What Happened At Truk Lagoon In 1944 (Truk Lagoon Wrecks)

What happened at Truk Lagoon Chuuk Lagoon - Scuba Divers Paradise

Truk Lagoon diving is on many scuba diver’s bucket list but what happened at this famous lagoon and why is it so popular with scuba divers?

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It is what happened at Truk Lagoon that makes this place special for scuba divers from around the world. The Truk Lagoon wrecks left from what happened make for a chance in a life-time dive trip. Truk Lagoon diving is out of this world. But how did the wrecks get there and what happened all those years ago?

What happened at Truk Lagoon happened in 1944 during World War II in Operation Hailstone when the Americans attacked the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) stronghold at anchor in the lagoon. The battle of Truk Lagoon lasted for 36 hours, during which 53 Japanese ships were sunk and can still be dived today.

Of the 53 IJN ships suck during World War II around 48 are now dived. Scuba diving the wrecks of Truk Lagoon (or Chuuk Lagoon) is a wreck-diver’s Mecca. However, due to the depths of many of the Truk Lagoon wrecks the diving is for the more advanced deep divers and tech divers to enjoy.

But before I explain this further, it’s important to understand that Truk Lagoon was renamed Chuuk Lagoon.

When did Truk Lagoon become Chuuck Lagoon?

When did Truk Lagoon become Chuuck Lagoon?

The famous lagoon is located in the central Pacific Ocean which has been known for many years as Truk Lagoon. But the lagoon was renamed in 1990 to Chuuk Lagoon.

The name ‘Chuuk‘ means mountain in the Chuukese language. Where Chuukese is also given the name Trukese. This is a Trukic language.

This language, where there are estimated to be 45,900 speakers in Micronesia, is mostly only spoken on the Chuuk Islands and the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. This Chuuk language forms part of the Austronesian language.

But there are also communities that speak this ancient language on Pohnpei, Guam, and on the Hawaiian Islands of America too.

Is Chuuk a country?

Chuuk isn’t a country, but is a state. Chuuk or Truk is one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The other states that form Chuuk include Kosrae State, Pohnpei State, and Yap State.

Is Chuuk a US territory?

Chuuk is not a US territory. However, after the War, Chuuk was one of six districts of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands which were administered by the United States.

This ‘Trust Territory‘ was put in place under charter from the United Nations at the end of World War II until the early 1990s. It was up to this point that these islands were known as Truk Lagoon, but after this date the name was changed to Chuuk Lagoon.

Today Chuuk is a state within the independent Federated States of Micronesia.

Is Micronesia part of the US?

The Federated States of Micronesia, which is also known simply as Micronesia, is an independent republic, which is associated to the United States.

The history and ownership of Chuuk

The history and ownership of Chuuk

Chuuk was originally part of the other islands that speak the Chuuk language, the Caroline Islands. Because of the link to the Caroline Islands, Chuuk was a part of the Spanish Empire in the late 19th century. It was then part of the German Empire and finally the Japanese empire.

Interestingly enough, Chuuk became a possession of the Empire of Japan under a mandate from the League of Nations following Germany’s defeat in World War I.

During World War II, Chuuk Lagoon was Japan’s main naval base in the South Pacific. This is where a significant portion of the Imperial Japanese Naval fleet were based.

Its administrative center on Tonoas (south of Weno, both marked on the map above). Some have even described Truk as Japan’s equivalent of the Americans’ Pearl Harbour.

But also, and due to its heavy fortifications which were both natural and man-made, the base at Truk was known to Allied forces as “the Gibraltar” of the Pacific.

World War II wrecks of the Truk Lagoon - Now Chuuk Lagoon

World War II wrecks of the Truk Lagoon (Now Chuuk Lagoon)

During World War II the American forces captured the Marshall Islands, which in today’s terms is a four hour 40 minute flight to Truk Lagoon.

The Americans used the Marshall Islands as a base from which to launch Operation Hailstone. This was an early morning attack on February 17, 1944 against Truk Lagoon and the Japanese fleet.

This operation lasted for three solid days. As a result of the attack the Americans sank approximately 53 Japanese ships and destroyed around 250 planes.

