The Yamagiri Maru was built in 1938 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as a Passenger-Cargo freighter for the Yamashita Kisen (Steamship) Company.
The submarine U.S.S. Drum attacked and heavily damaged her on August 28th 1943. She was taken back to Rabaul but daily air strikes made repair there impossible and she was moved to Truk Lagoon in December 1943 (maybe January 1944). She was lying in the repair anchorage during the air strike and survived the first day. On the second day however (18th of February 1944) she was hit by a 1000 lb bomb and a 500 lb bomb causing massive fire and explosion. She went down and took 12 crew with her.
This ship holds so much to see. She lies on her port side and as we descend we make our way through the housing first. The walls are the ceiling and we are careful not to get stuck or cut ourselves on some edges. Making our way through all of that we enter the engine room through some rubble that must have been the skylights once. The engine also lies on her side and the cylinder heads can clearly be seen. Captain Lance firmly warned us not to squeeze through anywhere because the engine can come down any time after 74 years of hanging on.
The engine cylinders are great for photos anyway and we spend some time here. Than we carefully explore further making sure there are no parts above us that could come down. The stairways that now run tilted from left to right particularly intrigue me but it is so difficult to catch on camera.
We make our way back out and swim to the aft hold where the big shells are stored. These are 14-inch shells and they are massive. Around one meter long and half as thick as me. The destruction must have been huge when one of those hit.
I am very very careful not to touch the shells. Captain Lance told us that the US Navy once brought one of the shells up. Put it in a special transport box for explosives and took off for Guam. They wanted to see how decomposed and dangerous they still were. They never arrived. In midair the shell exploded and took half the plane with is. the pilot somehow managed to do an emergency landing on the water and the coast guard picked them up. A happy ending for the fact that they played with fire.
Anyway, the story sticks in my mind and I am very careful where I swim. At the bottom of the hold there is some other interesting debris and exploring it is great fun. Than the bottom time is up and we make our way around the stern to the bow. In the books it says that the ships name can be seen here but I can’t find the right spot. Maybe I looked too far up?
Seem I need to come back to get it right the next time or maybe the coral took over. We will see.