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Diving the wrecks of the Rio De Janiero and Sankisan Maru

IMG_0634-e1466583927574Truk Lagoon Tour 2016

Another day in the life of the “Trukies”
And today brought us sunshine!! Possibly too much sunshine with some of our crew now resembling the lobsters we all ate last night after s day of awesome diving. Today we dived the Rio DeJaniero and the Sankisan Maru. The Rio is a large ex passenger vessel which was used in the war for ferrying troups to the battle zones. Sitting on the port side – the Rio makes for a very cool dive! The propellers on this wreck are possibly the most photographed props in Truk spanning some 5 body lengths from one end of the prop to the other. Other features of this wreck are the long passageways, huge bombs which she was carrying to stock up the Japanese supplies and plenty of Saki bottles. Literally thousands of wooden crates full of them. Still sealed in many cases, it makes you wonder if the Japanese could have won the war in Truk with the amount of booze they had on hand!

We decided to take our lunch break on Eten Island which is the island the Japanese cut into the shape of an aircraft carrier so the very high up US bombers would drop their heavy bombs onto the island believing they were trying to sink an aircraft carrier. Not being able to sink an island (but trying anyway)  gave the Japanese a bit of time to move land installations and supplies away from targeted ares.

When the bombers left, the Japanese would simply fill the craters in with bulldozers and put some planes back on the “deck”. Ready for the next round.

We free dived onto a Japanese Zero which was sitting upside down right next to the island. After lunch we went to the Sankisan Maru. This wreck is decimated at the bow but fully intact throughout the rest of the ship. Carrying a massive amount of ammunition, it’s easy to see that one of the US planes hit its target right in the ammunition storage hold. The result is catastrophic and would have seen the ship sink in seconds.

Johanna Pool Photography

Johanna Pool Photography 

The remaining and intact part of the ship includes 3 holds. The first, contains aircraft engines, wings and propellers and medical supplies. Hundreds of small medicine bottles litter the bottom of the hold. Some of them still have the cotton wool stuffed into the neck of the bottle and some are still dry inside. I’m sure 70+ years would have contributed to them padding their use by date, and to their not so clean white colour.

The next hold was full of more aircraft parts, a few trucks and some big shells. (The explosive type).

We took the mandatory photos holding the steering wheel of one of the big trucks, then headed into hold number 3. Here lies enough rounds of ammunition to sink a battleship (pardon the pun). Literally hundreds of thousands of billets in strips and in crates stacked high and wide, loose billets completely cover the hold and they are no less than 2 feet deep! No wonder the Japanese saw this attack as such a serious blow to their operation. The hardware and military support lost here over 2 days was massive!

My buddy and I ventured into a small corridor at the end of hold 3 and came across 2 doorways. One was blocked and the other, whilst a tight squeeze to get into, was worth the effort. A ladder going down into the next level was sure to have something in it- especially because the speed in which she sank, there was no time to remove anything or in this case, escape at all. Here at the bottom of the ladder against the wall was a full set of bones. Skull and all. Proving that not many – if any others had been in there since the ship sank.

This was a very

interesting find and one we chose not to share until after we ascended. There’s more in that room than we saw – we only see the skeleton and headed back out… Maybe on our last day of diving when we have re visit day :)
Awesome day today. Lots of fun – great diving and cool adventures. Tomorrow we have 3 dives including the Fujikawa night dive. Looking forward to that and of course what trip could possibly be a trip without some good old fashioned tradition?
Tomorrow – dive 2 marks a milestone for one of our crew. Tristan will be completing his 100th dive!
And we all know that when a 100th dive comes up – so does the naturalist dive! And on tour this makes it even more special. Tristan, tomorrow will be completing his second dive wearing nothing more than a pair of fins, gloves and a stubby holder.
Truk is about to see its first human goby.
Unfortunately due to the visually disturbing images we won’t be able to put them on here… Oh ok maybe one… Keep posted!!
written by Lee Johnson – Perth Scuba Tour Leader

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