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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

 

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TekDive USA 2018

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

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