The Gosei Maru
Cargo ship lying on port side on steep incline. Torpedo bodies in holds, shells, lanterns and fuel drums. Propeller in shallow water, good fish and coral life.
Tsurumi Seitetsu Zosen K.K. in Yokohama built the 272ft/82m Gosei Maru in 1937 with a gross tonnage of 1,931 tons. She was one of a class of 1,852 to 1,961-ton coastal freighters that were mass-produced prior to the outbreak of war in the Pacific, and were used extensively to supply bases in the Mandated Islands. They were not outfitted with elaborate amenities and were medium sized, averaging only 272ft/82m in length with aft engines and a single screw. Their standard design was predicated upon maximizing the ship’s hold-carrying capacity with the elimination of passenger spaces. The ship was attached to the Yokosuka Naval District and given the general mission of “Transporting Military Personnel and Supplies.” The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel. The name ‘Gosei’ translates as ‘Five Star’.
On January 4th 1944, the Gosei Maru left Yokosuka for Rabaul and Truk carrying 10 fighter planes, numerous belly tanks for different types of fighters, bombs, torpedoes, and various provisions and supplies. On February 17th 1944, the Gosei Maru was one of 4 cargo ships off the eastern shore of Uman Island in the Sixth Fleet Anchorage selected for attack by the USS Monterey and USS Bunker Hill. Their dive-bombers reported that she was rusty and unkempt looking and was riding high in the water before the torpedo attacks suggesting that she had off-loaded much of her cargo. The first pair of torpedoes missed all four ships, but the second pair from the USS Monterey hit the Gosei Maru below her forward superstructure on the starboard side opposite the forward hold. The ship appeared to disintegrate with the hit, and went down immediately without having fires sweep her length.
Upon later inspection it was discovered that her holds were virtually empty carrying only Long Lance torpedo bodies, and empty oil and gas drums. She rests with a heavy list to the port side on steep sloping ground approximately 200 yards offshore from Uman Island with the stern deck at a high of 9ft/3m and the bow at 120ft/36m. In the past she was often referred to as the “Stern High Wreck.” In the earlier years it was dangerous to dive the Gosei Maru due to deteriorating explosives in the torpedo bodies. The residents of Uman Island reported several explosions as early as 1976-77 with the latest being reported in 1998. Numerous torpedoes may still be found in the No. 2 hold, and the rudder/propeller areas provide excellent photogenic opportunities, with good fish life and visibility.