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2 October 2017. Video of unidentified auxiliary sub chaser at Palau released

A mystery shipwreck.

In WWII, the Japanese Navy requisitioned a number of smaller vessels, such as trawlers and whalers, for war use. These were fitted out with a bow gun and anti submarine warfare equipment such as sonar, depth charges, paravanes. These small vessels were slow, feebly armed and were only suitable for coastal work, patrols, inshore convoy escort. 

Operation Desecrate 1 - 30/31 March 1944.
As U.S. Task Force 58 closed on Palau, the 12 carrier strong battle group with its screen of battleships, cruisers, submarines and destroyers was spotted. TF 58 abandoned its clandestine approach and increased speed to head directly for Palau - to give the Japanese defenders as little time to prepare as possible. 
In Palau, a large convoy of naval transports was formed up - and on the morning of 30 March it began to move up the west side of the islands of Palau, to try and escape the lagoon through West Pass before the American attacked.
They were too late - as U.S. aircraft swooped from the skies, a few of the van of destroyer escorts had successfully moved through West Pass into open water, but the large transport ships were all caught inside the lagoon and attacked. 
All would be sunk.
In about 2014/15 the wreck of a small vessel was found near the entrance to West Pass in 50msw. It had only been dived once before (when it was found) before we were taken to dive it by Sam's Tours whilst I was researching for Dive Palau - the Shipwrecks. It became clear to me that this was an auxiliary sub chaser and my research flagged up a likely ID as Showa Maru No 5 - formerly the whaler Galicia, built in 1924.
When we went to print with Dive Palau, I gave Showa Maru No 5 as my best guess for its ID - but highlighted that there were a number of other Japanese requisitioned whalers sunk at Palau, whose identities are not clear. I gave the cylinder head sizes recorded at Lloyds for her triple expansion engine and suggested in Dive Palau that someone should go measure them, as that can be a way of ruling in or out an ID of a vessel. 
When I went back to Palau last year, to launch the book at Sam's Tours, we went back to this wreck. Chris Rowland and I measured the beam - and this coincides with Lloyds' beam measurement.
However ..... when we measured the cylinder heads they did not agree with the Lloyds records. The means either the wreck is not Showa Maru No 5 - or that she was re-engined when she was requisitioned and her old 1924 engine changed out for a more modern engine. 
So, the jury is still out on this wreck until some clincher is found for her ID.
Here's a short video I shot of the wreck on our first dive on it in 2015 with Paul Haynes, Gary Petrie, Mike Gerken and Paul Collins - hope you enjoy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEwaE0IZ7Bc

 
28 September 2017. Aikoku Maru, Truk Lagoon, dive video released

The 10,500 ton, 492-feet long passenger cargo liner Aikoku Maru was built in 1940 and requisitioned for war use as an auxiliary transport by Japan in 1941 shortly before the Pearl Harbor raid.  

On the morning of 17 February 1944, she was at anchor in Truk Lagoon, her foredeck holds filled with munitions whilst her aft holds held some 730 Imperial Japanese Army troops in makeshift billets. 

U.S. Task Force 58 aircraft attacked her during the 1st day of Operation Hailstone. She took an aerial torpedo hit from a Grumman Avenger in Hold No 1, which caused a massive secondary detonation of the munitions stored there. 
The front section of the ship was vapourised all the way aft to the smokestack. The aft section of the ship sank into 65 metres of water. 

All but one of the 730 troops and crew were killed.

I've added a 20 minute tour of the wreck that I did whilst researching for Dive Truk Lagoon - the Japanese WWII Pacific Shipwrecks to my YouTube wreck diving channel. 

 I've purposely not added a dodgy soundtrack that some would like and others cringe at - so if you want to hear something other than my breathing and shouted notes to myself as I swim around, switch on your own sounds!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcFdA8Z3nrE

 
29 June 2017. Dive Scapa Flow Centenary edition is published

My advance copy of the Centenary 6th edition of Dive Scapa Flow has now arrived - I have it in my hands and it is a beautiful, stunning production by Whittles. I am blown away by it - it is my best book yet!

The book is designed to reflect the many 100th anniversary dates that are popping up at Scapa Flow just now, from the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, to the loss of the Hampshire, the loss of the Vanguard, the arrival of the German High Seas Fleet for internment at Scapa Flow and culminating in the 100th anniversary of the famous scuttle of the High Seas Fleet on 21 June 1919. 

