Dan Carey 2000
Dan Carey 2000
Dan Carey 2000
contributes some photographs from their dives at Truk Lagoon. Dan
Carey has recently returned from a dive trip to Truk Lagoon.
I spent the weekend in the darkroom,
developing slides from the dive trip. Unfortunately, there are going
to be some gaps in my coverage due to errors on my part including
the dreaded flooded camera. I did get some shots of the heavy gun
emplacements on Uman. The Uman trip was recorded
on negative film, which is a different process than the slides.
I haven't done the negatives yet, but I'll process the roll soon.
There are few ships that sunk outside
the major anchorages: The Combined Fleet anchorage, the 4th Fleet
anchorage and the Repair anchorage west of Uman. The Hanakawa is
the farthest out, but on the way between Moen, the main island where
we stayed, and Tol, there are a couple of ships that are great dives:
The Second Class DD Fumitzuki and the AO Shinkoku Maru. On the way
out to Tol and the Hanakawa we dove the Fumitzuki.
It's surprising that the Fumitzuki is
not in deeper water. She rests in something like 110-120 fsw far from
land. Personally, I'd expect the water to be deeper way out in the lagoon,
but apparently the bottom is relatively flat. She was an old destroyer
when she went down and even though the Japanese had suffered significant
loss to their excellent destroyer fleet, the Fumitzuki was primarily
deployed as a convoy escort. She was shot up pretty badly and limped
to Truk in the weeks before the raid, and was anchored in the Repair
anchorage as Operation Hailstorm started.
Truk historians agree that the Fumitzuki
was riding her anchor as the raid began, undergoing repairs with both
her engines disassembled. The Captain was ashore, as was part of the
complement of about 150, leaving the Gunnery Officer in command. The
little ship banged away with her AA batteries while the repair crew
worked to get at least one screw turning, and eventually the ship got
underway on one turbine.
Attacking pilots identified, optimistically, the ship as
a cruiser and a detachment was sent after her. A bomb to the engine
room destroyed the operational engine and flooded the compartment. The
ship was abandoned and she sank sometime later after the wounded were
transferred to a hospital ship.
The ship's in good shape and although the water's a little
turbid on the wreck, she's a good dive. It's hard to believe that over
100 sailors lived on this little tin can; she's that small. Some distinctive
features of the ship are found at the foreship. The forecastle is not
decked flat as one would expect, but has a curved "whaleback"
deck. Perhaps this was designed to shed water in heavy seas.
The bow gun has boxes of ammunition and spent shell
casings near to hand. The Fumitzuki went down fighting. Just aft,
there is a welldeck with a triple torpedo launcher for the famed
Japanese "Long Lance" torpedoes. The bridge was just aft
of the welldeck, but it's toppled over. The superstructure seems
small and overall the ship looks shrunken compared to the big auxiliaries
in the lagoon.
Aft of where the superstructure was attached,
AA emplacements, torpedo reloads with a railroad for transporting the
"fish", and the after superstructure are located. The engine
room was below the aft superstructure and there is significant damage
here. The stern carries a gun platform, and the rudder and screws.
There is plenty of marine life on the
Fumitzuki, which adds a little color to the dive. The visibility was
marginal when we dove her, but the wreck is an interesting and historically
I did get a good roll from a trip we took out to the
Hanakawa Maru. She sunk off Tol in the western part of the lagoon
and we were lucky enough to get a calm day for the trip. Trying
to talk the dive guides into slamming over the lagoon to Tol is
a waste of time when it's rough, but we got a good day and took
advantage of it. Dan Bailey and his group were along for the ride,
which gave us lots to talk about on the long ride out and back.
She was unloading troops, probably from the
52nd division, when she was hit. It seems as though her forward
holds were carrying another of Japan's precious commodities: Fuel
in drums. A well placed torpedo sent her to the bottom quickly,
and a fuel fire spread over the water to the shore. It is unknown
how many of the soldiers survived.
The Hanakawa Maru is not a deep wreck
and there is lots of marine life on her. She's a pretty dive. There
are still many drums of fuel or aviation gas that, being lighter
than water, floated up to the deckheads of the tween decks and got
trapped there. The superstructure is open and it's interesting to
swim through the bridge and officer's quarters. Aft, the holds probably
held soldiers and their gear in crowded conditions.
On the way back from Tol we dove the Shinkoku
Maru. The Shinkoku was a fleet oiler that reportedly participated in
both the Pearl Harbor and Midway attacks. She had been damaged previously
and been repaired. But for Task Force 58 tankers were high priority
targets, and the this time Shinkoku would not escape.
The Shinkoku is an uncommonly beautiful
dive. She's shallow and the corals and fish on her are amazing. Soft
corals of spectral colors, huge, colorful anemones with clown fish,
jellyfish and even a school of barracuda were sighted on the Shinkoku
during this dive.
