The Kensho Maru was a 384ft/116m, 4,862-ton Passenger Cargo ship built for Inui Kisen K.K. of Kobe, Japan in 1938. She is often referred to as the ‘Kansho Maru’ but this is an incorrect translation of the kanji characters. The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel. She had a radius of 21,600 miles at 15 knots, and following its requisition by the Japanese Navy, she provided various duties, primarily transporting military personnel and supplies.
Intercepted radio messages indicated that the Kensho Maru was present at Truk in December of 1943, at Kwajalein in late December of 1944, at Roi in January of 1944 prior to arriving in Truk on January 6th 1944. The captured diary of a Japanese on Kwajalein stated that in the fourth attack on December 24th 1943, 20 heavy bombers appeared over Kwajalein with one bomb hitting the Kensho Maru setting it afire. To avoid having her sunk, she was run aground and the fire was put out after three hours.
On February 17th 1944 the Kensho Maru was at anchor north of Fefan and west of Dublon Islands undergoing repairs next to the repair ship Akashi. The ships were attacked by planes from the USS Yorktown and the Kensho Maru may have been hit by a 1,000-lb bomb on her stern. Shortly thereafter, planes from the USS Essex scored a direct hit on her with a 1,000-lb. bomb amidships, leaving her afire. On February 18th 1944, aircraft from the USS Enterprise, USS Monterey and USS Bunker Hill attacked the Kensho Maru with planes from the USS Bunker Hill reporting hitting her with a torpedo causing heavy damage. The Kensho Maru also may well have been the ship on which one pilot dropped his partially full belly tank causing a large fire amidships. However, none of the aircraft reported seeing her sink before they left the area. On March 6th 1944 a fragmentary radio message was intercepted from Palau to Hiroshima indicating that the Kensho Maru was one of the many ships sunk at Truk Lagoon during Operation Hailstone.
She rests upright on an even keel with a 20-degree list to the port. The superstructure is at 60ft/18m, the deck at 80ft/24m, and the sea bottom at 105-130ft/32-40m feet. She has a well-preserved pilothouse, cabins and galley, and a readily accessible engine room. The engine room is one of the best to explore of all the wrecks in Truk Lagoon. Two anchor chains extend from each side of the bow. Because of its relatively shallow depth the Kensho Maru is one of the most popular for divers since it allows both good exterior and interior exploration and sightseeing.