354' (107m), 3,764-ton Passenger-Cargo Ship was launched in Kobe, Japan in 1936. In 1941 Nippo Maru was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy for transport. On February 17, 1944 she was at anchor, carrying water, firewood, troop armaments, a battle tank and a truck to various Pacific Islands. She was set ablaze and sunk by a trio of 500-pound bombs from TBF Avengers from the Carrier Essex.
The Nippo Maru was modern 5-hold Passenger-Cargo ship built in Kobe, Japan in 1936 for Okazaki Honten Steamship Co. Ltd. She was 354-foot long with a 3,764-ton cargo carrying capacity. All ships associated with this company were given names that began with the letter ‘N’. The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel.
In 1941 the Nippo Maru was requisitioned by the Japanese Navy as an auxiliary transport under the jurisdiction of the Sasebo Naval District. She was fitted out to carry water container tanks with a general mission to supply water, ordnance and ammunition to naval forces in the Mandated Islands. In 1942 she was associated with the 6th Base Force at Jaluit, and made repeated trips between the islands of Jaluit, Ponape, Kusiae, Saipan and Kwajalein. On December 7th 1943 she left Kusiae for Ponape carrying Army troops of the 52nd Division. She arrived at Truk Lagoon on February 10th 1944.
On February 17th 1944, the Nippo Maru was at anchor at the northern extreme of the 4th Fleet anchorage east of Dublon Island. During the first strike of Operation Hailstorm, she was attacked by TBF Avengers from the USS Essex that scored three hits in the mid and aftship areas causing heavy damage and starting fires. She went under within 2 hours of that attack.
She rests on an even keel with a 20-30 degree list to port with the superstructure at 90ft/27m feet, the deck at 120ft/36m feet and the sea bottom at 155ft/47m. This one of the most exciting wrecks in Truk Lagoon, and it is often visited. There are 3 anti-tank Howitzer guns on the starboard deck, a battle tank sits on the port main deck by Hold No 2 and the last hold has a full battery of 5-inch guns. There are very picturesque helm and engine telegraphs providing excellent photo opportunities. There is also a fallen anti aircraft gun on the main deck, and the remains of a truck hanging partly overboard forward with another lying on the bottom underneath. The Nippo Maru has such an interesting cargo of war materials (shells, detonators, rifle ammunition), equipment (water tanks, gas masks, mess kits, shoes), and other artifacts (beer bottles) that it has become one of the most popular wrecks in Truk Lagoon.