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  Toa Maru No. 2 (Toa Maru)

6,732 Tons
446' x 58' 1"
2 x deck guns

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DiveGizo 2000

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James Fincham 2004

Ship History
Built by Kawaminami Kogyo K.K. at Zosensho shipyard at Koyagijima near Nagasaki. Laid down December 3, 1937 as a 6,732-tons passenger/cargo ship for Kokusai Kisen K. K. Instead, purchased on the stock by Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK Line). Launched December 8, 1938 as Toa Maru No. 2 or Toa Maru No 2 Go but also known as simply Toa Maru. Completed July 31, 1939 and registered in Osaka. Lloyds of London number 34722. Her maiden voyage was from Kobe to West Africa. Until June 1940 operated by Osaka Shosen Kaisha on their west Africa routes.

Wartime History
On August 18, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as an IIppan Choyosen (transport) and attached to the Yokosuka Naval District.


On January 15, 1942 renamed Toa Maru No 2 Go under Navy’s secret instruction No. 513 and attached to the Sasebo Naval District as an auxiliary transport (Otsu) based at Sasebo.


On January 22, 1943 in the evening, departed Rabaul on a supply run bound for Bougainville, Shortland, Kolombangara and Munda. Aboard were 107 soldiers, concrete, a single Type 95 Ha Go Tank, a motorcycle with side car, munitions and supplies. Escorted by torpedo boat Hiyodori, subchaser CH-23 and mine layer Kamome. After departing Rabaul, the convoy was spotted by a Allied coastwatcher on New Ireland and reported by radio to the Allies.

During January 29-30, 1943 escorted by F1M2 Pete from the 958 Kokutai from Shortland Harbor plus Ki-43-I Oscars from 11th Sentai from Munda Airfield. Minelayer Kamome was detached from escort duty.

Sinking History
On January 31, 1943 bound for Disappointment Cove (Vila Harbor) on Kolombangara Island. The Japanese convoy was escorted by Japanese planes including F1M2 Petes and Ki-43 Oscars.

Meanwhile, twelve SBD Dauntless dive bombers from Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 233 (VMSB-233) escorted by eight F4F Wildcats from Marine Fighting Squadron 112 (VMF-112) from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal took off to attack Japanese shipping. After take off, two F4F Wildcats aborted the mission due to mechanical problems.

Arriving over the the ships, a dog fight ensued overhead between the Japanese escorts and the American fighters. During the air combat, F4F "Impatient Virgin" 03520 pilot 1st Lt. Jefferson J. DeBlanc claimed five Japanese planes before he was shot down and later earned the Medal of Honor (MOH). Lost were, two F1M2 Petes, one Ki-43 Oscar, two SBD-4 Dauntless and F4F-4 Wildcat 11983 pilot SSgt James A. Feliton (rescued) and F4F "Impatient Virgin" 03520 pilot 1st Lt. Jefferson J. DeBlanc (rescued).

During the attack, the SBD Dauntless dive bombers targeted the Toa Maru and scored several near misses and a bomb hit on the port side near the bow that caused partial flooding in the No. 1 Hold and No. 2 Hold. Meanwhile, escorting F4F Wildcats made a strafing run against the ship causing fires on the deck. Aboard, one crew member and two soldiers were killed.

Afterwards, fires were raging on the deck and no. 1, no. 2 and no. 3 cargo holds partially flooded. By 10:50pm efforts to reduce flooding failed and the crew and passengers were ordered to abandon ship.

Although damaged, the ship remained afloat and drifted for three days. Solomon Islanders loyal to a coastwatcher boarded the vessel and removed the ship's log and other materials. On February 3, 1943, ran aground and sank into Kololuka Bay off northern Ghizo Island. On April 1, 1943 officially removed from the Navy list.

Fates of the Crew
The surviving crew and soldiers aboard were rescued.

The shipwreck rests on her starboard side on the sloping sandy bottom of Kololuka Bay off northern Ghizo Island.

During 1974, Australian salvage divers removed the engines, propellers, chains and other gear and sold them as scrap metal. To facilitate their salvage efforts, the divers cut several holes into the hull one near the bow and two others near the engine room.

Since 1985, Dive Gizo has been offering SCUBA dives on the wreck on a near daily basis. Toa Maru No. 2 remains one of the best preserved shipwrecks at SCUBA diving depths in the Solomon Islands. The shipwreck is ideal because it is able to be snorkeled from the surface and the depth is suitable for divers of many experience levels.

On April 2, 2007 an 8.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit the Ghizo Island area. The wheelhouse the ship was previously in excellent condition. During the earthquake, the bridge area fell off. This exposed some layers of holds previously inaccessible.

On the foredeck is a coral-encrusted mounting for a deck gun, missing and presumed to have broken off in deeper water. Only one bomb appears to have hit the vessel, creating a dramatic hole on the port side. The superstructure has evidence of an intense fire aboard that was hot enough to melt glass.

Attached to the deck between cargo hold no. 2 and cargo hold no. 3 is a single Type 95 Ha Go Tank and is lying on its right side. Nearby is a motorcycle and sidecar against the mast and a truck.

The aft holds are in shambles. Deeper in the holds it appears that the fire caused no damage. A small storeroom contains signal lamps and a gas masks. Numerous artillery shells, clips of rifle bullets, and endless sake bottles littered the forward holds. There are still pots and pans in the galley.

Hold No. 1: Contains cement bags. Partially flooded due to the bomb damage near the bow. Forward is the bow and to the stern is a single derrick with boom arm and Hold no. 2.

Hold No. 2: Contains Tanks, steel girders, bottles and rifle ammunition in 5 round stripper clips. Partially flooded due to the bomb damage near the bow. Forward is a single derrick with boom arm and Hold No. 1 to the stern are two derricks with boom arms and Hold No. 3.

Hold No. 3: This hold is empty. Partially flooded due to the bomb damage near the bow. Forward is Hold No. 2 and two derricks with boom arms. To the stern is the bridge.

Hold No. 4: This hold is empty. Forward is the bridge and to the stern is Hold No. 5.

Hold No. 5: Contains timber beams and logs. Forward of the hold is two derricks with boom arms. Forward is Hold No. 4 and to the stern is Hold No. 6.

Hold No. 6: Contains fuel drums. Forward of the hold is a single derrick with boom arm.

Note, the previous vessel, Toa Maru was built 1934 by Kawasaki Drydock Co. in Kobe gross tonnage 10,052 (Lloyds Number 86441)
CombinedFleet - IJN TOA MARU No. 2 GO: Tabular Record of Movement
Toa Maru : Lloyd's Register of Ships
Toa Maru No. 2 by Charles Darby Conservation Development Services, New Zealand
Peter Maynard The Toa Maru wreck photos from 1985–1986
Dive Gizo - Toa Maru
Solomon Islands Earthquake and Tsunami Geological Report page 25
Thanks to Dive Gizo Danny Kennedy and Kerrie Kennedy for additional information

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Last Updated
March 30, 2022


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