The 1st edition of this book was published in 1990 - and went through 5 editions over the course of the next 20 yeras. This classic book has now been given a full 21st century makeover with new text, new photos from MV Halton skipper Bob Anderson, new wreck scans from Chris Rowland and new labelled wreck illustrations by Rob Ward.I love it and cant stop reading it!

Hopefully this edition in 2017 will be good for the next 10-20 years!

 
TekDive USA 2018

Short video invitation for TekDive USA on 27-29 April 2018 in Florida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsWjRTibGEc

 
Blog
2 October 2017. Video of unidentified auxiliary sub chaser at Palau released

A mystery shipwreck.

In WWII, the Japanese Navy requisitioned a number of smaller vessels, such as trawlers and whalers, for war use. These were fitted out with a bow gun and anti submarine warfare equipment such as sonar, depth charges, paravanes. These small vessels were slow, feebly armed and were only suitable for coastal work, patrols, inshore convoy escort. 

Operation Desecrate 1 - 30/31 March 1944.
As U.S. Task Force 58 closed on Palau, the 12 carrier strong battle group with its screen of battleships, cruisers, submarines and destroyers was spotted. TF 58 abandoned its clandestine approach and increased speed to head directly for Palau - to give the Japanese defenders as little time to prepare as possible. 
In Palau, a large convoy of naval transports was formed up - and on the morning of 30 March it began to move up the west side of the islands of Palau, to try and escape the lagoon through West Pass before the American attacked.
They were too late - as U.S. aircraft swooped from the skies, a few of the van of destroyer escorts had successfully moved through West Pass into open water, but the large transport ships were all caught inside the lagoon and attacked. 
All would be sunk.
In about 2014/15 the wreck of a small vessel was found near the entrance to West Pass in 50msw. It had only been dived once before (when it was found) before we were taken to dive it by Sam's Tours whilst I was researching for Dive Palau - the Shipwrecks. It became clear to me that this was an auxiliary sub chaser and my research flagged up a likely ID as Showa Maru No 5 - formerly the whaler Galicia, built in 1924.
When we went to print with Dive Palau, I gave Showa Maru No 5 as my best guess for its ID - but highlighted that there were a number of other Japanese requisitioned whalers sunk at Palau, whose identities are not clear. I gave the cylinder head sizes recorded at Lloyds for her triple expansion engine and suggested in Dive Palau that someone should go measure them, as that can be a way of ruling in or out an ID of a vessel. 
When I went back to Palau last year, to launch the book at Sam's Tours, we went back to this wreck. Chris Rowland and I measured the beam - and this coincides with Lloyds' beam measurement.
However ..... when we measured the cylinder heads they did not agree with the Lloyds records. The means either the wreck is not Showa Maru No 5 - or that she was re-engined when she was requisitioned and her old 1924 engine changed out for a more modern engine. 
So, the jury is still out on this wreck until some clincher is found for her ID.
Here's a short video I shot of the wreck on our first dive on it in 2015 with Paul Haynes, Gary Petrie, Mike Gerken and Paul Collins - hope you enjoy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEwaE0IZ7Bc

 
28 September 2017. Aikoku Maru, Truk Lagoon, dive video released

The 10,500 ton, 492-feet long passenger cargo liner Aikoku Maru was built in 1940 and requisitioned for war use as an auxiliary transport by Japan in 1941 shortly before the Pearl Harbor raid.  

On the morning of 17 February 1944, she was at anchor in Truk Lagoon, her foredeck holds filled with munitions whilst her aft holds held some 730 Imperial Japanese Army troops in makeshift billets. 

U.S. Task Force 58 aircraft attacked her during the 1st day of Operation Hailstone. She took an aerial torpedo hit from a Grumman Avenger in Hold No 1, which caused a massive secondary detonation of the munitions stored there. 
The front section of the ship was vapourised all the way aft to the smokestack. The aft section of the ship sank into 65 metres of water. 

All but one of the 730 troops and crew were killed.

I've added a 20 minute tour of the wreck that I did whilst researching for Dive Truk Lagoon - the Japanese WWII Pacific Shipwrecks to my YouTube wreck diving channel. 

 I've purposely not added a dodgy soundtrack that some would like and others cringe at - so if you want to hear something other than my breathing and shouted notes to myself as I swim around, switch on your own sounds!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcFdA8Z3nrE

 
29 June 2017. Dive Scapa Flow Centenary edition is published

My advance copy of the Centenary 6th edition of Dive Scapa Flow has now arrived - I have it in my hands and it is a beautiful, stunning production by Whittles. I am blown away by it - it is my best book yet!

