Shinkoku Maru Wreck in Truk Lagoon

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Shinkoku Maru

My favorite wreck in the Lagoon, the Shinkoku Maru, has become a fantastically beautiful artificial reef. Pink and purple anemones can be found all over the top deck and schools of fish, big and small, have populated the ship. Sitting between 9 and 40m (30-135ft) the 152m (500ft) Commercial tanker was built in 1940 and before the war transported oil from the USA to Japan. Its name meaning “Divine country” It was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy into a naval tanker in 1941. She participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Minor damage to the Shinkoku occurred on August 17, 1942 when the ship was torpedoed by the US Submarine Gudgeon and was repaired. Arriving to Truk only three days before the carrier strikes on February 14, 1944, it is thought she received a bomb hit amidships by Yorktown planes, but she did not sink until an unknown air group stuck the ship with a torpedo attack later in the day. Planes from Bunker Hill made six torpedo drops that all missed.

Sinking upright, the masts used to be above the water line, but due to possible boat traffic hazards, they were toppled by explosives. The ship was identified by the ship’s bell that was found with the name engraved.

Beautiful Wildlife on the Shinkoku Maru. (Credits: Argunners)

Beautiful Wildlife on the Shinkoku Maru. (Credits: Argunners)

Medical Kit of the Shinkoku Maru (Credits: Brandi Mueller)

Medical Kit of the Shinkoku Maru (Credits: Argunners)

With the super structure of the Fujikawa Maru collapsing, it’s my opinion that the engine room tour of the Shinkoku is probably now the best in the Lagoon. My dive guide took me into the ship through the smoke stacks that start around 18m (60ft). Headed straight down to around 33m (110ft) you can exit the ship through the torpedo hole at 41m (135ft) in the bottom port stern. We came out the torpedo hole and looked up at the massive ship and went back in through the hole to tour the engine room, generator rooms and other areas inside the wreck.

Along with the fantastic penetration, this ship has prolific and abundant marine life. Schools of batfish are found along the top deck and several sharks were seen passing the ship. With the superstructure being fairly shallow and so much marine life and abundant artifacts gathered on the deck, this wreck definitely needs several dives to see all of it.

Artifact of the Shinkoku Maru (Credits: Brandi Mueller)

Artifact of the Shinkoku Maru (Credits: Argunners)

Read also:

  • Shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon, list with all known shipwrecks in Chuuk.
  • Ship graveyard in Truk Lagoon, stunning pictures and informative article on the Ghost Fleet of Chuuk.
  • Airplane wrecks in Truk Lagoon, next to dozens of Japanese vessels also Japanese airplane wrecks can be found in Chuuk Lagoon.
  • Nippo Maru, (aka Nichiho Maru) was torpedoed and sunk in the Balabac Strait west of the Palawan Passage.
  • San Fransico Maru, sunk on the 18th of February, 1944 taking 5 crewmen with her.
  • Rio de Janeiro Maru, bombed and damaged in the Pacific Ocean east of Umon Island, Truk by United States Navy aircraft. She sank the next day.
  • Heian Maru, ocean liner converted into a submarine tender, sunk in February 1944.
  • Kiyosumi Maru, auxiliary cruiser which was sunk in the Pacific Ocean off Fefan Island, Truk by United States Navy aircraft.
  • Yamagiri Maru, sank by dive bombers from the Yorktown and Bunker Hill.
  • Fujikawa Maru, she was sunk on February 18, 1944 by diver bombers.
  • Fumitsuki Destroyer, one of only two made-for-war ships sunk in Chuuk.
  • Hoki Maru, a British/New Zealand cargo and passenger ship launched in 1921 and seized by the Japanese in 1942. Sunk.

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Argunners Magazine is an independent online historian and collector's magazine, dedicated to the militaria and history of both Axis and Allied powers during the World War 1 & 2. Argunners is a central resource offering the latest militaria and war history news, journals, articles and press releases related to these themes.

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