Tuesday, October 17, 2017
 
NOAA Discovers and Explores Japanese Cargo Ship, Amakasu Maru, near Wake Atoll

NOAA Discovers and Explores Japanese Cargo Ship, Amakasu Maru, near Wake Atoll

On August 11, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer discovered and explored a Japanese cargo ship,  Amakasu Maru No.1, near Wake Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Using remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer, the team visually documented the wreckage, the condition of the ship, and living communities growing on and around the site. The dive was streamed live on the Internet - via telepresence - for archaeologists and scientists to participate in the dive in real time and for the public to follow along live.

Prior to the dive, the team expected to find Japanese Destroyer, Hayate, which sank during the Battle of Wake Island reportedly in the area investigated during this dive. Upon close observation of the ship’s hull, the type of guns on the deck, structure of the cabins, and lettering on the stern of the vessel, the team quickly realized it was not the Hayate but instead another vessel of similar size.

<em>Deep Discoverer,</em> finds the <em>Amakasu Maru No. 1.</em>

Deep Discoverer, finds the Amakasu Maru No. 1.

Remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Deep Discoverer, comes upon the bow of the Amakasu Maru No. 1. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake.
After further observation and some quick online research, the team identified the ship as being the Amakasu Maru No. 1, a Japanese cargo ship which was sunk by the American submarine USS Triton on December, 24 1942, off Wake Atoll. The ship sits upright and intact on the bottom and now serves as a habitat for anemones, glass sponges, anglerfish, and other animals. Considerable damage seen on the hull may be due to torpedoes fired by the Triton.

Participating archaeologists and scientists selected the location of this dive based on data from a recent mapping expedition in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. During the April 2016 expedition, the Okeanos Explorer mapped the waters near Wake Atoll in an attempt to locate wreckage of Hayate. An anomaly in the multibeam sonar bathymetry data appeared to be a shipwreck and closer investigation with the ROV allowed the team to confirm the identity of the wreck. Several other features found while mapping in the area were also investigated during the dive, and were discovered to be large rock structures populated with corals, crinoids, squat lobsters, and more.

<em>Amakasu Maru No. 1</em> a happy home for sea life

Amakasu Maru No. 1 a happy home for sea life

The ship sits upright and intact on the bottom and now serves as a habitat for anemones, glass sponges, anglerfish, and other animals. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake.
Since July 27, the Okeanos Explorer has been operating in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and conducting the first-ever ROV work and deepwater scientific observations in the Wake Atoll Unit of the Monument. Prior to the expedition, only a small number of rock dredges had been conducted in the area and there had been no systematic exploration below SCUBA diving depths. This expedition provides an exciting opportunity for anyone to watch live as NOAA and partners visited some of the least explored parts of the planet for the first time in history.

Discovery and exploration of this shipwreck not only supports the mandate to assess cultural resources in the Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument, but will help to provide a more complete understanding of the Battle of Wake Island and the history of World War II.

Read more about NOAA's ocean exploration work at NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

Contact: Katie Wagner, Communications & Public Affairs for NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, (301) 734-1008 or by email at katie.wagner@noaa.gov

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