Amazing wreck dive experience this week on the Truk Siren!

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Amazing wreck dive experience this week on the Truk Siren!

It’s been over a year since I last set foot on one of the Siren fleets vessels but I’m back again, this time in my dream destination. Truk Lagoon!
Thankfully I was eased gently back into live a board life as my first trip as acting Cruise director had only three guests on-board! Our well-seasoned divers arrived ready to get straight into the action. Getting through our briefings quickly we did our check out dive on the biggest intact wreck in the lagoon, the Heian Maru. This 510ft submarine tender sank on its port side, making a vertical wall of its huge deck area to explore. You could literally dive a whole week on this wreck and still not explore every corner and see every treasure it has to offer.

The Heians cargo speaks of its past with its forward hold stuffed with long lance torpedoes. The counter rotating propellers still intact, many of which point upward from the position from which they slid when the wreck listed and sank beneath the waves over 70 years ago.

FUJIKAWA-bow-gun-Super-Jolly - lrThe diving is something very special here in Truk and at this early stage it’s hard to decide what is better out of a great selection. Day three of our trip saw us dive a wreck famed for being one of Kimiuo Aisek (the godfather of Truk diving) favourite wreck to dive on. I think it will most certainly become one of mine too. The Fujikawa is fitted with an ancient breach loaded Bow gun. The guns plaque, rubbed clean from marine grown by divers fingers still tells us clearly that it is a British built weapon produced in 1899, likely a remnant of the Japanese Russian war of that period.

A great way to dive the Fujikawa is to head straight to the starboard side, the way she sits upright on the sea bed makes the gaping torpedo hole in her aft holds accessible. The sheer power of the explosion has bent and twisted the steel girder supports as if they were wire coat hangers. It is truly awe inspiring to witness this destruction frozen in time. A midday dive here has the equatorial sun shining straight down through hold number 5 making the clear water a pale blue and casting shadows as you pass into the belly of the ship.

TRUK 2009 UW - NIPPO MARU - 010The Nippo Maru was used during war time to supply remote Japanese military strongholds on the pacific islands with fresh water. An uninteresting cargo for divers you might think. On the deck of this almost completely intact behemoth though sits some fascinating military hardware. Three howitzer guns sit aft and a brilliantly preserved three man tank sits on the port deck forward of the bridge superstructure. The Nippo is a deep dive for recreational divers so a lot of time is spent on the masts ascending to the surface. We conducted our safe slow ascent here looking at the macro on the coral encrusted masts while glancing out to catch sightings of a huge school of jacks and a lone eagle ray eying us from afar.

On day five we only dived on one wreck. However we did dive it four times and for me we could have dived it four more! The Shinkoku Maru Is a 10,000 tonne merchant tanker. Its main stern and bow decks have suspended gangways running over them for when the ship was fully laden and would sit so low in the water that rough seas could easily rush over the decks, catching unwary seaman by surprise. These gangways now only serve as a base from which a myriad of colourful soft corals grow from. Our keen and talented photographer Mike Scotland spent most of his dive time here framing divers with the beautiful coral growth.

martin-sank-reThe wrecks are beautiful here, the tides have washed away the polluting oil and time has healed the pain caused by so much wasted life. The sad history remains though and our dive on the I169 Submarine really brought this home to me this trip. 30 Submariners perished here in April 1944 when, while evading allied attack its Japanese crew dived to the sandy ocean floor, forgetting only to close the conning tower hatch. While managing to escape to the stern and bow airlocks the crew were unable to re float her. It was 3 days until divers trying to rescue them heard their tapping on the hull grow fainter and finally stop altogether.

Truk offers something completely unique in my eyes. The wrecks here have had little to no salvage done on them. Those two frightful days in February 1944 are frozen here in time, a reminder to all who see them of the sheers magnitude of what happened.

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