PLTD Apung 1: The Tsunami Ship Memorial

Aug 24, 2023 0 comments

Less than a kilometer from the Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, stands another monument that conveys the true power of nature that was unleashed on 26 December 2004. It’s a large floating diesel generator vessel that was carried far inland by the tsunami and got stranded in the middle of a residential area in the city. Preserved in this location, the ship serves as a lasting monument to the havoc wrought by the tsunami's devastation.

Photo credit: Rizky Adriansyah/Flickr

The tsunami stuck the coast of Aceh, in western Indonesia, about 20 minutes after the earthquake. Banda Aceh, which was the closest major city, was the worst affected. Local eyewitnesses described the tsunami arriving in three large waves. The first wave was gentle, rising only as far as the foundation of the buildings. This was followed by two large “wall of water” which travelled inland destroying everything that stood in its way. The second wave was the largest, and it carried with it several cargo ships and barges, which were then beached near the coast. One of the barges was carried far into the interior.

That ship was PLTD Apung 1, a 2,600-ton power-generating barge that was docked in Banda Aceh’s Ulee Lheue port when the disaster struck. The tsunami lifted the ship and deposited it about 2 to 3 kilometers inland, where it crashed into two house and killed the inhabitants. It is believed that these victims are still under the boat, crushed together with their homes.

After the waters receded this vessel became one of the symbols of the disaster and an early visitor attraction. People came to see this unlikely sight to get a feeling of the enormous powers at work during the tsunami. Instead of scrapping the vessel and taking it away piece by piece, it was decided to leave it in its stranded location.

In 2012, the site was developed into a tsunami theme park with a memorial, an attractive ground, and ramps running along tsunami-damaged houses. You can climb up the ship, all the way to the top from which you can have a great view of the city.

Photo credit: Rizky Adriansyah/Flickr

Photo credit: Rizky Adriansyah/Flickr

Photo credit: Rizky Adriansyah/Flickr

Just a short distance away, are a couple of more boats, but smaller, which were also carried by the floods and deposited inland. This includes a wooden fisherman’s boat that is still lodged on top of a roof. The so-called “boat in the roof” turned out to be a blessing for the people of the area as none of them could swim. 59 people took refugee in the boat as the sea water ravaged all around them. Today, the boat is revered as a sort of Noah's ark.

Photo credit: AusAID/Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Picturejourneys/Flickr


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