Evolution’s Exploration Unit locates a wreck thought to be the MV Pioneer Cebu, last seen in 1966

In August 2012 Evolution’s Exploration Unit took on one of its most ambitious projects – to locate and be the first to dive a wreck thought to be the lost MV Pioneer Cebu.  The MV Pioneer Cebu was a cargo and passenger vessel that was lost ‘somewhere’ near Malapascua in Typhoon Klaring on May 16th, 1966.  Reports at the time said that around 262 passengers were on board although the shipping company admitted there could have been

more.  If there were any survivors is not clear.

MV Pioneer Cebu Evolution Divers

For decades local folklore around Malapascua suggested a location for the ship north east of the island.  In August 2012 Evolution owners, David Joyce and Matt Reed, along with team member Jakob Hinrichsen, set about finding and diving the wreck for the first time, a project conceived 18 months previously.

Evolution 5 star TDI Instructor trainer facility has been conducting 100m+ dives around Malapscua for over 2 years and between Matt, a TDI advanced trimix instructor trainer, David a TDI advanced nitrox and deco pro instructor, and their customers there have been almost thirty 100 to 130m dives using both Open and Closed Circuit safely and successfully completed in the area.  However this was to be one of the most challenging yet due to the blue water, reference-free ascent and descent.

The team spent several days preparing, conducting increasingly deeper dives over the preceding days.  Easy warm ups included 55m dives on the Mogami Maru and The Trench, a new deep site discovered by Evolution in 2010.  These were quickly followed by 70 metres at Manta Point and 85 metres at Bannerfish Point on Monad Shoal.

The team used a mix of of Open and Closed Circuit with Matt opting for the latter using his Pelagian.

On August 7th the team set off to the location and using a guide line made the 100+ metre descent into the murky depths.  Each Open Circuit diver carried a blend of 8/70 Trimix in double tanks, a travel gas of 16/47 in an 11 litre stage, a 5.5 litre of 50{3c584785206271acba0b48c760be4725f0625fa591b4a52f771ab721d5a102df} and another of pure Oxygen.  A total of 8,800 litres of breathable gas.  Matt opted to carry 3l of 8/70 Diluent, and 3l of Oxygen onboard his CCR, and two 12/60 11 bailout tanks, as well as 5.5l of oxygen. This gave him the ability to “bail-in” to the rebreather or go open circuit himself or even share with the team.  Support divers Anna Cu Unjieng and Shelagh Cooley were on standby with extra 50 and 100{3c584785206271acba0b48c760be4725f0625fa591b4a52f771ab721d5a102df} if required.

The team descended over 3.5 minutes to 100m and were awestruck to see a large wreck looming from the inky blackness exactly where predicted.  At depth Matt filmed using a GoPro Hero which is rated to 60m only.  It did its best for about 90 seconds before jamming itself off.  The team spent 8.5 more minutes surveying the wreck and the holds were clearly visible with lifting machinery toppled at the sides.  The remains of the superstructure were completely fragmented but Matt spotted a familiar shape – the ships compass binnacle still intact.

Once bottom time was complete the team had a 2 hour journey back to the surface. Having all completed 100+ metres dives together before the ascent was long but uneventful and while the support divers provided a welcome distraction the team were able to complete the dive self contained.

The following day, August 8th the team went back for another look at the wreck and enjoyed an incredible second chance to survey it. While we cannot say with full certainty that this is the MV Pioneer Cebu, it fits many of the descriptions. Further exploration may finally reveal that secret once and for all.

Evolution would like to dedicate this discovery to the relatives of the lost passengers and crew of the MV Pioneer Cebu.

To explore with Evolution contact info@evolution.com.ph

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