The sunken ships included twelve smaller Japanese warships (light cruisers, destroyers, and auxiliaries) and thirty-two merchant ships.

Here’s a flavour of what Operation Hailstone was like back in 1944 and World War II

As a consequences of Operation Hailstone, the attack made “Truk lagoon” the biggest graveyard of ships in the world. It is thought that more than 3000 people died in Truk Lagoon during World War II. It is said that the souls of those that died are haunting the area.

You’ll see below that on some of the Truk Lagoon wrecks there are still human remains. This definitely adds to the eerie but impressive feeling of the dives there.

Truk Lagoon and human remains resulted from many Japanese sailors going down with their ships. It’s estimated that on one ship alone 400 Japanese soldiers, who were stuck in the cargo hold, were killed when it sunk.

There’s still evidence today of the deaths from this raid on the Truk Islands. As in certain of the wrecks you can see human remains. This includes human skeleton parts like bones and skulls.

An example of a dive on Chuuk Lagoon – these are deep wrecks

You’ll notice that the scuba divers in most of the videos either have a re-breather or they have a pony cylinder and most have twin sets too.

This is because many of the Truk Lagoon dives are deep dives and they are all likely to be decompression stop dives. Not all wrecks are extremely deep. But even some of the shallower wrecks are in 30 plus metres (100 feet) of water.

This means that in order to spend any reasonable time on these wrecks you really need to consider decompression stop diving. Otherwise your bottom time will be severely limited. Consequently the time spent on the wrecks will be short.

Truk Lagoon diving - A Mecca for wreck divers

Truk Lagoon diving – A Mecca for wreck divers

As explained above, scuba diving the wrecks of Truk Lagoon is deep diving. When I say deep, I mean the majority of the wrecks are deeper that 30 metres (100 feet) deep.

True Lagoon (or Chuuk Lagoon) is definitely a Mecca for wreck divers. You’ll see below a summary of some of the more popular World War II wrecks of Truk Lagoon.

To enjoy the diving on the majority of these wrecks you will need to be a more advanced diver to dive them. Whilst you’ll note when you read the wreck descriptions below that some start quite shallow, the majority are much deeper.

For you to get the most out of your Truk Lagoon diving, it would be beneficial for you to be a Nitrox diver. Or even better, a technical diver who’s used to diving on more advanced mixed gasses.

The water is warm for most of the year. Temperatures ranging from 26 and 30° C (78-86° F). The climate is temperate in the Micronesia area. The dry season runs from December to April, which is the best time for Truk Lagoon diving.

To see the location of the Truk Lagoon wrecks on a map, please follow this link to: Truk Lagoon wreck map. Plus to see how to get to Truk Lagoon, please take a read of this article: How to get to Truk Lagoon.

Wreck divers Mecca - Wrecks and underwater sea creatures

Wreck divers Mecca – Wrecks and underwater sea creatures

Amongst the wrecks themselves, which are impressive by themselves, many of them still have their cargos to explore. Many of these World War II ships were sunk with their cargo in place. This means that their cargo holds are still completely filled

True Lagoon divers will see artefacts ranging from:

  • Battle tanks.
  • Bulldozers.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Boxes of ammunition.
  • Torpedoes and bombs (shells) and other weapons.
  • But you will also see smaller things like cutlery and china wear, bottles of Japanese Sake and other personal belongings, like shoes etc.

But for those of you who also love to experience the wonderful sea life that ship wrecks attract, after so many years of being submerged, each of the Truk Lagoon wrecks have created their own little marine ecosystems.

Depending on the depth of the wreck will depend on how much growth there is to see. But many of the Chuuk Lagoon wrecks have sponges with soft and hard corals growing across the whole superstructure of the wreck.

For those of you who are like myself, you will also experience animal underwater sea creatures too. This includes grey reef sharks, stingrays, eagle rays, turtles, jellyfish and many of colourful, tropical and coral fish.

How deep are the wrecks in Truk Lagoon?

How deep are the wrecks in Truk Lagoon?

Whilst some of the wrecks can be accessed from around 5-15 metres (16-49 feet) deep, many of the wrecks are very deep. But they are still accessible for recreational scuba divers, as some lie in depths of 30-40 metres (100-130 feet).

