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Bairoko Harbour

Bairoko rain - click to enlarge!

Entry to the harbour is dangerous because of unmarked reefs but we sailed into Bairoko Harbour to take advantage of its safe anchorage and interesting diving conditions. "It always rains in Bairoko Harbour". Tiger told us and we soon saw why - It came down in buckets. A river flows into the harbour and the top few feet of water is relatively fresh but underneath is the salt water. This makes for very murky and somewhat spooky diving conditions, but no one complained because the shallow harbour contains the remains of a small freighter with its war scarred and bullet holed mast protruding from the water. Someone told us later that the mangrove fringed harbour was home to crocodiles but we all survived with no alarms.

Bairoko Harbour on the north coast of the island of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands was the site of a Japanese harbour which was highly strategic because of its capacity to resupply Japanese troops on New Georgia and especially nearby Munda; an important airfield which was used as a base for attacks on American forces. Nearby Enoghae Inlet was a strong point commanding the strategically important Kula Gulf and Blackett Straights towards Kolombungara Island. As the allies moved up the Solomons ladder, New Georgia came under intensive attack and was the scene of bitter fighting for several months. Before this, each night, PT boats based in Tulagi and later on nearby Rendova Island would move into these waters to search for prey in the form of Japanese conveys resupplying their forces on Guadalcanal and interestingly it was not far from here that the famous incident involving PT 109 and John F. Kennedy took place.

Wreck in Bairoko harbour - click to enlarge!

Japanese Freighter Bairoko Harbour. The scars of war are clearly visible on this relic. If you think this is impressive, you should see below water where the real damage is to be found in the from of a hole caused by a direct bomb hit which blew out the side of the ship.

Diving in Bairoko harbour

The murky waters of Bairoko Harbour made for "interesting" diving conditions. Most wreck dives in the Solomons resulted in finds of weapons and ordinance. Nearby far more impressive ordinance in the form of a large unexploded bomb lay on the harbour floor. The plentiful unexploded ordinance makes for interesting, if slightly dangerous, exploration of the surrounding rainforest.

Peter Maynard
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