The Fujikawa Maru
Passenger cargo ship sitting upright. Aircraft parts, fuel drums, shells, guns and many artifacts in forward holds. Very interesting engine room and huge deck guns on bow and stern. Good coral growth and fish life.
This 433ft/131m, 6,938-ton Passenger-Cargo Ship was built in 1938 for the Toyo Kaiun Kisen Kaisha headquartered in Tokyo. The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel. The company had been steamship owners since 1898. It provided cargo and passenger services from the Orient to New York and South China in addition to general tramping in routes to North America, South America and India. In 1940, she was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy for use as an armed aircraft transport or ferry. The Fujikawa Maru was one of 10 merchant ships to be converted for this use and prior to the outbreak of war was based in Indo-China as part of Air Flotilla 22 under the command of the 11th Air Fleet. She was tasked for transportation duty including the delivery of planes and aircraft parts to island bases. She participated in the Midway operation, and also operated in the Aleutians, Rabaul, Tarawa, the Marshall Islands and Yokosuka.
In September 1943, she was nearly sunk heading from Truk to Kwajalein by a torpedo from the USS Permit, but she limped back to Truk Lagoon in three days, and was later repaired and returned to service in January 1944. A torpedo struck the renovated ship during Operation Hailstone Strike 3E-1 at 1420 hours by aircraft from the USS Bunker Hill. Photographs show the ship still afloat the next morning. Dive bombers from the USS Essex scored a direct hit with a 1,000 lb. bomb on the port quarter, and three near misses before the ship was reported to be on fire and smoking. The final attack was by two USS Monterey planes that reported a huge explosion from one or two of their torpedoes launched against the ship. The Fujikawa Maru finally went down early the next morning.
For years, this wreck has been known as the “showcase wreck” and is associated with the best diving attractions. She rests on an even keel with a superstructure depth of 30ft/9m, deck at 60ft/18m and sea bottom at 110/33m. An encrusted prominent bow gun on a raised platform above the forecastle deck can be readily seen. This deck gun was produced by the British manufacturer, Elswick Ordnance Company for the Japanese Navy following the 1895 Sino-Japanese war. The builder’s plaque on the gun is still visible indicating its British manufacturer, serial number (12469) and the date it was made - 1899. The superstructure is readily accessible with pilothouse, baths, staterooms and galley. There are several Zero fighter plane fuselages and many other plane parts (belly tanks, propeller blades, wheels) in the forward holds along with large artillery shells. There is excellent access to the engine room and storage/work areas. Overall, there is an abundance of rich multi-colored corals and schools of reef fish that can be seen by divers.