However, to spend any reasonable amount of time on these wrecks at this sort of depth, you are probably looking at diving decompression stop dives.

But also, for those technical divers amongst you, some of the wrecks are sitting at 60-70 metres (230 feet). Which would mean using special mixed gases to achieve these depths.

Truk Lagoon or Chuuk Lagoon and wreck diving are synonymous. If you love wreck diving, then you need to add Chuuk Lagoon to your bucket-list. One of the great aspects to diving on these many wrecks in Chuuk is the visibility.

Visibility in the area ranges from 12-30 metres (40-100 feet). This sometimes provides the opportunity to have a stunning view of entire wrecks.

Video of diving Chuuk Lagoon

This video is pretty cool, as the video over-lays images and names of the wrecks sitting on the sea bed at Chuuk Lagoon.

Now that you’ve had a taste of what the Chuuk Lagoon wrecks look like on video, here’s a description of the wrecks you can dive.

World War II wrecks of the Truk Lagoon - list of wrecks in truk lagoon

World War II wrecks of the Truk Lagoon – list of wrecks in Truk Lagoon

Note that in 1944 during World War II the Americans sunk and destroyed over 220,000 tons of Japanese shipping!

But also, please bear in mind that Chuuk Lagoon is a grave site too. You will need to respect this when you dive the site. So by what happened at Truk Lagoon is what’s resulted in the following list of wrecks in Truk Lagoon.

Aikoku Maru wreck

The first World War II wreck of True Lagoon is Aikoku Maru.

  • The Aikoku Maru was a converted passenger freighter, sitting upright, with her fore ship destroyed.
  • It has AA guns and a huge stern gun and personal artefacts.
  • This wreck lies at a depth of 24-64 metres (79-210 feet).
  • The Aikoku Maru has a length of 151 metres (495 feet) and weighed in a 10,437 tons.

Video of Aikoku Maru wreck

Fujikawa Maru wreck - Chuuk or Truk Lagoon

Fujikawa Maru wreck

The Fujikawa Maru was a passenger cargo ship and is sitting upright on the sea bed.

  • There are aircraft parts, fuel drums, shells, guns and many artefacts in forward holds.
  • It has a very interesting engine room and huge deck guns on the bow and stern.
  • This ship had a length of 131 metres (430 feet) and weighed 6,938 tons.
  • It has excellent coral growth and plenty of fish life.
  • This wreck sits at a depth of 5-37 metres (15-120 feet).

Video of Fujikawa Maru wreck

Fumitzuki wreck - Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon

Fumitzuki Destroyer wreck of Truk Lagoon

The Fumitzuki was a Mutsuki Class Destroyer.

  • The Fumitzuki Destroyer was an improved version of the Kamikaze-class destroyer.
  • These were the first destroyers with triple 61 centimetre (24 inches) torpedo tubes.
  • She sits upright on the sea bed, but is listing to port.
  • There is extensive marine growth on her hull with many schools of fish to see. She is at a depth of 30-40 metres (100-130 feet).
  • The Fumitzuki Destroyer was built in 1926 and is 97 metres (320 feet) in length, with a gross tonnage of 1,913.

Video of Fumitzuki Destroyer wreck

Video of Hoki Maru (MV Hauraki) - Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon

Hoki Maru wreck

The Hoki Maru was a New Zealand cargo ship, which was captured by the Japanese.

  • Her original name was the M/V Hauraki, She was 136 metres (450 feet) long with a gross tonnage of 7,112 tons.
  • The ‘M/V Hauraki’ is sitting upright, but the main section is broken up from the blast to her when she was sunk by the Americans.
  • The aft hold is the main attraction to scuba divers. These are packed with trucks, bulldozers, a tractor, a steamroller, depth charges and radial engines.
  • She sits in a depth of between 24-50 metres (80-165 feet).

Video of Hoki Maru (M/V Hauraki) wreck

IJN Kensho Maru wreck - Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon

IJN Kensho Maru wreck

The IJN Kensho Maru was a passenger cargo ship.

  • She sits at a depth of 12-40 metres (40-130 feet) and lies with a slight list to port.
  • Kensho Maru has many artefacts in her superstructure and she has a particularly interesting engine room.
  • IJN Kensho Maru was 116 metres (384 feet) in length and weighed 4,862 tons.
  • She was built for Inui Kisen K.K. of Kobe, Japan in 1938.

