Palau – The Other Truk Lagoon

Palau is often overlooked as a wreck destination, partly due to its mighty  neighbour Truk lagoon, and indeed her own stunning marine life, walls sharks and Manta’s.But these wrecks are WW2 classics-here is a quick guide- a fully illustrated version is available to down load- FREE

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The Wrecks

Ijn Iro

470 Foot length, 58 foot beam Shiretoko Class Combined Fleet Oilier,14050ton, 470 x58x26 ft ,built 1922 Oakas. The Iro was attacked by aircraft from the Carrier Bunker Hill as part of Task Force 58, Operation Desecrate One, on March 30 and finished off the following day by aircraft from the Carrier Yorktown. She had been previously hit by a torpedo from the US Submarine Tunny on March 22, 1944 West of Palau.

The Iro sits in 125 feet of water with her starboard anchor straight down, in the  Western Lagoon. One of the best wrecks in Palau, there are so many area’s of the ship to explore including workshops, her engine room and accommodation areas. The wreck is covered in huge coral trees, and she attracts huge numbers of shoaling fish. Her decks are covered in huge coral formations and the pipe bridge has lattice work  framing running its full length .Coral covers these structures and provides an endless playground for the many species of fish living here. The size of the wreck requires  many dives to complete an exploration, and each dive reveals new  area’s to explore .Like most fleet tankers she has intricate pipe works and several pump houses run deep into her hull Hr exterior hull is draped in branching corals alive with invertebrates and very colorful  feather stars (crinoids)

Chuko Maru

Armed Cargo Ship, 1941 Ton, 272 x 40 x 17 built 1941 502 Foot length, 66 Foot beam She was attacked by aircraft from the Carrier  Enterprise as part of Task Force 58, Operation Desecrate One, on March 30 and finished off the later that day by aircraft from the same Carrier.

Today, the ship sits almost upright, her foremast and king posts standing proud and sporting vast branches of black coral, clams and soft corals. Although the hold are empty, her superstructure, raked by fire is skeletal and allows for easy  penetration, One  level below decks there are long corridors with rooms off to both sides –mess room , stores workshops can all be explored. The stern boasts a “short gun-4.7inch still on its mount, its shape still clear through the shroud of coral branches. Being only 270 ft long, she can easily be explored in one dive, but like most of these ships, each visit reveals new aspects, new area’s to explore. Her exterior is a  veritable blaze of color –feather stars decorating the coral branches, like baubles on a Christmas tree  provide a great photo subject..

Teshio Maru

Type 1C army cargo ship, 2840 tons 321 x44 x20 ft, built 1942

She was attacked by aircraft from the Carriers Bunker Hill and Belleau Wood  as part of Task Force 58, Operation Desecrate One, on March 30 and sunk a little over 5 miles north of the Malakal Harbor entrance west of Babeldaob.

This is a superb dive and offers perhaps the best conditions of all the wrecks.

She lies on her side, and the holds are empty. However her engine room, superstructure and aft shelter accommodation are well worth exploring. It is easy to swim through several floors of the superstructure and through to the engine room  and work shops. She does not appear as intact-due to her exposed position, but here are a great many swim through and she is worth several dives. She also boasts a bow gun covered in coral trees. Depths range from 6 to 25 mtrs.

Ijn Amatsu

Type 1 Tl Fleet Auxilary Tanker

10,567 tons,502 x 58 x30 ft  built 1`943Bombed by aircraft from Enterprise, she was hit by 2 1000 bombs and sank by the stern air trapped in her forward section kept her afloat for several months.

She sits upright on the seabed Main deck level is at 90ft with the superstructure rising up 3 storeys The superstructure is skeletal-allowing easy access and great swim through. She is a big upright wreck, and a catwalk runs from her center island superstructure aft to the engine house .bridging the two main areas of interest. The aft superstructure is flanked by companionways at deck level, overgrown with coral trees.Due to the light diver traffic they have remained intact

The pump houses descend several levels down, and offer a great photo opportunity. Both the center island and stern superstructures can be explored on at least 3 levels., while the exterior is ablaze with coral bushes of orange red and yellow, themselves decorated with colorful crinoids (feather stars)-.Sea squirts  cover many of the fittings, appearing a dull brown until illuminated by torch or strobe-then turning a vibrant red.

Ryuko Maru

Type 1C cargo steamship,2764 tons, 321 x 44 x20 ft,built 1942.

She was attacked by aircraft from the Carrier Lexington as part of Task Force 58, Operation Desecrate One, on March 30 and finished off the following day by aircraft from the Carrier Yorktown.Her final resting place is about 75 yards off Ngargol Island which forms the northern arm of Malakal Harbor.  Her bow is at 60 (18.2 Meters) feet and her stern at 85 feet (26 Meters)

Sitting upright in 125 ft of water, she usually affords good visibility, and has much to offer .Below decks there are many areas to explore, including a radio room, mess room and corridors leading to stores and general accommodation. The engine room is a confused tangled mess caused initially by the bombs but then later during salvage operations.

Nagisan Maru

Passenger (troop) cargo ship, 4391 tons motor ship, 362 x 50 x27 ft, built 1931 Tokyo.

She was attacked by aircraft from the Carrier Bunker Hill as part of Task Force 58, Operation Desecrate One, on March 30 an hour later aircraft from the carrier Belleau Wood attacked with no hits, and she was finished off the following day by aircraft from the Carrier Yorktown .

Helmet Wreck

This is  a  mystery ship .Little is known about her identity. Perhaps one day a registration plaque will reveal her identity, but to date she has kept her secrets from our The Helmet or Depth Charge Wreck or Helmet lays right side up in 55-100 feet of water, with her stern shallow and her bow deep(about 100 Feet There are aircraft engines, and many depth charges (That is why she is know as the depth Charge wreck). Her stern has several boxes of 3 plus inch diameter shells on the top deck along with many other artifacts.

Her final resting place is just inside Malakal Harbor near Pincher’s Lagoon and just south of Ngargol Island which forms the northern arm of Malakal Harbour. There is much to explore and the sloping attitude of the wreck allows for a nice curved profile-deco can be carried out around her stern gun. The Fo’c’sle, is worth exploring during at  the start of the dive, working shallower through her forward holds engine room and aft holds .The lamp room. If entered with care can produce some great images of her lamps partially buried in the silt.

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