Chuuk Lagoon Skeletons (The Skeletons Of A Ghost Fleet)

Chuuk Lagoon skeletons - The skeletons of a ghost fleet

Some Chuuk Lagoon wrecks still have parts of skeletons inside them

The Chuuk Lagoon skeletons belies the truth of what took place at Chuuk Lagoon back in World War II. Or in fact at the time the battle took place at Chuuk Lagoon, the name of this area was called Truk Lagoon.

Chuuk Lagoon skeletons are found on the following wrecks:

  1. Yamagiri Maru wreck: Human Skull.
  2. Yamagiri Maru wreck: Human skeletal bones and a rib bone.
  3. Japanese Destroyer Oite: Human Shrine and skeletal bones.
  4. Japanese Destroyer Oite: Human skeletal bones and skull.
  5. Shinkoku Maru wreck: human skeleton bones.
  6. Heian Maru: Engine room skull.

It was only in 1990 that its name was change to Chuuk Lagoon. To find out more here’s an article on what happened at Truk Lagoon.

The important thing to take away from this article and to note before you dive Chuuk Lagoon is that it is a war grave site.

Respect is important throughout each of your dives there. These images of human skeleton parts bears memory to the Japanese sailors who lost their lives in World War II.

Dive Truk Lagoon by liveaboard:

Chuuk Lagoon skeletons – which wrecks have human remains?

There are only certain Chuuk Lagoon wrecks that still have human remains or parts of human skeletons.

You may not mind if you see a human skull or other skeleton parts when diving Chuuk Lagoon, but some divers might. But either way, it may be useful to know which wrecks you may find skeletal parts before you dive these Chuuk Lagoon wrecks.

1. Yamagiri Maru wreck – Human Skull

Yamagiri Maru wreck - Human Skull large
Thought to be the skull of Chief Engineer of the Yamagiri Maru

One of the Chuuk Lagoon wrecks still with skeletons, or should I say parts of skeletons, is the Yamagiri Maru wreck.

  • The Yamagiri Maru was a passenger cargo transport ship.
  • This Japanese cargo ship weighed 6,438 tons.
  • She was 134 metres (439 feet) in length.
  • Located north-northwest of Fefan.
  • Dive depth of 15-34 metres (50-110 feet).

This Chuuk Lagoon wreck is a recreational dive as it’s in less than 40 metres (131 feet) of water.

The above image is a human skull on the Yamagiri Maru wreck.

Yamagiri Maru wreck - Human skeletal bones and a rib bone

2. Yamagiri Maru wreck – Human skeletal bones and a rib bone

In addition to the lone human skull above there are also a number of human bones and what also looks like a rib bone too.

These parts of a human skeleton are pilled up inside one of the holds of Yamagiri Maru.

3. Japanese Destroyer Oite – Human Shrine and skeletal bones

The second wreck that habours human bones is one of only three military wrecks sitting at the bottom of Chuuk Lagoon. This is the Japanese Kamikaze Class Destroyer Oite.

  • Japanese Destroyer Oite weighed 1,523 tons.
  • This destroyer was 100 metres (327 feet) long.
  • Dive depth in between 52-62 metres (170-205 feet).
  • This Chuuk Lagoon wreck and lies towards the north end of the lagoon.

The Oite wreck is one of the many deep dives of Chuuk Lagoon. Suited best for technical divers who certified and experienced for decompression stop diving. The Oite wreck too deep for recreational diving, as she’s in water deeper than 40 metres (131 feet).

The above image is of two human skulls sitting side-by-side a statue of Buddha. This has been set up as shrine to the dead seamen of Chuuk Lagoon, many of whom died on 17th February 1944.

4. Japanese Destroyer Oite – Human skeletal bones and skull

There are other skeleton parts on the Japanese destroyer Oite wreck, which include another skull and a few leg bones.

If you are a tech diver and have the diving experience and certification to dive to more than 50 metres deep, this is an excellent wreck dive.

Shinkoku Maru wreck - human skeleton bones

5. Shinkoku Maru wreck – human skeleton bones

Another Truk Lagoon wreck to find human bones when scuba diving Chuuk Lagoon is the Shinkoku Maru wreck.

  • Shinkoku Maru was an oil tanker.
  • This Japanese tanker weighed 10,200 tons.
  • She was 152 metres (500 feet) long.
  • Dive depth of 12-40 metres (40-130 feet).
  • The Shinkoku Maru wreck is lying 3.5 miles southwest of Moen.
  • This wreck is in excellent condition and contains many artefacts.
  • Her forward deck is covered in soft coral and there’s plenty of marine life to enjoy.

More Reading: Recovery of the Junkers Jumo 211 (recovery of underwater artifacts)

But the more sinister side of this Chuuk Lagoon wreck, which also belies the story of what happened at Chuuk Lagoon, is there are also human skeleton bones here too.

In the above image you’ll see human bones on a table. This was part of the medical centre on the Shinkoku Maru.

Heian Maru - Engine room skull

6. Heian Maru – Engine room skull

The final wreck to find human bones scuba diving Chuuk Lagoon wrecks is the Heian Maru wreck.

  • The Heian Maru was a submarine tender.
  • This submarine tender weighed 11,614 tons.
  • This makes it the largest wreck sitting in Truk Lagoon.
  • She was 155 metres (510 feet long).
  • Dive depth of 15-34 metres (50-110 feet).
  • The Heian Maru makes and excellent dive, and since the maximum depth is under 40 metres (131 feet) this is a great recreational dive site.

You’ll find a solitary human skull in the engine room of the Heian Maru wreck, as shown in the above image.

How long does it take for bones to decompose in the ocean?

Once a human body has been skeletonized after the scavenging animals have removed the fleshy parts, the bones may undergo fossilization in salty sea water. Fossilization is when the bones are converted into minerals. This means the bones may last indefinitely at Truk Lagoon.

Keen to scuba dive Chuuk Lagoon

Chuuk Lagoon isn’t only about the skeletons and human remains, but is about serious wreck diving.

The wrecks are amazing and huge. Plus there are many military artefacts to explore in and around many of the wrecks.

Please also have a read of this article on how to get to Chuuk Lagoon. Plus if you want to dive Chuuk by liveaboard, this article Truk Lagoon by liveaboard is worth reading too. Or search on Liveaboard.com here:

I hope you enjoyed this article about Chuuk Lagoon skeletons

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or scuba diving (or specifically about Chuuk Lagoon skeletons), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

Chuuk Lagoon Skeletons (The Skeletons Of A Ghost Fleet)
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