Truk Lagoon
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Aikoku Maru
Fujikawa Maru
Heian Maru
Kansho Maru
Nippo Maru
Rio de Janeiro
San Francisco Maru
Shinkoku Maru
Shotan Maru
Unkai Maru
Kawanishi Emily
Wreck Chart

Dublon Island from the old seaplane base on Moen Island (now a resort) Dublon Island

Truk Lagoon was a large Japanese fleet anchorage and air base in the mid-Pacific during WWII. The lagoon is an atoll where there are over forty wrecks of Japanese merchant ships that were sunk by American aircraft in February 1944. A chart of the main islands in the huge lagoon shows the location of the wreck sites that we visited.

We usually had lunch on Eten Island, which was transformed into an airstrip by the Japanese and has to its credit a Zero fighter, a Betty bomber, and an Emily flying boat in the water nearby. The island airstrip is now a coconut and banana plantation.

The following is a summary of the wrecks that we dived in 1998.

Aikoku Maru The ship was used as a combined freighter/passenger liner. The stern lies at 73 metres, and the bow is completely missing. Stern gun is at 50 metres, superstructure, living quarters.
Fujikawa Maru This freighter is 132 metres long and lies upright in 34 metres of water. The ship was mainly used to transport aircraft. Bow gun, aircraft parts, Zeros, superstructure, engine room, officer's bathroom, galley, stern gun.
Heian Maru The largest ship in the lagoon (155 metres long and 11,616 tons) lying on its port side in 33 metres. It was a passenger and cargo liner converted into a submarine depot ship. Propellers, periscopes, torpedoes, ship’s name.
Kansho Maru This freighter is 116 metres long and lies upright in 40 metres. Bow gun, artefacts, engine room, steering gear, bomb damage to stern.
Nippo Maru This water transport ship is 107 metres long and lies with a list to port at 45 metres. Tank, truck, shells, toppled funnel, Howitzers, paravanes, bottles.
Rio de Janeiro Maru Passenger liner, converted into a submarine depot ship, then to a transport.  It is 140 metres long and lies on its starboard side in 39 metres. Bow gun, promenade deck, beer bottles, stern gun, propellers.
San Francisco Maru An older style freighter, 117 metres long, lying upright at 60 metres.  The ship was used to carry munitions. Bow gun, mines, trucks, tanks, steamroller, engine room, torpedo hole, cartridges, shells, torpedoes, depth charges.
Shinkoku Maru Fleet oil tanker is 152 metres long, 10,020 tons and sits upright in 40 metres of water. Hole in port side, engine room, bridge, officer’s bathroom.
Shotan Maru An 87-metre freighter sitting in a valley with a sand hill on the starboard side.  The ship lies upright at about 50 metres. Stern gun, bomb damage, superstructure, anti-aircraft guns, funnel, trucks, windlasses.
Unkai Maru This freighter is 93 metres long and lies upright in 40 metres. Engine room, bow gun, shoes, gas masks, bottles.

As the boat circled over the San Francisco Maru on our third visit to that wreck, Chenny said quietly, “I should tell you that a local diver died here yesterday”. He had collapsed in his boat and died, presumably from an embolism. This unfortunate outcome is not surprising since local divers are not trained in decompression diving, and do not have adequate safety equipment. In the two previous dives on this wreck, Neil had noticed that there were very few mines in Hold 1 whereas it had been full in 1991.  Apparently, local divers retrieve the mines for use in fishing by explosives.  Three divers had been crippled by decompression sickness, and one had just paid the ultimate price for this dangerous occupation.

Read the published story of our trip in the articles section.

Visit the following related websites:

Useful references:
Hailstorm Over Truk Lagoon
, by Klaus Lindemann.
20 Principal Shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon
, sketches by Captain Lance Higgs of S.S. Thorfinn.
Truk Lagoon Wreck Divers Map
, by Dan E. Bailey.
Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II.


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