Sebastián de Belalcazar

Built-in 1943 by the United States, the early days of ARC Sebastián de Belalcazar started as a battleship during the Second World War and served the Far East where she won 2 medals of war. After the war, she was sold to the Colombian Navy in the 1970s. One of her remarkable accomplishments as a Colombian Naval Ship was when she raided and sank the MV Karina in 1981. The Karina was a supply vessel loaded with smuggled supplies intended for the M-19 Guerilla Group and the Colombian Rebel Movement.
Although the ARC Sebastián de Belalcazar was lucky to survive the Pearl Harbor attack as she was on the perimeter at that time when the Japanese took a surprise invasion, her naval prowess ended when the Colombian Navy decided to put her to rest. On 02 September 2004, she intentionally sank to become an artificial reef. The Sebastián de Belalcazar is now peacefully resting in Huina in Bahia Solana.

Exploring the remains

ARC Sebastián de Belalcazar

Bahía Solano has a decent list of wrecks that can be explored and one of the most popular is the 63 meters (207 feet) long US Built warship.

From serving the military, the ARC Sebastián de Belalcazar is now an underwater attraction where her once naval prowess is now a refuge to marine life.

Heading west offshore from the mainland, exploring the remains of ARC Sebastián de Belalcazar starts with a 35-minute boat ride from the shores of Bahia Solano. Once you arrive at the site, you will start diving by following a descending line that leads to the wreck. As you go deeper, you will start to see the silhouette of the shipwreck that is tailed 10 degrees to the starboard side position. The upper deck can be found at 26 meters (85 feet) while the port side is at 30 meters (100 feet), and the starboard side at 33 meters (108 feet), while the hull is resting on the sandy floor at 40 meters (131 feet).

While you can see the steel material of the shipwreck, it is partly covered with algae. There are 2 highlights when exploring the ARC Sebastián de Belalcazar. First, you can do penetration and there are three ways to penetrate the Sebastian. First, you can go through the propeller. Second, you can penetrate the crew cabin (just below the Captain’s Cabin) where you can enter on one side and exit on the other side. And lastly, a more challenging penetration would take you to the bow where you can enter a compartment opening that leads to the lower deck and find the engine room, cabin rooms, and an onboard prison that once hold a famous personality.

The second highlight is the diversity of fish that has attracted to its gigantic structure. Here you can swim along with jacks, snappers, batfish, and groupers that have considered Sebastian their new home. 

Here’s the thing: do not panic if you hear strange sounds while you are on or near the shipwreck and please do not assume that those are ghostly sounds. Actually, when you hear strange sounds underwater, it means that it is you are lucky day as the sounds are coming from gentle oceanic giants doing their annual migration run – the humpback whales.

Gallery

Video

Dive Information

Shallower Depth

26 meters (85 feet)

Maximum Depth

40 meters (131 feet)

Temperature

21c to 29c (67f to 86f)

Visibility

10m to 15m (33ft to 50ft)

Certification Level

Advanced Open Water (required)

Recommend Equipment

Reel, Dive knife, Flash Light

Yes, we know you are excited to explore the historical Sebastián de Belalcazar shipwreck and take a glimpse of how marine life has overgrown this once mighty naval ship. Take note that the minimum certification in exploring the Sebastián de Belalcazar is Advanced Open Water Diver. The Sebastian is also one of the options that you can choose in our fun dive tour package.

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