The Sankisan Maru has some mystery to her. There are stories, that she was named Red Hook once, being built in Tacoma, Washington, then captured and renamed. However, some of the things like the tonnage and other things don’t add up. So there is discussion if this story is true. Most likely not.
Undoubtfully however she sat at the anchorage west of Uman on the 17th of February 1944 and was the second ship to be attacked after the Amagisan Maru. On the 18th, after being hit by a bomb or only strafed on the 17th already, she got a hit in the stern holds or the fire reached the cargo and simply exploded. The very stern is hundred or so meters away from the rest of the ship and leading there is a crater that got caused by the explosion. The rest simply disappeared. So she went with a big bang but the foreship is surprisingly intact. The crew was on shore, so she went with no hands.
Starting with the bow we drop down the mooring and get greeted by schools of fish and beautiful coral. The bow does not really have a gun anymore and we descend to the first hold. The bottom is covered in hundreds and hundreds of machine gun shells. They lie shattered on the floor between decaying boxes and some people have taken up some shells to draw out patterns on the cross beams. Very clever to touch unstable live ammunition. But this is a risk everybody has to asses for themselves. We marvel at the sheer number of shells and slowly make our way to the second hold.
On the port side there are two truck frames and taking pictures with the wheel is always a favorite. It just makes so nice photos. The rest of the trucks are in pretty bad condition but still recognizable. On the starboard side there are a lot of engines and wheels and the back of another truck? At least it looks like one.
Through and old door we make the connection to hold number three andhere we find hundreds and hundreds of tiny glass bottles. It is said, that those were used to transport Chinin which served as Antimalaria remedy. it seems ironic that the medicine and the ammunition got transported so close together. One for life the other one for death.
We try to explore the rest of the ship but everything is squished together due to the massive explosion. We turn around and enjoy the beautiful coral and fish life on the mast and windlass. There are little fish that shine like Sapphires and beautiful purple soft coral that gently sway in the mild current. We make this our safety stop and then slowly ascend to the surface.
Whilst we were under water it started raining ever so slightly and the sun is shining. As a result we get a wonderful rainbow all the way back to the Thorfinn.
On our second dive here, I want to follow the crater and find the rudder. We are with a group of Tek divers and time is of no issue to them. We line up with the ship and set our compass and then we set out. The crater is like a drop off and black shades peel themselves from the water as we hold our depth at 30m. Old shell plating and pieces of the ship are strewn all over and it is like a treasure hunt. Than it gets deeper still and there is no more debris to guide the way. Have we missed it? We swim further but I get anxious. There is just sand deep below until I think I see something. Is it my wish or real? I hurry on and the propellor and rudder slowly take form. Like they only just got real. Capt. Lance told us that the rudder looks like a washboard and sure enough a giant could do its washing here. It is very deep and we have only a couple of minutes. But this massiv peace of iron has created its own reef in the sand of the crater and little fish dart around. The way everything is exactly upright and still standing is surreal. It is gloomy and spooky and wonderful all at once. It was definitely worth the swim.