The Xing Da
Sunk in Bermuda Waters on May 15, 1997
This 221 feet long modern-day pirate ship, the Xing Da was carrying Chinese immigrants to be smuggled into the United States. There were 83 Chinese nationals on board, some as young as 14 and none older than mid-30s.
On October 6 1996, crewed by suspected members of the Chinese mafia known as the Triad, it had arranged to meet a smaller ship 145 miles off Bermuda for the immigrants to be transferred and taken into the United States. Immigrants had paid $20,000 to $40,000 each to the Triad's smuggling ring to escape their homeland. Translated, Xing Da means 'lucky ride'. However, for this Canton registered freighter, luck was running out quickly. Instead, what they found was the U.S. Coast Guard and a regiment of the U.S. Marines. U.S Immigration and Naturalization(INS) as well as the Coast Guard knew about the Xing Da's activities even before she left port in China in June 1996.
Smuggling was nothing new to the Xing Da. Going back as far as the Vietnam War, she smuggled everything from contraband to weapons for the North Vietnamese Army. The Xing Da was the 11th Chinese vessel to be intercepted with this form of cargo in course of five years.
Following its seizure by the Coast Guard and INS, authorities found evidence that the Xing Da was being planned to be sunk into sea shortly. Whether this was to be with or without its passengers on board was unknown. Even if they had made it to America, these immigrants would most likely have ended up as indentured laborers in Chinese Mafia owned sweatshops. Towed into Bermuda while still under guard on October 8, 1996, the Xing Da's passengers were off-loaded and transferred to the U.S Marine base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for extradition back to their homeland.
Those involved in the smuggling operation were arrested. After being towed into Bermuda, broken down beyond repair and destined for a water grave, the Bermudian Government negotiated for possession of this ship. On May 15, 1997, The Xing Da was towed past the seaward edge of Bermuda's northwest facing barrier reef and sent to the bottom where she was successfully placed on the ocean bed below 104 feet of water.
Other than the removal of trash, fuel, waste and all her bulkhead doors, the Xing Da was left fully intact with all superstructure, deck machinery and booms as they were when she was captured. Xing Da, one of Bermuda's famous shipwrecks, framed against the clear blue waters of the mid-Atlantic that average 100 feet of visibility year-round, is a majestic sight. From the reef and sand bottom to the top of her wheelhouse is more than 60 feet. Even from her bow deck, resting at a depth of 71 feet, her forward mast towers high coming within 30 feet of the surface.
Owing to her location outside the reef on the northwest side of the island, the best time to dive this wreck under favorable weather conditions is during the summer season, when the winds come from a more desirable direction.
A school of large ocean Barracuda are often seen here. As well as a resident school of huge Grey Snapper, which hang out in the shade of the bow. This is also an area where you can see black fin Groupers (or Rock Fish as they are known locally). One can often see hundreds of Blue Chromis above the wreck, as well as many different plankton and jellyfish in the water column. The corals that surround the ship are all in excellent condition.
Update: Unfortunately the wreck of Xingda has now been scattered into many pieces as a result of hurricane effect. Read the section below on 'Reviews and Comments' for more info.
Check shipwreck map
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Reviews and Comments
Joshua Stephens (June 2016)
Structures of the ship wreck have now fully disintegrated after a barrage of storms in 2014, Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo, and in 2015 with Joaquin. Most of the wreckage lies below the reef line in the sand, as the wheel house has collapsed and the mast coming up to 85 ft of water. I work at Blue Water Divers and have been there three times in the last two years, once being yesterday, so I thought I might as well give you some updated information.