January 2019 – Truk Lagoon

Report by Norman Lamb

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I had heard for years about how good the diving was on the World War II Ship Wrecks in Truk lagoon, before I finally got there for the first time in 2013. The wreck diving there was amazing and I was soon left with the feeling it was the place that I had to get back to and dive again before I had to give up diving for some reason.

This year I did just that, I got back again to Truk with 3 other members of our Banstead Diving Club Sue Royse, Alan and Alex Kennedy. I booked the trip for the beginning of February this year through Diverse Travel. We would be diving in the two weeks immediately before 75th anniversary of Operation Hailstone on the 17th& 18th February 1944. The action produced the largest collection of wrecks in one place anywere in the world.

The four of us met up on evening of the 1st February at Heathrow airport for the Philippine Airline flight to Manila. After arriving in Manila we checked into the Holiday Inn Express for our overnight stay. We had a day to spend in Manila, so the four of us took ourselves of to the Old Town for the day. Then it was back to the hotel to collect our bags and a bus to the airport. After booking in our bags for the United Airlines late night flight to Guam on the next stage of our trip. From Guam it was then a short flight to the airport at Chuck in Chuck State, which is in the Federal States of Micronesia. Chuuk is the name that the islands are called today. Divers always refer to it as Truk Lagoon as that is name it was called is WW II when the islands were occupied by the Japanese.

After arriving at Truk in the morning, the rest of the day was spent checking in, doing the paper work and getting the dive permit. The following day we started the diving, with our 1st dive on the Fujikawa Maru – See dive Report – it immediately came back to me just how amazing the diving here is and how good the next 10 days of diving were going to be. Diving in Truk is not just about diving shipwrecks, with a lot of the artefacts of WW II still on or in these wrecks it really is, in a lot of ways just like to a WWII underwater museum.

With a water temperature of 28 to 29c and a visibility that on most wrecks exceeds 50m and in some places can be much more, diving here is very pleasant indeed. Time has transformed the hulls of these wrecks into amazing ship-reefs, on the wrecks that are laying on their sides, the hulls are so encrusted in hard and soft coral it is hard to see metal for coral, with good light shining on them, they can be a kaleidoscope of colour. Add to that shoals of tropical fish, making it all so rich in marine life, you have a lot for both wreck divers and reef lovers. Some years ago a diver told me, although he was a wreckie is partner was a reef lover, so they had to go for a few dives on the outer reef. He said that the reefs even impressed him as they are literally virgin reefs with such an abundance of the marine life on them.

But the main pull of Truk lagoon for divers are the wrecks. Although this is often billed as a technical diving location you don’t need a twinset or a rebreather to dive here. A lot of the diving here is done on single cylinder, there is a vast amount to see in the sub 35m depth range. I’m certain that one of our divers on this trip, Sue will tell you that you can have a very enjoyable 10 days, 32 dives here and never go past 35m.

There is just so much for divers to see here that even in 30 plus dives you only get a glimpse of all that is here. There is nowhere else in the world like Truk lagoon, where you can find such a large abundance of wrecks in clear warm water. I’ve now done 65 dives in Truk Lagoon but still feel that I’ve not seen all there is to see on the wrecks that I have dived. There are still wrecks in the lagoon that I’ve not yet dived with loads of goodies to see on them and I’ve not been anywhere near taking a look at the outer reefs.

Truk really is the ultimate diving location.

So where do you go after Truk? You don’t. You just have to go back again. Am I trying to justify another trip to Truk Lagoon?

If you have a strong interest in WWII memorabilia. Start diving now.

If you are a serious wreck diver. Start saving now.

Truk is the place to dive.

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