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Research Notes on Jacques Cousteau's Lagoon of Lost Ships
by Justin Taylan with Dan Bailey,  Peter Ording  and Dan Carey

Jacques Cousteau's Lagoon of Lost Ships was the first documentary to record underwater footage of the Japanese shipwrecks sunk in Truk Lagoon. According to Dan Bailey, Cousteau's widow controls all the artifacts and film from the Truk expedition and she's been unresponsive to any requests for access. Therefore, this documentary is not available on VHS or DVD commercially.

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Unknown wreck above water

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Wreck with mast above water, Sankisan Maru

Peter Ording adds: "The only two wrecks with their mast's above the waterline were Fujikawa and Sankisan. I'm guessing the mast you see in the film is the Fujikawa, but they were snorkeling on a shallower wreck. You see a large gun later in the film. That's from the Fujikawa. Had they dove the Sankisan, you would have seen piles and piles of small arms ammunition."

Dan Carey adds: "A mast protruding from the surface of the water? Well, if I was correct in identifying the "mast" as a mooring anchor, the wreck shown is probably the old Patrol Boat #34, ex-DD Sutsuki. Man, the wreck has gone down hill since the Cousteau expedition. It's hardly recognizable as a warship any longer. It looks a lot more like a barge or kelp cutter these days. I guess that the wave action has just pounded the little boat to pieces. I attached a line drawing for the PB34's sister ship, the PB36. They're identical, Second Class Destroyers that were converted to Patrol Boats early on. Allyn Nevitt from provided the drawing. The link below has an interesting discussion about these boats.

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Shallow DY41 Judy off Eten Island

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Chuuk Airport (Moen 1), today the coral has been replaced with asphalt

Dan Bailey adds: "Cousteau is landing on Moen, Currently this runway is to short and in poor condition. It needs to be rebuilt and I've heard Continental is threatening to discontinue service to Truk if something is not done soon. I've got a photograph of this runway (somewhere) which shows the water on each end of the runway. Continental pilots literally use every foot of it The airfield was once unpaved and coral surfaced, according to an Air Mike stewardess I know. She tells me that the bellies of the 727s had to be reinforced to withstand the impact of the hunks of coral kicked up by the plane's landing gear."

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Diver near Heian Maru bow

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Wooden chests with sen coins aboard Shinkoku Maru

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Infirmary, Wheelchairs and gasmask aboard same ship(?)

Dan Carey adds: "I know there is the infimary on Shinkoku Maru, not sure if its the same one here, hard to tell."

Dan Bailey adds: "The footage of the infirmary is the Shinkoku, the depth's in this film are exaggerated to promote a greater sense of danger. they are using film footage from many different wrecks and editing it together to give the impression of one dive on a single wreck."

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Truck aboard shipwreck

Dan Carey adds: "The single truck is probably from a wreck other than the Hoki which has about four trucks side by side. I can think of about five more wrecks that carried trucks. Not sure which one this is."

Dan Bailey adds: "The truck is probably on the Hoki. There were also trucks in the tween decks of the Fujikawa, I think, but those were pretty shallow and therefore had more ambiant lighting than the trucks."

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Truck and beer bottle pile

Dan Carey adds: "The bottles are from either Fujikawa or Nippo."

Dan Bailey adds: "The bottles could be anywhere. Just about every ship on the bottom of the lagoon had piles and piles of bottles aboard. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say the Rio. One of the holds aboard the Rio de Janeiro were packed with bottles. Why the Japanese never salvaged all the beer and saki is a mystery to me."

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Diver holding deer antlers and passing howitzers are filmed aboard the Nippo Maru.

Dan Carey adds: "Interesting about the antlers: Many of the merchantmen sunk at Truk burned before they went down, and if the Nippo Maru had also burned the antlers would have been consumed. The pilots who attacked the Nippo were lucky enough to put a few 1000 pound bombs into her and she sunk quickly, preserving lots of stuff."

Peter Ording adds: "The antlers are a dead give away to one of the ships. I never saw them, but if I remember my reading there were two sets of antlers aboard the Aikoku."

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18.1" armor piercing shells aboard Yamagiri Maru

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Diver near deck area

Dan Carey: "The deck area could be any number of wrecks, but I would guess Fujikawa."
Dan Bailey: "The next shot could be just about anywhere, but my initial reaction is the Hanakawa."

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Collection china from shipwreck

Dan Bailey adds: "Not sure Its hard to tell what ship they are taking china from. Likely Kensho or Momokawa.

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Overturned tanker, Hoyo Maru

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Aikoku Maru remains and Skulls aboard very deep wreck in watertight bulk head. Also, they show metal cots and folded blankets, sailors hat and shoes found.

Dan Bailey adds: "The last is taken on the Aikoku. The bones you see in the film were recovered in 1984 and given a Shinto funeral. The footage in this film was taken in hold no. 4's tween decks which were converted into living spaces for the japanese troops. The depth here is about 170 feet, not the 300 ft mentioned in the film. (great footage) the photo's I sent you were taken in the engine room at a depth of 200 ft. These bones are still there as they are to deep and dangerous to remove. (part of me says I shouldn't be going in there ether !!)"

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