Channel 5 – from 4 September 2019
It has recently become clear that illegal salvors have completely removed the Dutch WWII submarines HNLMS K XVII and HNLMS O 16 from the South China Sea off Malaysia. These are naval war graves holding the remains off 79 crew who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Sadly this just adds to an ever lengthening list of naval war graves that are being plundered for scrap in the South China Sea and Java Sea.
The British WWII war graves known to have been targeted are the Force Z battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse. The 10,490-ton heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and the destroyer HMS Encounter have been completely dismantled and removed – whilst the destroyer HMS Electra has been gutted.
The 8,000-ton Dutch heavy cruiser Hr.Ms.Java and the light cruiser Hr.Ms.De Ruyter have been completely dismantled.
The Japanese destroyer IJN Sagiri has been salved. Three Japanese WWII losses in Usukan Bay Borneo, Kokusei Maru, Higane Maru and Hiyori Maru have been removed.
The Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth has been half removed and the heavy cruiser USS Houston has been targeted.
There are reports of a mass grave into which the remains of crew are dumped when found amongst the scrap.
It is disgusting
Just back from a fascinating week up in Scapa Flow as part of the Scapa 100 celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the scuttling of the Imperial German Navy High Seas Fleet there on 21 June 1919. As well as getting a ton of world class diving done, I gave an evening talk highlighting the absolute dearth of information about diving the sunken German warships when I first visited Orkney in 1982. This led on to my idea to write Dive Scapa Flow, first published in 1990, which gave serious diver information for the first time. Now in its 5th, 100th anniversary edition, 19 years later it has evolved along with our diving techniques such that although it still retains the title, it is a very different book.
The 1,999grt Type 1D standard cargo ship Shotan Maru was sunk in Truk Lagoon on the second day of U.S. Task Force 58’s surprise 2-day fast carrier raid, Operation HAILSTONE, by Douglas Dauntless dive bombers from the carrier USS Enterprise. New wreck video tour just posted.
The large 392.5-feet long IJN auxiliary transport vessel Seiko Maru was launched on 14 May 1940 as Japan readied itself for war in the Pacific. She had her machinery, engine and boiler rooms at the stern – so she resembled a tanker or oiler.
On 17 February 1944, as Task Force 58 fast carriers launched their surprise 2-day raid codenamed Operation HAILSTONE, she was at anchor in the IJN Fourth Fleet anchorage north east of the man-made aircraft carrier shaped Eten Island. A valuable target she was quickly attacked and took bomb hits aft from USS Enterprise Douglas Dauntless dive-bombers that blew out both sides of her hull.
She was set ablaze and settled by the stern into 52 metres of water, where she now sits upright and largely intact – barring the bomb damage aft.
Just posted another dive video on my YouTube channel, this time of the large Japanese WWII shipwreck in Truk Lagoon, Kiyosumi Maru. This ship started out life in 1934 as a passenger cargo liner but was requisitioned into the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in 1941 in the run up to the Pacific War.
She served initially as an armed merchant cruiser before being reassigned as an auxiliary transport. She was undergoing repairs in Truk Lagoon from convoy bomb damage when the fast carrier strike force aircraft of Task Force 58 swept across the lagoon on 17 February 1944 in their surprise 2-day raid. A large target, she was bombed and sunk just off Fefan Island. She is now one of the most famous of the Truk wrecks.
Here’s a video tour, mainly inside the engine room.
Here’s a short video of a dive on the massive 575 foot long dreadnought SMS Konig, lying on the bottom of Scapa Flow, Orkney in 42msw.
Yesterday I finally got to dive a special wreck that I have been keen to dive since its discovery in 2008, the German coastal submarine U 12. She was patrolling the east coast of Scotland in March 1915 when after sinking a 1,000-ton British steamship carrying a cargo of coal she was hunted down by three British destroyers. The following day, Aerial, Acheron and Attack sighted her on the surface and attacked. As she made to dive she was rammed near the bow. She then resurfaced and was engaged by British guns.
She sank with the loss of 20 crew and her wreck now rests upright in 50 metres in the Firth of Forth, North Sea.
Here’s the video of the dive;
23 April 2019. HMS Hampshire 100 year anniversary survey
The Explorers Club report for the expedition I led in 2016 to survey this famous WWI armoured cruiser off NW Orkney is nearing completion and should be made public in next few months.
Just back from a couple of weeks diving the famous Japanese WWII wrecks at Truk Lagoon in the Pacific, the world’s greatest collection of Japanese wartime shipwrecks. It has been quite a long time since a new WWII wreck was located in the lagoon, but I was priviledged to be taken out by Truk Stop Dive Centre to a new wreck only found at the tail end of 2018 and only dived once before, when it was first located. The wreck turned out to be an intact 300-tonne Imperial Japanese Navy salvage and repair tug. Four were known to have been present at Truk at the end of the war, 2 have been located previously, Futagami and Ojima. There is no wartime damage to the new wreck – and I suspect it was scuttled by the Americans at war’s end. Although its identity has not yet been established a plate in the engine room suggest the tug was built at the Kawasaki dockyard, Kobe.
See the video here: