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Chuuk Truk Wrecks 70 years after Hailstone underwater

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#1 tdpriest

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 10:12 PM

Three weeks and sixty dives in Truk: I wonder if I have a job to return to?

 

I travelled out from England last month, and had the usual frustrations in Manila's endlessly rebuilt but never air-conditioned airport, but arrived relatively unscathed at the Blue Lagoon resort, to dive sequentially and promiscuously with Americans, Australians and, later some rather aloof Englishmen (but not the Germans, who frowned at a photographer's acceptance of the actuality, if not the intention, of solo diving), guided by the superlatively knowledgable and experienced Trukkese guides. Two weeks at the Blue Lagoon, and a week on the "Odyssey", a byword under JJ for both organisation and diving tolerance.

 

I had made the reacquaintance of the Fujikawa Maru and some other old friends when a new adversary claimed my attention, and my camera: the San Francisco Maru ate the glass dome off my port. I have to acknowledge a debt to Shannon Conway, who brought out a new D800 and a fisheye lens from Australia, and Nauticam who sent a 230mm dome.

 

The San Francisco Maru...

 

_WET0699.jpg

 

... 50m to the deck, and ruled by jealous local gods (JJ claims that its title, the "million dollar wreck", comes not from its impressive military cargo, but its appetite for cameras). My own appetite for an image of its tanks and trucks kindled, it took five dives and many cylinders of gas to get this wreck out of my system.

 

_WET6661.jpg

 

I shouldn't forget the other stars: the sagging but still impressive Fujikawa Maru, the famous "R2D2" air compressor now protected, not by small corridors and stairwells, but dangerous and unstable corroded decks and tangled pipework; the beguiling Shinkoku Maru, the introspective and shrouded Kensho Maru, the bold Nippo Maru, rescued from ignominy as a water tank to a new life as an historical monument, the doomed aircraft, the equipment that never left the Hoki Maru to build roads and runways, the engine rooms of listing, twisted and inverted ships... 

 

WET9897.jpg

 

... and the remnants of men, shattered and lost to war, seventy years ago.

 

 



#2 tdpriest

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 10:17 PM

Sooner or later there will be a proper presentation, but here are a few more, perhaps even iconic, images:

 

Tim Fujikawa.jpg

 

_WET3609.jpg

 

_WET1046.jpg

 

 



#3 Steve Williams

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 03:52 AM

Thanks for sharing these Tim, Chuuk has always been a magic place in my mind. Beautiful, haunting images of a very special place. And you got a great story for the pub. "There I was at 50m when my camera imploded". ;-)

Glad you got some great help to recover.

Cheers partner!

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#4 thetrickster

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 04:29 AM

Great images.!

 

What happened to the camera...? I mean do you know why it broke the glass dome? I've heard of acrylic domes imploding - but not heard of glass domes going before ??


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#5 tdpriest

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Posted 22 May 2014 - 03:29 AM

Great images.!

 

What happened to the camera...? I mean do you know why it broke the glass dome? I've heard of acrylic domes imploding - but not heard of glass domes going before ??

 

 

It didn't implode: the perfectly intact glass dome fell off the back plate...

 

_WET4623.jpg

 

... I would be a little less hacked off if it hadn't happened before, when I was reassured that it wouldn't happen again (with the incidental effect of rendering my camera gear uninsurable).

 

_WET6400.jpg

 

Nauticam's 230mm dome, by the way, behaved impeccably. I would like to thank Shannon, again, Dan and Daisy and the team from Tamworth or thereabouts who were perfectly engaging Englishmen on the "Odyssey" (if, unlike my other countrymen, a little too keen on the relics of Japanese aviation), not to mention the Americans who put up with the remnants of former Empire cluttering up the boats, both wrecked and afloat.

 

_WET3111.jpg


Edited by tdpriest, 22 May 2014 - 03:50 AM.


#6 fforbes

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 12:35 PM

A very nice perspective of the periscopes. It "fell off"?? Like the o-ring was pressured to the point of not holding it on? Terrifying thought.


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#7 tdpriest

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Posted 18 June 2014 - 01:04 AM

I'm adding some comments that I made on a thread below, in response to the question of sharks, and risks:

 

I saw sharks, usually a little off the wrecks, on several dives last month. I ventured into the pit that was once the engine room of the Fujikawa Maru alone, taking more than a little time to identify "R2D2" as he looks nothing like himself from the rear! I talked to JJ, and took the decision to pursue my own challenge without risking the (perhaps over-willing) guides. Madison and Kent are happy enough to wriggle through engine rooms as it is! 

 

post-4522-0-20789500-1400653405.jpg

 

The San Francisco Maru is still very impressive, and it's a technical challenge that is under-appreciated at 50m or more.

 

post-4522-0-17330800-1400653427.jpg

 

The Fumitzuki is indeed ageing, but she isn't done yet.

 

post-4522-0-45497900-1400654333.jpg

 

Despite all these threats to the wrecks, and the siren lure of challenges to divers' skill, even the shallow wrecks remain attractive.

 

post-4522-0-60343800-1400653525.jpg

 

Despite a wonderful trip, with good companions, Chuuk is not a paradise in the Pacific. My heart goes out to the family of the diver who became another tragic victim of this deceptive and beautiful place in May. We should not forget that Truk is a far-flung corner of the world, and that the diving is often close to the edge...


... and I'm 2/3 of the way through my "digital darkroom" marathon of Truk images: a link will appear, later.



#8 jtresfon

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 05:41 AM

Obviously just missed you there... Arrived the day of your first post, spent a week in Chuuk then moved to Bikini Atoll for two weeks! One of the divers on our trip had his dome crack when he touched it on some wreckage and lost his entire rig to flooding. Also two DCS incidents while I was there, one fortunately cured with a few chamber treatments and one rather serious case where the diver somehow survived despite having to be resuscitated several times and is now in serious condition with a doubtful recovery ahead.

 

Rgds

Jean.



#9 tdpriest

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 11:50 AM

Truk 2014; slideshow from Flickr.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Chuuk, Truk, Wrecks, 70 years after Hailstone, underwater