Video of IJN Kensho Maru wreck

Nippo Maru Wreck - Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon

Nippo Maru wreck

The Nippo Maru was a heavily laden cargo ship when she was sank on 17th February 1944.

  • She is sitting upright in 18-48 metres (60-180 feet) of water.
  • On-board she had coastal defence guns, field artillery, trucks, a tank, machine guns, shells, mines.
  • Nippo Maru has a particularly photogenic bridge.
  • She was sunk by three 500lb bombs by the American TBF Avengers aircraft.
  • She was 108 metres (354 feet) in length and had a 3,764-ton cargo carrying capacity.
  • Nippo Maru was first launched in Kobe, Japan in 1936. 

Video of Nippo Maru wreck

Sankisan Maru wreck in Truk or Chuuk Lagoon - Ammunition in the hold

Sankisan Maru wreck

The Sankisan Maru wreck was a cargo ship.

  • Her aft is at a depth of 1-27 metres (3-90 feet) and is sitting upright. But the stern is down at 48 metres ( 160 feet).
  • Most of her aft section is missing due to a huge explosion when she was finally sank.
  • Sankisan Maru was sunk on 18th February 1944 after being hit by a torpedo.
  • The fore ship has beautiful coral growth and plenty of fish life.
  • You’ll see truck frames, plane parts, ammunition, ink and medicine bottles.
  • She was a 112 metres (370 feet) 4,776 ton Japanese cargo ship.

Video of Sankisan Maru wreck

Hanakawa Maru Wreck - Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon

Hanakawa Maru wreck

The Hanakawa Maru wreck was a passenger Cargo ship.

  • She is sitting upright in around 15-30 metres (50-100 feet) of water.
  • There are fuel drums and cement bags in the holds, which is all part of the wreckage.
  • The Hanakawa Maru wreck is covered in soft corals. You see in the video below.
  • The Hanakawa Maru was a 112 metres (368 feet) long ship, weighing in at 4,739 tons.
  • She was built in 1942 for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha of Kobe, Japan.

Video of Hanakawa Maru wreck

Nagano Maru wreck

The Nagano Maru wreck was a passenger cargo ship.

  • This wreck is sitting upright in 42-64 metres (140-210 feet) of water.
  • In the hold you’ll see an intact truck, construction trailers and timbers, plus some cooking kettles on deck.
  • The Nagano Maru was 105 metres (345 feet) in length and weighed in at 3,824 tons.
  • She was built for the prestigious Nippon Yusen Kaisha (N.Y.K. Line) of Tokyo, Japan in 1917.

Video of Nagano Maru wreck

Hoyo Maru wreck

The Hoyo Maru wreck was a tanker.

  • At the time she was sunk, she was undergoing repairs due to being torpedoed in November 1943.
  • She finally came to rest on the seabed on 17 February 1944.
  • As she sank, she capsized and now she lies upside down with a broken back.
  • The engine room is damaged. But still accessible by scuba divers and the main hull is covered in hard corals.
  • The Hoyo Maru wreck is sitting at a depth of 3-30 metres (9-100 feet).
  • She is 145 metres (475 feet) in length and weighed 8,691 tons.
  • She was built in 1936 originally as a commercial oiler.
  • The Hoyo Maru was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy in 1941.

Video of Hoyo Maru wreck

Amagisan Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Amagisan Maru wreck

The Amagisan Maru was a passenger cargo ship.

  • She sits at 25-55 metres (80-180 feet) of water.
  • Where she sits on the seabed, she has a strong list to port.
  • She has a large bow gun, trucks in the hold, aircraft parts and a staff car in front hold.
  • The Amagisan Maru wreck was a large ship, with a length of 136 metres (450 feet).
  • She weighed in at 7,620 tons.
  • The Amagisan Maru was built in 1933 by Mitsui Bussan Kaisha of Tokyo.

Video of Amagisan Maru wreck

Fujisan Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon Shot Of Her Large Propeller

Fujisan Maru wreck

The Fujisan Maru wreck was a naval tanker and was underway when she was sunk on 17th February 1944.

