The Hoki Maru
Captured NZ cargo ship ‘M/V Hauraki’ sitting upright. Aft holds packed - trucks, bulldozers, tractor, steamroller, depth charges and radial engines.
The Hoki Maru was built in 1921 by William Denny and Brothers of Dumbarton, Scotland for the Union Steamship Corporation of New Zealand, Ltd. for trans-Pacific trade, mostly to Australia. Originally christened the M/V Hauraki, she was 450ft/136m long with a gross tonnage of 7,112 tons. The Hoki Maru was driven by twin screws and her engines were of the very latest Diesel eight-cylinder four-stroke type. She could carry a complement of 50 men and 12 passengers. She was the first of her kind to be propelled by power rather than steam. Her oil bunkers held enough fuel to take the vessel halfway around the world. The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel.
In 1940 she was requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport, and continued in her normal company trade service. In July 1942, she was sent out from Sydney to Port Said with primarily a crew of 50 new Zealanders. She was captured by the Japanese armed merchant raiders Hokoku Maru and Aikoku Maru and taken to Singapore where the Japanese decided that her engines were in poor condition owing to poor maintenance. They were unaware of the sabotage efforts by the New Zealand crew who had also thrown overboard all tools, spare parts and blue prints for operating these unique diesel engines. The New Zealand crew ultimately was sent to several POW Camps; 2 of them were later given the OBE for bravery. In January of 1944 following 18 months of engine overhaul, she was recommissioned the Hoki Maru, and classified as a “special” transport. She arrived in Truk on February 15th 1944 and was the only ship sunk at Truk Lagoon that had been captured by the Japanese.
On February 17th 1944 she was repeatedly attacked by USS Essex and USS Yorktown bombers and torpedoed by planes from USS Bunker Hill. She burned and sank before the next day’s attack. She rests on an even keel east of Eten Island with a slight list to port. Her superstructure lies at 80ft/2m, deck at 120ft/36m, and sea bottom at 165ft/50m. The holds contain many types of cargo, bombs, ammunition, and vehicles, including a Diesel roller, 4 Isuzu Type 94 trucks, 2 tractors (one similar to a John Deere, the other is a Komatsu), 2 small bulldozers and a prime mover. The midship was devastated by bomb damage, and the foreship opened up by gasoline explosions. Due to the wide variety of cargo and equipment, she provides an excellent diving experience.