Around 53 ships sunk, 275 aircraft destroyed and more than 4,500 killed during Operation Hailstone
It was during World War II that Truk Lagoon was attacked by US Forces during Operation Hailstone. Truk Lagoon battle Operation Hailstone raged for a full 36 hours and during which the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) ships that were moored in Truk Lagoon were destroyed and sunk.
The Ghost Fleet of Truk Lagoon is so named because of the large numbers of Japanese ships that were sunk in World War II with crew still on board. Discover and dive the Ghost fleet of Truk Lagoon in Micronesia with wrecks mostly around the Dublon, Eten, Fefan and Uman islands.
How many ships were sunk in Truk Lagoon?
Only days before the US led attack on Truk Lagoon, the Japanese got wind of it through intelligence leaks. As a result, most of their larger warships, were withdrawn from Truk Lagoon. This included their large aircraft carriers.
Despite the Japanese withdrawal operation, 53 ships were still sunk in February 1944 at Truk Lagoon. This included the sinking of twelve smaller Japanese light cruisers, destroyers, and auxiliaries together with and thirty-two merchant ships.
Along with the IJN ships that were destroyed in the same battle, the Japanese aircraft, battle tanks and other World War II artifacts make Truk Lagoon the best historic dive site in the world. It is these wrecks that make up the Ghost fleet of Truk Lagoon.
The Imperial Japanese Navy left only three warships to protect their remaining merchant ships. These include the Oite Destroyer, the Fumizuki Destroyer and the I-169 Submarine. All three warships were sunk by US forces. These lie on the sea bed in Chuuk Lagoon. All three wrecks are available to dive too and are some of the most popular wrecks of the ghost fleet of Truk Lagoon.
The ghosts that haunt Chuuk Lagoon
There are still the remains of a few of the personal that died during the Truk Lagoon battle. This includes skeletons and skulls on a number of the wrecks.
It was Jacques Cousteau and his film crew who first discovered the human remains of Japanese sailors. His film in 1969 Lagoon of Lost Ships explored the wreck of Truk Lagoon.
At that time, many of the sunken ships were then still full of bodies. As more wreck divers brought attention to the dive site, Japan began recovery efforts. Most of the bodies have now been removed and returned to Japan for burial. But as noted above, a few still remain.
All divers must respect these wrecks when the dive upon them. In fact the artifacts are protected. Whilst divers are allowed to penetrate the shipwrecks, they are forbidden from removing artifacts.
Be warned, there are fines and a possible jail sentence await those who disobey these laws of Chuuk Lagoon.
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