  • Sitting in deeper water at between 36-60 metres (120-200 feet), she is one of the deeper wrecks of Chuuk Lagoon.
  • The Fujisan Maru is sitting upright, but with a strong list to port.
  • If you like to penetrate wrecks when you dive, the engine room is accessible through hull plates.
  • The bridge is still intact on what was one of the largest ships in Truk Lagoon at the time of Operation Hailstone.
  • She was 156 metres (512 feet) long.
  • You’ll be able to see the huge propeller of this large ship. The propeller is shown in the above image and can also be seen in the video below.

Video of Fujisan Maru wreck

Gosei Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon The Hole In Her Side From a Torpedo

Gosei Maru wreck

The Gosei Maru wreck was a cargo ship.

  • She is lying in between 3-37 metres (9-120 feet) of water.
  • She is lying on her port side on a very steep incline as can be seen by the range of depths of the dive.
  • Before she sank on 17 February 1944, the Gosei Maru had off-loaded the majority of her cargo.
  • All that remains in the holds are some torpedo bodies, shells, lanterns and empty fuel drums.
  • The propeller of this 82 metre (272 feet) ship is in shallow water.
  • She would have been 1,931 tons.
  • On this dive on the Gosei Maru wreck you’ll see plenty of fish and coral life.

Video of Gosei Maru wreck

Hokuyo Maru wreck

The Hokuyo Maru wreck was a passenger freighter and became a naval auxiliary ship.

  • The Hokuyo Maru was also sunk on 17th February 1944 by the Americans during Operation Hailstone.
  • This wreck is sitting upright in 42-64 metres (140-210 feet) of water.
  • Hokuyo Maru has an interesting bridge and engine room.
  • This ship was a 112 metre (368 feet) long ship weighing in at 4,739 tons.

Video of the Hokuyo Maru

Kiyosumi Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Kiyosumi Maru wreck

The Kiyosumi Maru ship was sunk by American aircraft on 17th Febary 1944.

  • She was a passenger cargo ship, but was converted to a Merchant Cruiser.
  • Kiyosumi Maru is lying in 12-33 metres (40-110 feet) of water on her port side.
  • She had been attacked by submarine torpedoes. This has given her some large torpedo holes in her hull.
  • Kiyosumi Maru was in the process of being repaired at Truk Lagoon when she was finally sunk by American aircraft.
  • Scuba divers will see AA guns, gun turrets, bicycles, shells and various other interesting artefacts.
  • The Kiyosumi Maru was 137 metres (453 feet) long and weighed 8,614 tons.
  • She was built in 1934 for Kokusai Kisen K.K. This was a major Tokyo-based shipping company at the time.

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

Video of Kiyosumi Maru wreck

Rio de Janeiro Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon - With Name Plaque

Rio de Janeiro Maru wreck

The Rio de Janeiro Maru wreck was a 140 metre (461 feet) long passenger liner.

  • She is lying on her starboard side in 10-33 metres (35-110 feet) of water.
  • You can even see a part of the name of the wreck on its hull.
  • She was sunk on 17 February 1944 by US aircraft.
  • Points of interest for scuba divers include a huge stern gun, several large gun turrets and gun barrels in the holds.
  • There are also many beer bottles and there’s good access to the wreck with an interesting engine room.
  • The Rio de Janeiro Maru had a gross tonnage of 9,626 tons.
Rio de Janeiro Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Video of Rio de Janeiro Maru wreck

Seiko Maru wreck

The Seiko Maru wreck was a 119 metre (394 feet) freighter, weighing 5,385 tons.

  • She is sitting upright in 23-50 metres (75-160 feet) of water.
  • There are still torpedoes to see in the holds and a field gun on her bow.
  • There are also china and other artefacts in superstructure to be seen on this dive.
  • She was built just four years before she was sunk for the prestigious Dairen Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha.
  • The Seiko Maru had been crippled when submarine USS Steelhead torpedoed her in 1943.
  • She had been floating dead in the water until she was eventually towed 243 miles to Truk for repairs.
Seiko Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon image 2

Video of the Seiko Maru wreck

Yamagiri Maru wreck

The Yamagiri Maru wreck was a 133 metre (439 feet) passenger cargo ship.

