Wooden hulled boat, roughly 110' long. Possibly a prewar colonial ship that was captured by the Japanese in the Solomons or another location. Employed by the Japanese as a coastal transport.
In the later stages of the Solomons campaign, the Japanese were using small vessels to try and sneak supplies and munitions around. These vessels were often wooden pre-war fishing luggers or coasters.
When the Japanese first invaded the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, there were many wooden vessels in the area that were captured by the Japanese and used or were scuttled/burned by evacuation missionaries or traders when they pulled out. These wooden vessels met this end in Jan - August 1942. Roughly there would have been about 30 or more of these vessels scattered through the Solomons, and the Japanese did use some. They belonged to traders, government, and mission stations. Sunk off Ranongga Island.
After a severe April 2, 2007 earthquake and tsunami this shipwreck was exposed above sea level. An April 27, 2007 AP Report erroneously reported the wreck as a PT Boat. Rather, the wreck proved to be a Japanese barge instead.
Ewan Stevenson adds:
"I have done a little 'work' on this wreck and there seems a possibility of a strong New Zealand connection! I first read about the wreck in the NZ Herald newspaper here too amongst the Tsunami news. It said it was Japanese. Little did the newspaper here know that the wreck was possibly the victim of the New Zealand Air Force strike on August 26, 1943. One thing is for sure, it is not a USN PT Boat. The PT boat losses are very well recorded and the location of their losses is also well recorded. None are lost at Ranongga. [ Read Stevenson Full Report ]
Thanks to Ewan Steveson, Peter Flahavin, John Innes and Danny Kennedy for additional information.
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February 4, 2018