Kiyosumi Maru in 1934 (Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Kiyosumi Maru Shipwreck in Truk Lagoon

Kiyosumi Maru Wreck

Stepping off the Odyessy and descending upon our first wreck, the Kiyosumi Maru, feels like entering another world. The intact ship body, sitting 12m (40ft) below the warm Micronesian waters starts to bring to life the battle that took place here. In Japanese, maru, means circle or round. This name is given to ships that circle back to where they came from. The warships did not have that distinction, as they were sent into battle, not expected to return. The Kiyosumi Maru was a 137m (450ft) long and 18m (6ft) wide freighter that also carried passengers launched in 1934 and converted into an armed merchant raider in 1941. She participated in the Battle of Midway and had been towed to Truk for repairs after being damaged by aircraft bombs.

Sunk on her port side, laying in the sand at 31m (100ft), we swam the length of the ship and eventually entered hold #2 through the hole caused by the bomb that sank the ship. Covered in growth, particularly long branched bushes of black coral, jellyfish seemed to be strategically placed around the outside of the ship as if they guarded it. Originally holding eight guns, all have been removed, but the platforms remain. Our dive guide led us into hold #5 to see parts of two bikes and then hold #6 to see two massive spare propeller blades. Collections of bottles found inside the ship have been gathered in several places on the outside for divers to see. We also came upon a gas mask that almost looks like you could put it on and use it today.

She was sunk in Truk Lagoon on February 17, 1944 when USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown planes scored direct bomb hits. 43 seamen lost their lives on the Kiyosumi Maru.

Photographs of the Kiyosumi Maru Wreck:

inside the Kiyosumi Maru. (Credits: Brandi Mueller)
Inside the Kiyosumi Maru. (Credits: Argunners)
Gasmask found in the Kiyosumi Maru. (Credits: Brandi Mueller)
Gasmask found in the Kiyosumi Maru. (Credits: Argunners)
Lantern Room of the Kiyosumi Maru. (Credits: Argunners)
Lantern Room of the Kiyosumi Maru. (Credits: Argunners)

Read also:

  • Shipwrecks of Truk Lagoon, list with all known shipwrecks in Chuuk.
  • Ship graveyard in Truk Lagoon, stunning pictures and informative article on the Ghost Fleet of Chuuk.
  • Airplane wrecks in Truk Lagoon, next to dozens of Japanese vessels also Japanese airplane wrecks can be found in Chuuk Lagoon.
  • Nippo Maru, (aka Nichiho Maru) was torpedoed and sunk in the Balabac Strait west of the Palawan Passage.
  • San Fransico Maru, sunk on the 18th of February, 1944 taking 5 crewmen with her.
  • Rio de Janeiro Maru, bombed and damaged in the Pacific Ocean east of Umon Island, Truk by United States Navy aircraft. She sank the next day.
  • Heian Maru, ocean liner converted into a submarine tender, sunk in February 1944.
  • Yamagiri Maru, sank by dive bombers from the Yorktown and Bunker Hill.
  • Fujikawa Maru, she was sunk on February 18, 1944 by diver bombers.
  • Fumitsuki Destroyer, one of only two made-for-war ships sunk in Chuuk.
  • Shinkoku Maru, naval tanker that was sunk in February, 1944.
  • Hoki Maru, a British/New Zealand cargo and passenger ship launched in 1921 and seized by the Japanese in 1942. Sunk.


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