  • She was 6,438 tons and built in 1938 for Kobe-based Yamashita Steamship Company.
  • Yamagiri Maru is lying in 12-33 metres (40-110 feet) of water on her port side.
  • There are huge shells and construction equipment in her aft hold.
  • Scuba divers can also penetrate the superstructure to see her interesting engine room.
  • She was finally sunk on 18th February 1944, on the second day of Operation Hailstone.

Video of Yamagiri Maru wreck

Oite wreck

The Oite wreck was a Kamikaze Class Destroyer and was sunk on 18th February 1944.

  • It’s wrecks like this one which highlight how Truk Lagoon is a graveyard.
  • When the Oite sank there were only a few survivors from the nearly 700 crew on board her when she sunk.
  • The Oite Destroyer was sunk by Avenger Torpedo bombers.
  • She was broken in two when a torpedo hit the aft of the bridge.
  • Still broken in two with the forward and medium section upside down on the sea bed sitting in 50-62 (170-205 feet) metres of water.
  • The Oite Destroyer was 100 metres (327 feet) long and a 1,523 ton ship, and was built in 1924 by the Uraga Dock Co., Ltd of Tokyo, Japan.
  • For those of you who like to see guns, there is one of the 4.7 inch guns on the deck, as shown in the above image and in the video below.
  • In addition to this gun there were two 7.7mm guns, 2 pairs of 21-inch torpedo tubes, 4 depth charge throwers (see video below), and 18 depth charges on board.
Oite Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon - 4.7 Inch Gun
Oite Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon - Some Of The Truk Lagoon Human Remains - Bones and a Human Skull

But also be aware, as also shown in the video below, that you may see human remains on this wreck.

Oite Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon - The Truk Lagoon Human Remains - Human Skull Memorial Next To Buddha

The more Truk Lagoon human remains as a memorial to the lives of the Japanese naval crew, next to a Buddha.

Video of Oite wreck

Something to note towards the end of this video of the dive on the Oite wreck is the decompression time. This was 54 minutes!

Yubae Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Yubae Maru wreck

The Yubae Maru was sunk on 17th February 1944 by US aircraft during Operation Hailstone.

  • Yubae Maru was an army cargo ship built in 1919.
  • She measures 105 metres (344 feet) and weighing 3,217 tons.
  • She was built by Ishikawajima SB co.
  • Yubae Maru is lying on her port side in 18-37 metres (60-120 feet) of water.
  • Yubae Maru had only arrived in Truk Lagoon about a week before she was sunk by American Forces.
  • Scuba divers will enjoy the many artefacts, which includes china, a sewing machine and an anchor in the forward hold.

Video of the Yubae Maru wreck

Heian Maru wreck

The Heian Maru was a submarine tender, which was a converted passenger liner.

  • She is the largest of this ghost fleet to be sunk by American Forces during Operation Hailstone standing in at 155 metres (510 feet).
  • Heian Maru is lying in 11-33 metres (35-110 feet) of water on her port side.
  • Inside the superstructure you’ll see shells (bombs), torpedoes, submarine periscopes, china plates, Sake bottles, medical kits, a bath tub, a radio room and many other artefacts. See the video below.
  • Her name can be clearly seen on the side of her hull.
  • You can also see her huge propellers too.

This 11,614-ton Passenger-Cargo Ship was built in 1930 at a cost of $15,000,000! This amount of money in 2019 would be worth over $227,000,000!

Video of the Heian Maru wreck

I-169 Submarine wreck of Truk Lagoon Details Of Truk Lagoon Wrecks

I-169 Submarine wreck

The I-169 Submarine is a Class I 168 Kadai Submarine sitting upright in 27-43 metres (90-140 feet) of water.

  • Unfortunately there are no penetrations of this submarine wreck.
  • Although you’ll see on this article, there’s a video of a scuba diving getting inside the I-169 Submarine.
  • The entire crew were lost when this submarine submerged on 2 April 1944. This happened when a second air raid took place on Truk Lagoon.
  • The submarine developed problems when it submerged, never to surface again. The entire crew on-board suffocated.
  • The severely damaged bow and conning tower happened as a result of Japanese depth charges.
  • The Japanese were attempting to destroy her for fear of this submarine being captured by Allied Forces.
  • The I-169 Submarine was 102 metres (337 feet) in length and weighed 1,400 tons.
  • The I-169 Cruiser-Submarine was launched on February 15th, 1934 and is thought to have been a part of the Pearl Harbour attack.