We repeated the dive before we left Truk and penetrated the engine
room and aft superstructure. The engine room was typical of a diesel
ship; several levels of catwalks with tools and spare parts bolted to
the bulkheads. A spare cylinder liner as big as a trash can was on one
wall. The engine room is accessible through a torpedo hole on port,
and a diver can exit through the open hatches into the superstructure.
At the after portion of the superstructure
is the galley. The dominating feature of the galley is, somewhat predictably,
the stove. A few utensils remain inside, but others have been displayed
on the exposed decks so that divers don't have to penetrate into the
ship to see them.
A mast was added aft of the superstructure
to handle fuel transport lines during refueling operations. As was the
practice during the war, a deck gun was carried aft. Usually, these
were old guns that lacked the fire control systems to make them very
effective, and typically could not be elevated above 45 degrees, so
they were useless against aircraft. But they could prevent submarines
from engaging in a surface attack, so at least they had some utility.
A Hunter and Her Prey: Diving the Aikoku Maru
and the Hoki Maru.
One of the most interesting tales about Truk is
the one about the Aikoku Maru. She was built as an
ocean liner for about four hundred passengers, but had only a brief
civilian career. The ship was converted into what was called an
ďarmed merchant raiderĒ and became essentially a pirate ship, seizing
enemy merchant shipping on the high seas.
Peter Ordling 2000
Two sorties of the Aikoku are particularly
interesting. On November 11, 1942, she was cruising in the Indian Ocean
with her sister ship, the Hokoku Maru. They sighted a
tanker escorted by the Indian minesweeper Bengal. The
marus moved to capture the tanker but were stood off by the little minesweeper.
Armed with only a 3Ē deck gun, the Bengal should have
been no match against two ships, each armed with eight 6Ē guns. However,
the Bengal sent the Hokoku to the bottom and the Aikoku
back to port.
Earlier in 1942, the two raiders were hunting in the
same area when they happened upon the Hauraki, a freighter
sailing under the New Zealand flag.† The Hauraki was captured
and sent to Japan, where she entered the Emperorís service as the Hoki
Both the Hoki and the Aikoku
went down at Truk. Both met extremely violent ends. Both are great dives.
In early February 1944 the Aikoku was
transporting men and supplies to the Marshall Islands, which were under
intense allied attack. The Marshalls lie east of Truk and were Japanís
most forward military outposts. Therefore, the bases in Majuro and Kwajalein
were also Japanís most exposed, most difficult to supply and most venerable.
|The Marshalls fell quickly. Itís likely that the
Aikokuís orders were changed en route and the soldiers, part of the
1st Amphibious Brigade, were diverted to defend the Carollines.
Some men were offloaded in Ponape, while others were at Truk during
the Operation Hailstone attack. It seems that there were no facilities
to encamp the men ashore because so many went down with the ship.
At one time the aft holds, which had been converted into temporary
living quarters, were heaped with mortal remains.
Peter Ordling 2000
The forward holds, on the other hand, probably contained
supplies and ordinance for the troops. When the ship was attacked during
the second wave of aircraft flown off the deck of Intrepid,
explosives in the holds were touched off and the resulting blast was
impressive. The plane that scored on the Aikoku disintegrated
and its pilot, Lt. J.E. Briggs and the crew of his TBF Avenger were
lost. When the smoke cleared the stern of the Aikoku was
on the bottom of the lagoon and pieces of the foreship were still falling
from the sky.
The Hoki Maru, ex. M/V Hauraki,
was still afloat at the end of the first dayís attacks. She had been
strafed, bombed and had a torpedo punched into her. At dawn she had
sunk. Itís not known if fires aboard ignited ordinance in her forward
holds or if she was a victim of the night attack launched from USS Enterprise,
but she was missing when the attack restarted the next morning.
. She lies on the bottom, with heavy equipment
in her aft holds. The bridge and foreship are present, unlike the
Aikoku, but unrecognizable. The foreship of the Hoki
could be accurately described as a debris field.
Diving the Hoki is one of Trukís
best memories because the cargo is interesting. Before she was identified
she was known as ďthe Bulldozer WreckĒ. There are a couple of† small
bulldozer in the aft hold. The holds are crammed with equipment
like trucks and asphalt rollers. It looks like Japan had decided
to get serious about building Truk into a major naval airbase, but
When one dive boat is tied up over the Hoki
and another is on the Aikoku, one can see the other
clearly. Itís ironic that the two ships which shared so common a
past ended up so close to each other. The Aikoku is
maze of cabins and passageways. The superstructure aft of the bridge
is intact if somewhat distorted by the blast that sunk the ship.
The interior of the superstructure is interesting to see, since
some of the facilities such as the heads and galleys survived the
explosion and long immersion under the sea.
Peter Ordling 2000
Peter Ordling 2000
Peter Ordling 2000