The Asakaze Maru is the largest of the Japanese shipwrecks at Kwajalein Lagoon. It has three cargo holds forward of it's massive superstructure and three more aft. It rests upright on the bottom of the lagoon, 160 ft. deep. It's superstructure towers four stories above the main deck.
The 3" cannon on the Asakaze's bow was of little use against the American bombers that attacked this ship in 1943. An identical cannon on the stern was blown free of its mount by one of the explosions that sank the ship, it lies at the bottom of the #6 hold.
The huge kingposts and riggings loomed over the deep, main deck of the Asakaze Maru. This is the forward kingpost, between the #1 and #2 cargo holds, as seen in the bow gun photo above. A big sea turtle lived on and around this kingpost, and was frequently encountered here.
This Japanese car was part of the Asakaze Maru's cargo, parked on the upper level of the #4 hold. The twisted steel at left is part of the main deck, bent down by a nearby bomb hit.
The upper areas of the engine room were destroyed by a 1000 lb. bomb that dropped through the engine room skylights. Below the twisted wreckage of catwalks and bulkheads is a deep, dark maze of gratings and equipment, much of it still intact. Sunlight never reaches this inner realm, 150 ft. below the surface of the lagoon, more than 50 ft. below the top of the superstructure.
Another bomb exploded near the top of the superstructure. Some of the blast came through a vent over the ovens in the ship's galley, melting and twisting a metal shelf.
When I think SHIPWRECK I think Asakaze Maru.
There are deeper wrecks in the ocean, but none strike me deeper than the "Morning Breeze" Maru.
Text and Photos © 1999 by Bob Hampton All Rights Reserved