Video of the I-169 Submarine wreck

Momokawa Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Momokawa Maru wreck

The Momokawa Maru arrived in Truk Lagoon on 4th February 1944.

  • She was towing the damaged IJN transport Kensho Maru ship. She was requisitioned in 1942 as an auxiliary transport vessel.
  • On the first day of attack by US Task Force, 58 aircraft lightly damaged her on 17th February 1944.
  • It was on the second day of Operation Hailstone that she was attacked by Curtiss Helldiver dive bombers from the fast aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill.
  • She was hit by a 1,000lb bomb amidships and soon sank rolling to her port side.
  • Momokawa Maru was a passenger cargo ship.
  • She is lying on her port side in 27-40 metres (90-130 feet) of water.
  • The forward hold is full of plane parts, trucks and shells. She has an interesting bridge and galley.
  • The Momokawa Maru was 107 metres (354 feet) long ship weighing in at 3,829 tons.
  • Momokawa Maru was built in 1941 by Kawasaki Dockyard Co. Ltd., Kobe, for the ‘K Line’ shipping company.

Video of the Momokawa Maru wreck

San Francisco Maru wreck

The San Francisco Maru wreck was a passenger cargo ship.

  • She measures 117 metres (385 feet).
  • She was 5,831 tons.
  • The San Francisco Maru operated in world trade operations in minerals such as coal, bauxite, and phosphate for transportation to the Japanese Empire.
  • She is sitting upright in 42-64 metres (140-210 feet) of water.
  • Divers will get to see a bow gun, trucks, tanks, mines, shells, bombs, aircraft engines, ammunition, china and depth charges on stern.
  • The San Francisco Maru was 117 metres (385 feet) in length and weighed 5,831 tons.
  • This passenger-Cargo ship was built in 1919 for Yamashita Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha.

Video of the San Francisco Maru wreck

Shinkoku Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Shinkoku Maru wreck

The Shinkoku Maru wreck was a 152 metre (500 feet) long tanker weighing 10,020 tons.

  • Like the Oite wreck this one demonstrates the true nature of this ghostly fleet that were sunk in Truk Lagoon.
  • There are also bones to be found inside this wreck too. These are alongside bottles and men’s clothing and shoes.
  • Also particularly noticeable on this wreck are the many beautiful soft corals and big schools of fish.
  • You’ll find it easy to penetrate the engine room and superstructure of the Shinkoku Maru.
  • She is at a depth of 12-40 metres (40-130 feet) on an even keel and upright.
  • Shinkoku Maru only arrived at Truk on February 14th 1944, which was only three days prior to the carrier air strikes of Operation Hailstone.
  • The name of this wreck has a symbolic meaning, where the name ‘Shinkoku’ means ‘divine country’.
  • This is another of the Truk Or Chuuk Lagoon wrecks that has human remains in its midst.
Shinkoku Maru Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon And What Looks Like More Human Remains

Video of the Shinkoku Maru wreck

Unkai Maru No. 6 Wreck - Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Unkai Maru No. 6 wreck

The Unkai Maru No. 6 wreck was a cargo ship.

  • She was 100 metres (331 feet) in length.
  • She weighed 3,100 tons and was built in Great Britain in 1905.
  • The Unkai Maru was bombed on 17 February 1944 and set on fire, but remained afloat.
  • It was on the second day of Operation Hailstone where Unkai Maru took several more hits and finally sunk on 18th February 1944.
  • Now sitting upright at a depth of 24-50 metres (80-130 feet).
  • Scuba divers that dive the Unkai Maru No. 6 will see the three inch bow gun.
  • There are also many artefacts in the front hold, depth charges and an old steering mechanism at the stern to be seen.

You’ll also see the collapsed smoke stack on the deck of this wreck, in addition to her schooner style stern too.

Unkai Maru was originally christened ‘Venus’, but the name was changed when Nakamuru Gumi purchased her in 1911. At the time, she was a relatively old coal fired steam ship. The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel.

