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April 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Blue Lagoon Resort, Chuuk

a set-your-own-pace schedule on Truk Lagoon’s wreck dives

from the April, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

On February 17, 1944, the United States bombed the hell out of Truk Lagoon with "Operation Hailstone," an aerial attack on the Japanese planes and ships sheltered there. That included dropping six 500-pound bombs onto the San Francisco Maru, one of the 40-something Japanese cargo ships now resting in the lagoon. Seventy-five years later, I thought about that morning attack as I swam through her aft holds and saw what remained -- probably more divers have been through her holds now than WWII soldiers. I plunged down 180 feet into hold four to find a big, squat pile of munitions, including rows of depth charges. In the next hold over were torpedoes, many that broke when the ship went down. Up at 165 feet, I swam past the burned-out wheelhouse and a trio of three-man tanks sitting on the deck, gun barrels intact. Down in hold two were a water tanker and pickup truck, but beneath those was the money shot -- the floor was littered with beach mines. Stacks upon stacks of the globe-shaped explosives were everywhere.

Blue Lagoon Resort's Dive BoatsI got a good look at the large bow gun on the bow, but that was all I could do in 25 minutes. Dive time is limited at that depth, so I had to start my long trip back to the surface, which included 30 minutes of decompression. When I was here five years ago, I had to turn around halfway -- my narcosis made me too nervous to go on. But after getting into technical diving so I could explore deeper wrecks, I did this dive on trimix, so my head was clear and I could take away some good memories.

If you're into wreck diving, Truk Lagoon is heaven. The WWII wrecks are scattered within a few miles of each other, all in a calm atoll with no currents, and many of them are within recreational depths -- albeit they're best for divers with lots of 100- foot dives under their belts. I treated these as technical dives, yet all but one wreck I did is possible to do with either air or nitrox from a single tank (see the feature, "Technical Diving: Is It for You?")....


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