The San Francisco Maru
Passenger cargo ship sitting upright. Much to see – bow gun, trucks, tanks, mines, shells, bombs, aircraft engines, ammunition, china and depth charges on stern.
The San Francisco Maru was a 385ft/117m, 5,831-ton Passenger-Cargo ship built in 1919 for Yamashita Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha as part of its fleet involved in world trade operations in minerals such as coal, bauxite, and phosphate for transportation to the Empire. The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel. Following requisition by the Japanese Navy, it was assigned to convey Japanese Navy Branch military cargoes between the Japanese homeland and the Inner South Seas.
On May 4th 1943 Allied intelligence intercepted a damage report from the San Francisco Maru’s commander saying that she had received minor damage from attacking aircraft at Wewak, New Guinea. Following repairs, later prisoner interrogations revealed that she arrived at Truk Lagoon on February 5th 1944. Aerial photos show her lying at the 4th Fleet anchorage southeast of Dublon.
Following early bombing attacks against ships in that anchorage on the first day of Operation Hailstorm, the San Francisco Maru was observed on fire with smoke arising amidships. On February 18th 1944 air groups from the USS Yorktown, USS Bunker Hill and the USS Essex attacked her. She was hit by six 500-lb bombs dropped by aircraft from the USS Essex, and was reported to be burning furiously and sinking stern first. Five crewmembers were killed as a result of these air attacks.
This wreck is loaded with war materials and one of Truk Lagoon’s most fascinating. She lies very deep, and rests on an even keel with the superstructure at 140ft/42m, deck at 165 ft/50m, and the sea bottom at 210ft/64m. There is a beautiful bow gun, and 3 armored 3-man light tanks and a flatbed truck are located on the main deck. Two large trucks are located in Hold No. 2 and the other holds are filled with interesting war material, such as fuel drums, hose sections, ammunition crates and artillery shells, torpedo bodies, aircraft bombs, depth charges, airplane engines and aircraft wheel assemblies. Hold No 1 is crammed with hemispherical mines, cordite containers, crates of artillery shells and aircraft bombs. Much of this material was brought to Truk Lagoon by the San Francisco Maru in anticipation of expected amphibious landings by U.S. troops.