She was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy late in the war on January 5th 1944. She only arrived into Truk on 30th January 1944.

Video of Unkai Maru wreck

Reiyo Maru No. 6 Wreck Truk or Chuuk Lagoon

Reiyo Maru wreck

The Reiyo Maru wreck was a passenger cargo ship built in 1920.

  • She was 121 metres (400 feet) long and weighed 5,446 tons.
  • Reiyo Maru was sunk by US aircraft on the first day of Operation Hailstone.
  • She was sunk by American dive bombers which came from the USS Essex.
  • These bombers scored two direct hits with 1,000 lb. bombs.
  • She is sitting upright in 50-65 metres (170-220 feet) of water.
  • In the video below, it also proves that there are sharks to be seen in Chuuk Lagoon as well as many other coral reef fish.

Video of the Reiyo Maru wreck

Planes in Chuuk or Truk Lagoon

What happened at Truk Lagoon has not only left ship wrecks, but also World War II planes too. The first of these World War II planes is ‘Betty Bomber‘.

Betty Bomber Chuuk Lagoon plane wreck

Betty Bomber Chuuk Lagoon plane wreck

Betty Bomber was a Mitsubishi G4M3 Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber, which first took to the air in 1939. Mass production began of this land-based attack aircraft in 1940.

  • This aircraft was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II.
  • It was the Allies that gave it the reported name ‘Betty’.
  • But the Japanese name Hamaki was used, which means ‘cigar’ as the shape of its fuselage is that of a cigar.
  • It would appear that this aircraft was landing at Ettea Island airstrip, but it unluckily went down just a few hundred metres short.
  • Betty Bomber is sitting in much shallower waters than the ship wrecks of Chuuk Lagoon.
  • She is resting at 15 metres (50 feet) and is upright.
  • The nose is very broken and the engines are a good 50 metre (164 feet) swim off the starboard front side.
  • This is because as they broke away from the plane, they travelled forward when it first crashed into the sea.
Betty Bomber Chuuk Lagoon Plane Wreck Inside Her Fuselage

Video of Betty Bomber wreck

Emily Flying Boat Chuuk Lagoon

Emily Flying Boat Chuuk Lagoon

Emily Flying Boat is a Kawanishi H8K Navy Type 2 Flying-Boat.

  • She was called the “Flying Porcupine” because she was armed with five 20mm cannons and four machine guns.
  • Emily Flying Boat is 28 metres (92 feet) in length.
  • Like Betty Bomber, Emily Flying Boat is at 15 metres (50 feet) deep.
  • She is a massive plane wreck, which you’ll see from the image at the beginning of the video below and is lying upside down with the tail broken away.
  • The engines look good with no propeller bends, which suggesting no impact – i.e. the plane sunk whilst moored

Video of Emily Flying Boat

Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau made Truk Lagoon famous

It was in 1969 that French scuba diver Jacques Cousteau, together with William A. Brown and his team explored the wrecks of Truk Lagoon.

This exploration was made into a television documentary in 1971. This documentary highlighted Truk’s ghostly human remains and the vast number of wrecks. As a result Truk became a scuba diver’s paradise.

For those wreck diving enthusiasts from around the world, Truk Lagoon became the best place to experience a large number of wrecks, which were mostly virtually intact, and all in one place.

The wrecks around Chuuk or Truk Lagoon are scattered around the islands of Dublon, Eten, Fefan (marked on the map above) and Uman (marked on the map above).

The best parts to diving Truk Lagoon is the visibility is usually great and the waters warm.

What is Truk or Chuuk Lagoon like to scuba dive?

Chuuk Lagoon is relatively easy to dive, as the surrounding reef protects the lagoon from any nearby strong currents.

There are two ways to scuba dive Chuuk Lagoon, which is either land-based or on a Truk Lagoon liveaboard dive trip.

However, as you will have seen many of the wrecks are deep. This means that in order to dive Chuuk Lagoon and the wrecks, you will need to be a deep diver (30 plus metres) or a technical diver.

You are probably better to consider diving on a rebreather too.

I hope you enjoyed this article about what happened at Truk Lagoon

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 what happened at Truk Lagoon), 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!

What Happened At Truk Lagoon In 1944 (Truk Lagoon Wrecks)

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