AIKOKU MARU UNDERWATER IMAGES
The Aikoku Maru was originally built as a combined freighter and passenger ship for the OSK line. However, prior to her completion the Japanese Imperial Navy commandeered her to be fitted out as a commerce raider. During the war she captured and sank several enemy ships.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Aikoku Maru in wartime "dazzle" camouflage.
The Aikoku Maru also functioned as a submarine tender, cargo, and troop transport ship. On the day of the attack, she was carrying various high explosives in her forward holds including ammunition, aerial bombs, mines and her own shells. It is believed a US Avenger attacked the ship and dropped a bomb in the forward hold. The resulting explosion was so violent it destroyed the aircraft and blew the entire forward part of the ship off from the bridge forward. The force explosion was so tremendous it set fires onshore and blew a depression in the lagoon bottom the stern settled into, making it the deepest wreck in the lagoon.
Start of the explosion showers Aikoku debris across the lagoon. Attacking Japanese "Zero" frames the horrific explosion explosion moments later. (National Archives)
The awesome destruction of the missing bow is one of the most striking aspects of the wreck. The Aikoku Maru and many of her crew now lay in 240 fsw.
US submarine training silhouette of the Aikoku Maru. -USS Bowfin Submarine Museum
Aikoku Maru: Displacement:10,348 tons; Length: 492 feet; Beam: 66 feet; Engine: 2 diesel; Max Speed: 20.9 kts. Launched: 25 APR 1940.
Courtesy-Capt. Lance Higgs S.S. Thorfinn