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Friday, October 01, 2010

Truk Lagoon

Josh claimed his underwater investigation of the Truk Lagoon in Micronesia was the first of its kind. However, it was not. The crew of the short lived A&E series Extreme Paranormal did an underwater investigation of Bonito, New Mexico. Perhaps it was the first investigation of Truk but not the first of its kind.

Truk Lagoon is a body of water in the central Pacific. Its first colonial experience was as part of the Spanish Empire. It fell in to Japanese possession under a mandate from the League of Nations following Germany's defeat in World War I. During World War II, Truk Lagoon served as the forward anchorage for the Japanese Imperial Fleet. The place was considered the most formidable of all Japanese strongholds in the Pacific. At anchor in the lagoon were the Imperial Japanese Navy’s giant battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, tankers, cargo ships, tugboats, gunboats, minesweepers, landing craft, and submarines.

Once the American forces captured the Marshall Islands, they used it as a base from which to launch an early morning attack on February 17, 1944 against Truk Lagoon. Operation Hailstone lasted for three days, with an American bombardment of the Japanese wiping out almost anything of value - 60 ships and 275 airplanes were sent to the bottom of the lagoon. Three of these ships were Shinkoku Maru, Hoki Maru, and Fujikawa Maru.

The second largest wreck in Truk Lagoon is the 10,020 ton oil tanker Shinkoku Maru. It was completed on December 13, 1939 by Kawashi Jyuko Co. of Kobe for Kobe Sanbashi K.K. It was 492.12 feet long and 65.6 feet wide and was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy in 1941, four weeks before Pearl Harbor. The Shinkoku Maru was one of eight oil tankers that refueled the Japanese fleet prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was at night of the second day when the tanker was hit during Operation Hailstone. The Avengers of the USS Enterprise dropped a close miss on the starboard side near the engine room and opened the hull, sinking it. The ships masts originally stuck up out of the water but they were blown off at some time. The ship was "discovered" by divers in December 1971. The Shinkoku Maru is still leaking oil 70 years after it sank. Luckily, the oil is very light and evaporates within minutes of hitting the surface of the water.

Originally built as the MV Hauraki, the ship was constructed by William Denny & Brothers at Dumbarton in Scotland. She was launched on November 28, 1921 and displaced 7,113 tons gross and was 450.3 feet long and just under 58.2 feet wide. The new ship was powered by two eight cylinder North British Diesel Engine Works diesel engines, first of its kind. She entered service on May 13, 1922. She was primarily a cargo vessel but had accommodation for 12 passengers.

In 1940, the Hauraki was requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport for "special services". On July 12, 1942, the MV Hauraki was ambushed by the armed merchant cruisers Hokoku Maru and Aikoku Maru and captured and taken to Singapore. On December 31, 1942 the MV Hauraki was renamed Hoki Maru and designated as a special transport. On the morning of February 17, 1944 the Hoki Maru was anchored to the east of Etan Island in Truk Lagoon. She was attacked several times before being torpedoed by an Avenger from USS Bunker Hill. The torpedo hit the port side and the fuel oil, petrol and diesel she was carrying in drums ignited and set the front of the vessel alight. The ship was discovered and then lost before being rediscovered in 1980. The Hoki Maru is believed to be the most haunted shipwreck.

The Fujikawa Maru was built as a passenger-cargo ship by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry at Nagasaki. Construction began on October 20, 1937 and launched on April 15, 1938 for Toyo Kaiun KK. The new vessel displaced 6,938 tons and it was 435 feet long and 58.4 feet wide. She had a single diesel engine of 840 nhp driving a single propeller. On July 1, 1938, the Fujikawa Maru was completed and placed in service with Toyo Kaiun on the Japan/North American run. She carried passengers and cargoes of raw silk, cotton, jute and flax. On December 9, 1940, it was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Navy and converted to an armed auxilary aircraft transport on December 18, 1940. On 17 February 1944, planes from USS Bunker Hill and Monterrey attacked the Fujikawa Maru and in strike 3E-1 two torpedoes were dropped. One hit just rear of the funnel on the starboard side. The ship did not sink immediately. It didn't sink until the next morning. The most paranormal reports come from the Fujikawa Maru including the sounds of engines starting.

2 comments:

Adsila said...

He may not have been the first but it was a cool and very creepy place to investigate. The sharks would have kept me away.

Pangs said...

It was fun to watch. However, having been diving, I can't imagine it would be productive from an investigative perspective. Shadows and goofy sounds are the norm in those conditions.

 

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