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WWII Wreck

New evidence has come to light as to the identity of the so called “Nikko Maru” wreck off Grande Island, Subic Bay. Another nickname for her is the “Sakura Maru” after some beer bottles were found on it and apparently the diver was more interested in these than the wreck itself. For the record, there were no ships by this name sunk in the Philippines during the Pacific War. The Nikko Maru No 1 was a cargo ship of 852 tons and around 60 meters in length. She was sunk off Cubi Point by Navy carrier based aircraft in the same raid that sank the Oryoko Maru on December 12, 1944, so she’s too big to be the one off Grande Island. A vessel that does match the wreck is the IJN Auxiliary Minesweeper Banshu Maru No. 52 which struck a mine and sank in Subic Bay on January 20, 1942 not long after the Bay was abandoned by the Allies. We have made several dives on the wreck and have studied it closely. The size and tonnage match the Banshu Maru No. 52 at 234 grt and a length of around 37 meters. The bow and the stern are the correct shape, matched from a photo of her before she was converted from a fishing vessel or whaler. There are a number of coils of wire rope scattered about the deck, there is the remains of a davit standing on the port quarter and the boiler is visible. Our last task was to assess the damage to the hull so we circled the wreck on the sea floor at 54 meters, and although half buried in silt, the hull can be seen to be split from one side to the other below the deck just forward of the beam, consistent with hitting a mine. The location also matches, just inside the shipping lane, where the minefield was laid between Grande Island and the mainland. We are confident that this wreck has now been identified and given its correct name. Ship’s Details Builder: Mitsubishi Zosen Kobe Zosensho Owner: Hayashikane Shoten Call Sign: JDKA Official Number: 28262 Laid Down: 04/09/1921 Launched: 05/11/1921 Completed (234 grt): 28/11/1921 Requisitioned: 01/12/1941 Aux. Minesweeper Division 46, Bako Guard District. Fate: Sunk by mine in Subic Bay, Luzon 20/01/1942 Removed from Navy list: 05/02/1942 Commanding Officers: Reserve Lt. Kubo Tadahiko 15/01/1941 to 01/12/1941 Reserve Lt. Uchida Shoji 01/12/1941 to 20/01/1942 Below is the high resolution sonar scan of the Banshu Maru No. 52 wreck in Subic Bay:
Nikko Maru - Banshu Maru No. 52
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