After the excitement of the previous dive, we settled down and topped up our gas for what was to be our last dive on this expedition. Common belief is that the target mark was a victim of the British minelaying submarine, HMS Porpoise. On the chart the depth showed only 50 metres. On the fishermans mark, this was only 1 nautical mile away from the war record report for the Choko Maru shipwreck.
The Choko Maru Shipwreck
We believed that this IJN minelayer was also requisitioned from the local ships plying harmless trade ,and converted for this task. After straying into one of the Porpoises’ minefields she was sent to the bottom.
We arrived on the mark and had a result on the sonar almost straight away. We placed the shot and, for the last time on this trip, all jumped into our gear with myself and Dave jumping in last. The current was running and by the time we got down to the bottom we met the rest of the team starting their ascent. They were signalling a no show on the wreck. I signaled to Dave and we decided to continue. There was a trail in the sand in the direction of the mark and at this depth we were breathing a TMX bastard mix left over from the previous dives top up. This gave us a very light narcosis. I attached the reel and headed off along the trail.
We were soon got our reward, in the sight of a huge net in front of us. Rising from the bottom at 50 metres to the top at around 35 metres. We scrambled up the net trying not to reduce the visibility any further. Arriving at the top, we still found the net almost covering this mark. The current kicked in and started to push us into a raised piece of netting. We both instinctively went to ground and started pulling ourselves, hand over hand, away from the hazard.
The shape clearly indicated a shipwreck, with passages and stairways carved into the remains of the deck. But the net was obscuring the ship sufficiently to make any further identification almost impossible. Is this the Choko Maru or not? To be continued…………