Taking on Truk: The Nippo Maru (Watch Video)


In the last of three videos from their recent trip to Truk Lagoon, Richard and Hayley from Black Manta Photography share this incredible footage of the wreck of the Nippo Maru.

If you’ve ever penetrated a wreck you’ll know at times it’s easy to become disorientated – especially if the wreck laying at the bottom of the ocean is on its side. What feels like ascending to the surface and seeing your depth gauge reduce, can actually mean heading down a corridor to find there’s no exit.

Fortunately this isn’t the case with the Nippo Maru as she sits with only a 20 degree list to her port side, although in all honesty, when we were in the bridge with open widows all around us to view the engine telegraph, that very slight tilt did provide a slight sense of drunkenness. You’re level in the water and it feels like the rusting metal underneath you is too – but it isn’t, and you find yourself swimming at an angle to compensate (or was it just me??)

Built in 1936, the Nippo Maru served life as a cargo ship initially transporting bananas from Taiwan until she was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy in August of 1941 and used as a water carrier.

The Nippo Maru had only been in Truk Lagoon for 7 days when the Allied Forces attacked during ‘Operation Hailstone’. She was hit with three 500lb bombs around the stern area, and came to rest in 44-50m of water, so not one for the recreational single tanks divers!

Despite her 74 years at the bottom of the lagoon, she still has a number of treasure to be discovered from wheelchairs, hospital beds and beer bottles right through to the 3-man Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go light tank weighing in at 10 tons still found on the port side of her deck.

There are plenty of artillery shells, and boxes of small arms ammunitions that litter the holds, along with hemispherical beach mines, but it’s the poignant reminder of the devastation that war brings with the well laid out gas masks – someone at some point would have worn that to cover their face. Quite hard hitting when you see with your own eyes.

Out on the deck at around 30m are a plethora of 47mm field guns. These anti tank guns had a reported muzzle velocity of 860m/sec (2700 ft/sec) and an incredible range of 6,900m… Now that is serious fire power!

Because of her depth this is more suited to the technical divers out there, and racking up double digits of deco time will be a necessity, however this is a beautiful wreck with so much to offer. This literally is Truk Lagoon at it’s very best!

For more from Richard and Hayley visit www.blackmantaphotography.com.

Richard Stevens

Richard Stevens

Richard Stevens is a keen underwater videographer and half of the team at Black Manta Photography with his partner Hayley. He is a qualified TEC50 and sidemount diver who has been diving for nearly 15 years with hundreds of dives in varied locations around the world. A keen marine conservationist, with a passion for large pelagic marine animals, Richard has studied marine biology and spent time studying the ecology of sharks. Richard also has a huge ‘lust for rust’ and a burning desire to delve into the world of cave diving. Armed with his camera, his aim is to inspire others to witness the marvels in our beautiful oceans for themselves.

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