Journal Entry

July 16, 2000

Mark Miller - Wreck Historian

Today our trusty vessel, the Spare Time, was in for scheduled maintenance, so we were working from a pair of smaller boats. Peter Rejcek, Associate Editor of the Kwajalein Hourglass (the local newspaper) and Brian Greene, a marine zoology student from the University of Hawaii, joined us for the day to follow our adventures.

Peter Rejcek (left) and Brian Greene join expedition team members diving on the Tateyama Maru


Our day's efforts focused on the wreck of the freighter Tatayama Maru, an armed merchant ship that was sunk in the air attack of January 31, 1944. A bomb pierced her hull only a few a feet away from a cargo hold containing tons of high explosive shells destined for the defenders of Kwajalein.

Close-up of hole blown through hull of the Tateyama Maru from the expolosion in her hold that sent her to the bottom. The hull's metal is peeled outward and the interior bulkhead of the hold is seen through the jagged hole.


Unlike the damage we saw on the Shoei Maru, where the entire stern of the vessel was destroyed, these shells did not explode, and are visible today, spilling out of the ship and onto the sandy lagoon floor. The ship lies on her starboard side in 130 feet of water, and offers many interesting sights. Our first dives were rewarded when we found and documented human remains, bottles, and explosives. I was able to locate a partial skeleton inside the engine room, and beer and saki bottles in the forward cargo hold.

Wreck historian Mark Miller examines a beer bottle found in the forward hold of the Tateyama Maru. He was disappointed to find the beer had gone flat!


Jon and Tom examined the huge pile of ammunition in the aft hold. Gator covered the bomb damage that resulted in the sinking of the vessel. The thrill of discovery had everyone excited, and our surface interval seemed endless!

Tom Krasuski, expediton leader finds live artillary shells spilling from the aft hold. During the dive briefing, historian Mark Miller warned us of the danger these shells posed!


The weather had changed from the glass calm of the previous day to a light breeze that provided about one foot of surface waves. The visibility was wonderful, and the top of the wreck at 90 feet could be seen from the surface. The second dives allowed us to film more of the hull and the ship's huge propeller, as well as more remains and artifacts. A camera was mounted to a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV), and enabled us to better photograph the outside of the wreck. So far, the Tatayama Maru is one of the crew's favorite shipwrecks, and we all hope to return again soon and see what else this wreck silently holds in its tomb of blue.