National Archives photo of The IKUTA MARU being attacked by American bombers at Kwajalein Lagoon
Jan. 12, 1944
The Ikuta Maru is a medium sized freighter, 301 ft. long, with two cargo holds forward of the superstructure and two holds aft.
It's stern was almost completely removed by a bomb or torpedo hit, and lies on the bottom twisted away from the rest of the ship.
This is the deepest of the wrecks at Kwajalein, resting on it's port side at a depth of over 180 feet. The starboard side of the ship (shown here) is about 130 ft. deep.
The extreme depth of the Ikuta Maru always made for especially thrilling diving, although bottom time was necessarily somewhat limited.
The Ikuta was the most heavily armed of all the Japanese wrecks at Kwajalein, having a 5" deck gun on the bow and one on each side forward of the bridge. Live rounds for these guns can still be found in the racks near the gun mounts. It also carried several machine guns at various places on the superstructure, and the bridge is equipped with sliding armor panels to cover it's large, square windows.
The wooden walls and decks in the superstructure have long ago collapsed, creating a deep pile of rubble on the bottom against the port bulkhead.
This electronic equipment had fallen from the bridge area onto the sand at the bottom of the lagoon.
Crates of Japanese gas masks and large blue Saki bottles have been found in the forward cargo holds, which seem to have been converted into compartments for troop transport.
Many other relics "survived" in the superstructure, like this desk fan near the Officer's Quarters.
Text and Photos © 1999 by Bob Hampton All Rights Reserved