Friday, April 12, 2013

Diving Truk Lagoon

Many years ago Elder Tiffany and I were certified for scuba diving.  We dove a few times but not a lot.  I told him back then that I would love to dive a ship wreck one day.  Well that day came and I was READY. Diving conditions in Truk Lagoon are comfortably easy, with minimal currents, bath-like water temperature (29’C/84’F) and very good light. Anytime is ‘best’ time for diving Truk, as there are no real seasons. NE trade-winds from January to April create a cooling effect with a light sea chop. Rainfall is fairly consistent year round with short sharp showers followed by ample quantities of sun!
Our boat heading out to begin our diving on 
The Rio De Janeiro Maru
The Rio De Janeiro Maru sunk by two USS Essex aircraft that scored 1,000 lbs bomb hits on the ship on February 16, 1944.
Rear hold have only beer bottles, fuel drums and crew quarters. Another 6 inch gun is aft as well as her two large propellers. In the holds are guns, coal and beer bottles.
Located in 1978 and 1980 during fathometer searches, it is one of the deepest wrecks and very rarely dived. She carries large 6" deck gun above the forecastle. Its 15' barrel points downward. Below the gun is stored ammunition. Internal explosions blew debris through the deck in this area, probably shells exploding. The ship's name is clearly visible on the side of the bow. Large degaussing wires are around the hull to repel magnetic mines.
The No.1 hold contains artillery shells and debris. Large guns are in the second hold while winches and cargo equipment above. The galley contains china and in the bridge are "D" shaped portholes some with their glass still intact.  Rio De Janeiro Maru was attacked during the day by a variety of planes on February 16th and sunk overnight.

 Before doing the second dive we snorkeled a airplane that was about 15 feet down.  This way we could decompress some before diving the Fujikawa Maru.  This dive site offers everything and is very popular.  We happen to be lucky this day and were the only dive boat out.  Everything was clear and awesome.

Armed aircraft ferry ship with a crew of 40 men. Sunk in Truk Lagoon
on February 17, 1944.   The wrecks of Truk Lagoon are war graves. Strict policies exist that prevent the removal of any artifacts or marine life from the wrecks. Fines and a possible jail sentence await those who disobey. The Trukese hope to preserve their lagoon as an underwater living monument and museum of the war.
 Fire gutted the interior of the boat before it sank after being struck by several torpedoes midship. This is one of the most beautiful wrecks on the islands, and takes several dives to see everything. The tips of the ship's masts break the surface, but her deck is at 70 feet and keel at 130 feet. The ship was transporting fighter aircraft, fuel and munitions, which did not explode when sunk.
 In 1974 a Japanese delegation placed a small shrine on top of the bridge with smooth rocks with the kanji characters on then and a glass case with the names of the crew members inside.
 A bow and stern mount defensive guns. The first hold contains the various types of machine gun ammunition, shells and weapons. The second hold contains the disassembled parts of several fighter aircraft. There are several A6M Zeros and an A5M4 Claude. Also, artillery shells, hundreds of 'Dai Nippon Beer' bottles, gas masks, and bombs. The third hold is empty. The last hold contains bottles.
Cindy my dive master and I decompressing and enjoying the beautiful views
 Truk Lagoon is a 40 mile wide lagoon surrounded by a fringing coral reef.

For more than two years after the war, oil from the sunken ships covered the beaches and reefs. Truk is the best wreck diving in the world overall because of the numerous wrecks and their preservation and beauty. Depths vary from the surface in excess of 200 feet
You can penetrate into the wrecks but you can't remove any artifacts. Caustic substances like high octane aviation fuel, oils, gasoline and acid exist on many of the wrecks. Explosives, mines, munitions, detonators, torpedoes and shells are still "live".

  Beautiful corral growing all over everything
  The corral and the fish were amazing and all kinds of beautiful colors
We all survived and had a wonderful day - the boat ride was the roughest part but hey, we are divers and we are supposed to be wet, right!  It was a wonderful day and a dream come true. We are so thankful for our Truk stop family and friends. The love and friendship we shared we will treasure for the rest of our lives.  

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