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Three of the wrecks to explore in Truk Lagoon

On November 15, 1939, Admiral Katagiri Eikichi’s Fourth Fleet is established at Truk. Chitose is assigned as flagship with tenders Kamoi and Kinugasa Maru of the 17th Sentai for the new fleet. During December, 24 H6K Mavis flying boats of the Yokohama Kokutai are also stationed at Truk Lagoon.Diving the wrecks of Truk Lagoon Micronesia

On the morning of February 17, 1944 US Navy aircraft launched a surprise attack (operation Hailstorm) against Truk Lagoon and caught many merchant vessels and warships at anchor. 400 tons of bombs and torpedo were dropped. Attacks continued February 18, 1944. A total of forty ships were sunk and thousands of Japanese were lost. Ten weeks later, a second raid sank more ships.

In 1969, French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and his team explored Truk Lagoon. Following Cousteau’s 1971 television documentary about the lagoon and its ghostly remains, the place became a scuba diving paradise, drawing wreck diving enthusiasts from around the world to see its numerous, virtually intact sunken ships. The shipwrecks and remains are sometimes referred to as the “Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon”. Scattered mainly around the Dublon, Eten, Fefan and Uman islands within the Truk group, a number of the shipwrecks lie in crystal clear waters less than fifteen meters below the surface. In waters devoid of normal ocean currents, divers can easily swim across decks littered with gas masks and depth charges and below deck can be found numerous human remains. In the massive ships’ holds are row upon row of fighter aircraft, tanks, bulldozers, railroad cars, motorcycles, torpedoes, mines, bombs, boxes of munitions, radios, plus thousands of other weapons, spare parts, and other artifacts. The coral encrusted wrecks attract a diverse array of marine life, including manta-rays, turtles, sharks and corals.

Below is some information about 3 of the wrecks around Truk Lagoon.

Fujikawa Maru

Ship History
Armed aircraft ferry ship with a crew of 40 men.

Sinking History
Sunk in Truk Lagoon on February 17, 1944.

Fire gutted the interior of the boat before it sank after being struck by several torpedoes midship. This is one of the most beautiful wrecks on the islands, and takes several dives to see everything. The tips of the ship’s masts break the surface, but her deck is at 70 feet and keel at 130 feet. The ship was transporting fighter aircraft, fuel and munitions, which did not explode when sunk.

A bow and stern mount defensive guns. The first hold contains the various types of machine gun ammunition, shells and weapons. The second hold contains the disassembled parts of several fighter aircraft. There are several A6M Zeros and an A5M4 Claude. Also, artillery shells, hundreds of ‘Dai Nippon Beer’ bottles, gas masks, and bombs. The third hold is empty. The last hold contains bottles.

In 1974 a Japanese delegation placed a small shrine on top of the bridge with smooth rocks with the kanji characters on then and a glass case with the names of the crew members inside.Diving the wrecks of Truk Lagoon Micronesia

San Fransisco Maru

Ship History
Built in 1919, it served in prewar trade operations with Yamashita Kisen Gomei Kaisha until the start of the Pacific war

Wartime History
Served as a cargo ship transporting raw materials to Japan from Palau and Angaur, and then transport between Japan and the ‘Inner South Seas’.

On May 4, 1943 suffered mino damage during an air raid off Wewak.

At Yokosuka from January 17-20, 1944 then departed for Truk Lagoon arriving on February 5, 1944 and remained at the 4th Fleet Anchorage south-east of Dublon, when the rest of her convoy left on February 12.

Sinking History
During “Operation Hailstone”n February 17, 1944 anchored at Eten anchorage and attacked but survived undamaged. On February 18, 1944 a TBF Avenger from USS Essex dropped a 500lbs bomb that hit midship. Leaving the ship was burning and sinking stern first and five crew died in the attack.

Resting upright the shipwreck was initially discovered by Jaques Cousteau during 1969, the shipwreck was not dived. Located again during a 1973 fathometer survey. The ship’s bell confirmed its identity. Since then, visited by SCUBA divers as one of the most spectacular shipwrecks and often called the “Million Dollar Wreck” by divers speculating at the worth of the military cargo aboard.

Coral and sponge encrusted 3 inch bow gun.

Hold No. 1
Contain spherical sea mines and their detonators and “horns” for detonation on contact in boxes nearby.

Hold No. 2
Carries several trucks, barrels of fuel and aerial bombs.

Bridge Area
The bridge area is intact, and the deck has winches. The crew quarters contain dishes, bottles and cups.

Forward of the bridge are three Type 95 Ha Go tanks: two starboard, and Type 95 Ha Go Tank on the port side. Also, a large truck, steam roller and another truck have rolled off the deck and are lying on the sea bed.

Aft Holds
The aft holds contain stacked torpedoes, some are out of place because there high pressure air tanks have since exploded. The rearmost hold is full of depth charges. Here the hull plates are split and ripped apart.

Nippo MaruDiving the wrecks of Truk Lagoon Micronesia

Sinking History
Sunk in Truk Lagoon.

Discovered by Jacques Cousteau’s 1969 expedition, and identified later as the Nippo Maru. Sits upright with a 25 degree port list. She carries a tank, coastal defense guns, mines, munitions, and water tanks. Large wenches and gun platform are at the bow.

A spare anchor is against the forecastle. Inside the forecastle are many personal effects of the crew in the silt. The forward hold contains mines, detonators, artillery shells, large containers, gas masks, oil drums.

Some of these containers contain caustic substances. No. 1 and 2 holds contain large bronze range finders and a Type 97 Tank, minus the turret gun which was how they were sometimes transported. There is a large galley and crew quarters below the bridge. In the bridge are three strong boxes. No riches inside here, in the past when ever strong boxes were recovered and opened, they contained only ordinance and small arms. Three howitzers are on the deck near the No. 4 hold. In the No. 4 hold are hundreds of beer bottles, radio equipment and a variety of items. In the aft most hold are barrels for 5″ guns. Two AA guns have fallen off the ship and are on the floor nearby.

 If you are interested in joining the Perth Scuba crew to Truk Lagoon in April 2012 contact us for more information or click here.

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