The book is designed to reflect the many 100th anniversary dates that are popping up at Scapa Flow just now, from the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, to the loss of the Hampshire, the loss of the Vanguard, the arrival of the German High Seas Fleet for internment at Scapa Flow and culminating in the 100th anniversary of the famous scuttle of the High Seas Fleet on 21 June 1919. 

The 1st edition of this book was published in 1990 - and went through 5 editions over the course of the next 20 yeras. This classic book has now been given a full 21st century makeover with new text, new photos from MV Halton skipper Bob Anderson, new wreck scans from Chris Rowland and new labelled wreck illustrations by Rob Ward.I love it and cant stop reading it!

Hopefully this edition in 2017 will be good for the next 10-20 years!

 
TekDive USA 2018

Short video invitation for TekDive USA on 27-29 April 2018 in Florida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsWjRTibGEc

 
TekDive USA. 27-29 April 2018, Florida

Looking forward to presenting about the loss fo HMS Hampshire to a mine laid by U75 off NW Orkney in June 1916 at TekDive USA at the Wyndham Orlando International Drive Resort in Florida next April. Kilt perhaps??

 
The Jake seaplane wreck - Palau

This week's addition to my YouTube wreck diving channel is the Japanese Aichi E13A long range reconnaisance seaplane - Allied reporting name JAKE - which lies just outside Malakal Harbor, Palau.

Aichi E13A's were used throughout the Pacific War for coastal patrols and strikes against Allied transports - and near war's end for kamikaze missions.

vhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d8pARh8WH0&t=5s

 
5 June 2017. Dive Scapa Flow Centenary edition

The long awaited Centenary edition of Dive Scapa Flow is to be published in just a few weeks on 23 June.

Completely rewritten, it includes recently found wrecks and has new annotated wreck illustrations to show divers what they can expect to see. Cutting edge scans of the main wrecks by Prof Chris Rowland, the Director of the 3DVisLab at the University of Dundee are the most intricate and detailed scans of the Scapa Flow wrecks to date and are simply breathtaking. Some wonderful photography from MV Halton skipper Bob Anderson finishes the book off.

If you want a signed copy of the 1st Centenary print run for cost + P&P, get hold of me through the Contact page and I will get you squared away. 

 
12 May 2017. Heian Maru & IJN Oite, Truk Lagoon - new videos added to my YouTube channel

I've been playing around at editing the mountains of video I shot in Truk and Palau whilst researching and writing Dive Truk Lagoon and Dive Palau. I've posted cut videos of diving the IJN destroyer Oite and the Sixth Fleet submarine depot ship Heian Maru.

Read more... [12 May 2017. Heian Maru & IJN Oite, Truk Lagoon - new videos added to my YouTube channel]
 
4 May 2017. Wreck diving YouTube Channel launched

I've launched a new wreck diving You Tube channel featuring short video clips of my own footage from some of the great wreck  centres I'vr explored - such as Truk LAgoon, Palau, Guadalcanal and Scapa Flow. I've annotated as appropriated so you know what you are looking at and I intend to add about one a week when I'm not away diving and set up playlists for each location so if you're planning a trip you can get a flavour of what its like in advance. 

Read more... [4 May 2017. Wreck diving YouTube Channel launched]
 
24 April 2017. Dive Scapa Flow publication delayed by 1 month.

It's my fault really!! The contract with my publishers Whittles provided for a 220 page book. By the time I'd finished it and done justice to Scapa Flow it has come in at 360 pages! This has in turn meant a longer editing and design process - before the files get sent for printing an dsubsequen tdsitribution of th ebound volumes. We have simply run out of time to meet the provisionally intended publication date of 28 May so to take the heat off we are letting publication slip by about 1 month. No point rushing it.

 
7 April 2017 - Guadalcanal

Just back from presenting about HMS Hampshire at OZTek in Sydney and a week's diving directly after with Tulagi Dive up in Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Interesting WWII wreck diving with some incredibly well preserved aircraft - particularly a Catalina PBY flying boat and a Japanese Kawanishi fluying boat - Allied reporting name MAVIS

 
13 Feb 2017. Dive Scapa Flow Centenary edition.

Its been a lot of work but the manuscript for the Centenary edition has now completed its edit process. Huge thanks to my brilliant editor Caroline Petherick for spotting my howlers (hopefully all of them!!) and tidying everything up.The book is now looking great - its been fully expanded to about 150,000 words and will be a big book - packed full of information that just wasn't around when I wrote it the first time round. The only thing that remains the same is the title!

The launch has now been set for Thursday 18 May at the Royal Hotel in Stromness - looking forward to it already!

 
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