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Chuuk Marks 70th Anniversary of “Operation Hailstone”, WWII Battle That Left Legacy of Underwater Monuments Beneath the Lagoon

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Last week, Chuuk State marked the 70th anniversary of a World War Two battle that put the Micronesian archipelago in the history books and left a legacy of underwater monuments that have attracted scuba divers from throughout the world.

70 years ago, on February 17 1944,  carrier based American fighters and bombers launched “Operation Hailstone”,  an attack on the Japanese fleet in what was then called the Truk Lagoon.

It was a major Japanese naval and supply base. After 2 days of bombings, Japan’s 4th Imperial Fleet was destroyed.   U.S. forces sank 12 Japanese warships and 32 merchant vessels,  as well as downing 275 Japanese aircraft.

In the process, they transformed Chuuk Lagoon into the biggest graveyard of ships in the world.

Last week, Chuuk State marked the anniversary of that battle, which is an often forgotten chapter in chronicles of the Pacific war.

Japan’s ambassador to the FSM, FSM President Manny Mori and the U.S. Ambassador to the FSM were on hand as “Wreath of Peace” was laid on the waters above the wreckage at the bottom of the Chuuk Lagoon.

Dianne Strong is a retired UOG professor and a writer, who is in Chuuk this week for the event.

“Truk is the forgotten battle of World War II,” said Strong explaining that “there was no amphibious followup. It was an aerial attack that lasted 2 days, February 17th and 18th 1944. You go to museums all around the world, take a look at the Pacific history, Truk is never mentioned.”

But she says, the people of Chuuk haven’t forgotten “because they have the underwater legacy of all those sunken ships.”

Roughly 29 Americans died during the battle, a negligible loss compared to bloody battles else where which claimed thousands of U.S. servicemen.

But Strong points out that it was a significant strategic victory, which paved the way for the invasions of Saipan, Tinian and Guam. The battle was an important “stepping stone on the way to Tokyo.”

Today, the lagoon is an underwater museum of historic ships and airplanes.

“Beautiful artificial reefs that are 70 years old”, said Strong. “The airplanes, the “Emily Bomber”, the “Betty Bomber”, ships, a destroyer,  just beautiful reefs. So I love, not just the history, but these beautiful artificial reefs. We call them ship reefs.”

Strong is the author of  “Witness to War”, a recently published book on the late Kimiuo Aisek who, as a 17 year old Chuukese youth watched the attack that sent the Japanese fleet to the bottom and later made it his life’s work to lead divers from around the world in the exploration of the wreckage of war at the bottom of the Chuuk Lagoon.

“From tragedy can come beauty”, says Strong.  And Kimiuo Aisek helped bring attention to the beauty left at the bottom of the Lagoon in the wake of the  battle.

Kimiuo’s legacy, says Strong,  is the opportunity he created for his people.

“The Truk Continental Hotel, which was purchased by him, is now the Blue Lagoon resort, the Blue Lagoon dive shop.  And his memorial museum which is going up .. more than 130 people are employed in these enterprises. They’re not going to Guam. They’re staying home, making minimum wage and living their lives in their home.”

“I hope people realize that there are Chuukese that can succeed wherever they are and that we should honor Chuukese.”

Kimiuo died in 2001 at the age of 73.

 

Source: www.pacificnewscenter.com

Dive Training Blogs

Jump into… IDC’s and what to expect

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Looking at becoming a PADI Instructor? Why would you not, it is the best job in the world! Getting to become a PADI Instructor though is sometimes a scary process… or so I have heard…. It really isn’t, trust me! It’s actually pretty fun. 

The first thing I always like to get people to remember is their Open water course. When you started did you know everything about how the equipment worked? Did your instructor expect you to know all of the skills before they showed you them? No? Well, guess what, the IDC is a course too. It is about preparing you and working with you to give you the tips and tricks to not just pass your Instructor Examination (IE), but to prepare you for teaching your own students. 

I am well aware that there are courses out there that just teach you how to pass, and I am by far not saying that I have the best IDC in the world. I don’t, and I learn all of the time myself. There’s always an instructor that comes along in the dive season doing something a different way that I pick up and use. We learn all of the time, and is the only way that we ever get better. So to clear up that misconception, the IDC is not just a stepping stone to the IE and you are not expected to know everything before you come along. 

So, what does the IDC actually involve. Theory… obviously. You are going to need to have a knowledge of physics, RDP and all of the other topics that you will have covered throughout you diving levels. The theory side is the ‘boring’ part… I mean, we all dive for the water, no?! But, it is an important part and it’s going to help you be able to explain how to use the equipment, how it actually works, and the other questions that your students are going to be curious about. This section is all about developing your knowledge of those sections.

The water side then, confined water and open water. The fun parts! In short this is where we are going to go through the course skills and see how everyone does them. There is no perfect way for this… you do not have to play Simon says on the course… your way may be better than everyone else! What we will do though, is work with you to make sure that the demonstration is clear, concise and controlled to demonstrate to your students. Again, there is no expectation to be perfect before you come. We want you to ask questions, we want you to make mistakes… because that is how we learn, and most of all, how we get better. 

The other part of the in water activities, aren’t just about the skills though, it is also about your control under the water. We want to make sure that when you head out with your own students, that you are comfortable and can control the situation. Not something that comes to us all naturally straight away, but with coaching on the IDC, I am sure that you will get to this point before the end!

Last but not least, the course standards, content and rescue scenarios. All of this is in place to make sure that you understand the syllabus for each of the courses that you are going to be able to teach, and just as importantly, you are able to effect a rescue if the situation ever presented itself. A gloomy but important situation to think about. 

And after all that… voila! Thats it, the IDC! After completion there is then the ‘scary’ IE with the PADI examiners… they aren’t actually that scary, I promise! The two day IE basically covers what you have learnt in the IDC. No surprises, you are assessed on exactly what you have covered.

So stop putting off your IDC. If you love scuba and want to make it your career. Do it! 


Clare began Duttons Divers at just 19 years old and a short while later became one of the world’s youngest PADI Course Directors. Find out more at www.duttonsdivers.com

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Final few days to enter the OrcaTorch Search for Atlantis photo competition

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You have until the 1st June to enter this unique underwater photography competition that only allows images that depict cave or wreck diving. This unique competition encourages underwater photographers to get creative with their lighting and will be judged by a team of OrcaTorch Brand Ambassadors.

After the final round of entries this week, the competition will move to the second phase where the public can vote for their favourite images, via the OrcaTorch Facebook group, to narrow the field down to the final 10 for the judges to deliberate on.

OrcaTorch are offering a range of their diving lights as prizes for the winners.

For more information about the rules and how to enter the competition click here.

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Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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