The Sutsuki was originally a Momi Class destroyer and was built in the early 1920′s. They were fast, so despite their age, the Japanese decided that these destroyers would be useful for reinforcing Guadalcanal. At this time the Sutsuki was heavily damaged. Subsequently she was damaged again in a collision with a ship that tore off 80 foot of her bow. Apparently as a result she had to steam backwards for many miles to get to safety. She had a false bow fitted and was converted for use as a patrol boat. She was designated Patrol Boat 34 when she sank.
One source I read claimed that she was not damaged in the Hailstone attacks, but sank after a fire in July 1944. She now lies between 3 and 15 metres.
We did this as a night dive, and it was a really interesting dive. Trevor, Rita and myself were joined by David and Catheryn. Although strictly speaking we joined them as we dived from their RIB instead of our little fibre glass bucket.
There was a lot of soft coral on the wreck. The engine room was quite tight, with an entrance through a narrow skylight. It took David 2 attempts to find the right one on the way out. There was quite a lot of machinery scattered about. Back on deck there were depth charges, a winch, and a large sake bottle.
Note to buddies: Those powerful lights that many of us had on this trip were great, most of the time. But take your gauge/computer to the torch beam instead of the other way round, particularly on the safety stops when everyone is clustered together. That way you’re not waving a powerful light around in your buddies’ eyes. Also think about switching to a less powerful light on the stops.
Sutsuki Patrol Boat
- Displacement: 935 tons
- Length: 280 feet
- Beam: 26 feet
- Engine: 2 turbines
- Depth: 3 – 15 m.
- Depth:15.2 m.
- Time: 55 minutes
- Gas: Air
Graphic courtesy of Captain Lance Higgs of S.S. Thorfinn.