The Nippo Maru was built in 1936 as a passenger and cargo freighter. The navy took her over in late 1941 and used her as a water transport. At Truk her role was to carry water from Dublon to some of the outlying islands where water was scarce. She now lies in 30 – 50 metres of water, listing to port.
There is a buoy attached to her bow. We dropped down this line on to the forecastle. Here there was a gun mount, and a large pair of binoculars. There was a huge Napoleon Wrasse swimming along the side of the ship. In hold #1 there were gas masks and a variety of small arms ammunition, along with some big 12cm shell casings. On the deck below the hold is a large truck chassis. The bodywork has rotted away. There is another on the seabed next to the ship.
Hold #2 contains several large water tanks, which look quite like modern 20ft containers. There is a light 2 man tank on the port side of the deck. We swam through 2 levels of superstructure. The top level had a wheel, binnacle and telegraph in excellent condition. Sadly the depth meant we then had to head back to the line on the bow. But we were accompanied by a school of barracuda and a school of jacks. And the inevitable blue fin trevally.
The Nippo Maru certainly lived up to my expectations. Hopefully it won’t be as long before I revisit her.
- Displacement: 3,673 tons
- Length: 352 feet
- Beam: 50 feet
- Engine: 1 coal / steam turbine
- Depth: 25 – 45 m.
- Depth: 37.2 m.
- Time: 49 minutes
- Gas: Air
Graphic courtesy of Captain Lance Higgs of S.S. Thorfinn.
Photos courtesy of Catheryn Chu.