Chuuk Lagoon

When you’re a WW II history buff AND you’re into diving, Chuuk lagoon (formerly known as Truk) is the place to go. It took me a good 18 hours to get there (from home to Hawaii, Hawaii to Guam, Guam to Chuuk). Hands down, it was my favorite diving trip ever.

On May 17th I boarded the diving boat Odyssey and started a 7 night trip. The skipper was an American, but a good part of the crew were locals with a few foreign nationals (Aussies and a few Europeans). The trip cost $2795 per person double occupancy plus airfare. I supposed I could have gotten a larger room, but I was saving for the next trip so this suited me just fine.

In terms of diving, you definitely get your money’s worth. The trip is 7 nights, with the 1st day all travel and two morning dives on the last day, returning on the 23rd. In between we typically had 5 dives a day, often two on the same wreck plus a night dive. All told, I did 21 dives.

Most but not all dives were on wrecks. Occasionally we’d see some WW II debris on the ocean floor and just putter around. But the really fun ones were wreck dives.

Of the wreck dives, most were penetration dives. Usually, we just lightly penetrated the outermost superstructure, usually the bridge or a hold that was wide open. But on a few occasions, we went deep inside the structure to places like the engine room – much farther than I’d ever penetrated a wreck before. It’s not for the faint of heart!

Luckily for me, I only got ‘lost’ once, when I turned around to take pictures only to learn that my diving buddy had already taken off. It was NOT a fun experience to find yourself all lonely in a wreck, but I just ‘followed the light’ and made my way out.

The majority of the wrecks were merchant marine ships, but we saw a handful of military vessels. We also had lunch on one of the islands – the sole time we went on land (outside of standing on a sandbar).

  • Kiyosumi Maru #1, military transport. Penetration dive. Bottom time 53 minutes, max depth 84 feet (18 May)
  • Kiyosumi Maru #2, penetration dive. Bottom time 54 minutes, max depth 90 feet (18 May)
  • Yamagiri Maru. Bottom time 55 minutes, mad depth 87 feet. (18 May). I think the video is from this dive.
  • Fumitzuki, destroyer. Bottom time 63 feet, max depth 113 feet (19 May)
  • Shinoku Maru #1, naval tanker. She is notable for participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. No penetration, just a look around the outside. Bottom time 43 minutes, max depth 123 feet. (19 May)
  • Shinoku Maru #2, bottom time 62 minutes, depth 70 feet. Penetration dive. (19 May)

I think this video was from this dive, but it’s hard to tell

  • Shinoku Maru #3, bottom time 44 minutes, depth 100 feet. Night dive. (19 May)
  • Unkai Maru. Bottom time 44 minutes, max depth 100 feet (20 May)
  • Fujikawa Maru #1. One of the most famous wrecks in the lagoon, in particular for the “R2D2” looking air compressor . Bottom time 51 minutes, max depth 104 feet (20 May)
  • Fujikawa Maru #2, bottom time 51 minutes, depth 104 feet (20 May)
  • Fijukawa Maru #3, bottom time 51 minutes, depth 107 feet (20 May)

Not sure if the 4th video is for the Fijukawa, but taking a good guess

  • Hoki Maru, transport. Famous for having a hold full of neat artifacts, including a truck. Bottom time 28 minutes, max depth 135 feet. (20 May)
  • Pizon Reef for a shark feed! Bottom time 53 minutes, max depth 81 feet (21 May)
  • Rio de Janerio Maru #1. Another famous wreck; bottom time 58 minutes, max depth 102 feet. (21 May)
  • Rio de Janeiro Maru #2, night dive into the engine room. Bottom time 53 feet, max depth 100 feet. (21 May)
  • Nippo Maru #1, passenger cargo ship. Bottom time 62 feet, max depth 123 feet. Lots of photo opportunities, including a Japanese tank in the cargo hold. (22 May)
  • Nippo Maru #2, bottom time 28 minutes, max depth 127 feet. (22 May)
  • Wreck of a “Betty” Mitsubishi attack plane. Bottom time 32 minutes, max depth 65 feet. (22 May)
  • Sankisan Maru. Bottom time 32 minutes, max depth 70 feet. (22 May)
  • Kensho Maru. Bottom time 46 minutes, max depth 111 feet. Famous for its engine room. (23 May)
  • Heian Maru. Bottom time 45 minutes, max depth 97 feet. (23 May).