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Heian Maru – Submarine tender; a converted passenger liner (510ft) lying on its port side. Shells, torpedoes, china, periscopes, radio room and many other artifacts.

Depth: 35-110ft/11-33m

Heian Maru510' (155m), 11,614-ton Passenger-Cargo Ship was built in 1930 at a cost of $15,000,000. On her maiden voyage she set a trans-Pacific speed record on a trip to Seattle with passengers traveling in English-style luxury. She was converted into a Navy submarine tender in 1941. On February 17, 1944 a dive bomber from the USS Yorktown CV10 hit near the bow exploding the superstructure in a fiery inferno. On the 18th two torpedo bombers from USS Bunker Hill scored near misses, but damaged the ship. The ship was then hit by Avenger torpedo bombers, which caused an explosion, sinking the ship.

Heian MaruThis 510ft/155m, 11,614-ton Passenger-Cargo Ship was built in 1930 at a cost of $15,000,000 by Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), perhaps the greatest and best known of all Japanese companies. The word ‘Maru’ designates a merchant vessel. The Japanese government requisitioned more vessels from the NYK fleet for wartime service than any other shipping organization. The interior decoration was designed in the “old English” style and this theme was carried out in the ship’s lounge, reading room, writing room, and dining salon. Such decoration was considered a major innovation in ships at the time. On her maiden voyage, she set a trans-Pacific speed record on a trip to Seattle. Seattle shippers spread the word through the media that the arrival of the new ship might be regarded as a gesture of friendship from the business interests of Japan. Following this theme of friendship, the ship’s owners opened up the Heian Maru to the public, letting nearly 15,000 people tour the vessel. The crowds were so great that hundreds had to be turned away. She was converted into a Navy submarine tender in 1941, and was an integral part of the 6th Submarine Fleet initially based in Kwajalein, and subsequently stationed at Truk.

On February 17th 1944 the Heian Maru was anchored 500 yards offshore of Dublon with its hull painted a dazzle camouflage design. A dive-bomber from the USS Yorktown hit her near the bow exploding the superstructure into a fiery inferno. Two SB2Cs from the USS Bunker Hill attacked the ship with two 1,000 lb. bombs and one 1,600 lb. bomb, but all three missed. Photos taken mid-day show the ship smoking very heavily with its superstructure enveloped in flame. On the February 18th two torpedo bombers from the USS Bunker Hill scored near misses, but damaged the ship. Later that day, the Heian Maru was hit by Avenger torpedo bombers from the USS Bunker Hill, which caused an explosion and large fires, sinking the ship. Fourteen officers and men were killed, and twenty-eight wounded.

She rests on her port side with the side hull beginning at 40ft/12m and the sea bottom at 120ft/36m. She is the largest ship remaining in Truk Lagoon, and has large passageways with an expansive bridge and engine room. The second hold has many torpedo bodies recognizable by the twin propellers together with a winch apparatus, pulleys and chain that were part of the system used to move the torpedoes in and out of the storage space. Along the promenade deck level companionway aft of the bridge superstructure there are a total of nine 50-foot long submarine navigational and attack periscopes lying side by side.

(Excerpts reprinted with permission from World War II Wrecks of the Truk Lagoon by Dan E. Bailey)


Truk Wreck Diving

Truk Stop Hotel and Truk Lagoon Dive Center
P.O. Box 546, Chuuk State,
Federated States of Micronesia 96942 
(691) 330-4232/4233/4285/4286 - 330-7990 – Reservations only
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