 1941, America found herself engaged in WWII and entwined with fighting in the Pacific region. America desperately needed to establish a safe stronghold for the push into the Solomon Islands and further north and it was decided Santo would be suitable for a major weapons and manpower base.

Governed jointly by the French and the British, the island had become a centre for copra production and little else. Most parts of the island had never seen white occupation and the rugged, mountainous interior was little explored. There were a few trading outposts and Government offices with villages throughout the island having a virtually unbroken custom life that had predominated for hundreds of years.

On that fateful day, 26 October 1942, the SS President Coolidge made her way carefully to the designated rendezvous point. On board were over 5000 Army personnel, huge quantities of medical supplies, field weapons and motor vehicles. Dawn broke clear across the turquoise waters of Segond Channel and there must have been a collective sense of relief among the troop having reached their destination. At the very moment the President Coolidge entered the mouth of the channel, she struck a friendly mine which had been laid earlier in the year to thwart entry by midget submarines. Her fate was sealed and within 90 minutes of being run aground she was laying on the sea bed with all but two of her crew having safely abandoned ship.

It was not until the 1970s after the salvors had moved on, was the ship regarded as accessible for recreational divers. Allan Power had stayed on after the salvage work and saw possibilities for divers to safely explore the ship and tourism on Santo was born.

Since that time, thousands have explored the ship, with many divers returning time and time again to further explore and push their diving skills to the next level. With three main dive operators today, divers are well catered for as well as several excellent dive focussed resorts to suit any budget.


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ALLAN POWER
DIVE TOURS

PO Box 233, Santo
Vanuatu
Tel/Fax: +678 36822
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