In 2015, Rod published Dive Truk Lagoon – the Japanese WWII Pacific shipwrecks, for which he had 20 of the most famous Truk wrecks illustrated by renowned maritime artist Rob Ward. With many changes in the existing wrecks and the discovery in 2018 of Truk’s latest wreck, an as yet unidentified Japanese WWII Salvage and Electricity Generating Tug off Weno, Rod is now publishing an updated 2nd edition in the fall of 2023 - with photography by Ewan Rowell, Pete Mesley and Mike Boring.

The book has been fully rewritten and includes much information that has come to light since the 1st edition – and he has had another 20 of the famous Truk wrecks illustrated such as the oiler Hoyo Maru, the Katsuragisan Maru – the deepest wreck in Truk – along with classics such as Momokawa Maru, Nagano Maru and Reiyo Maru – as well as the new wreck of the as yet unidentified IJN Salvage Tug. All this has increased the book from the 263 pages of the 1st edition to 404 pages


Above: At the bow of the transport ship San Francisco Maru, an 8cm bow gun is swung out to port on its bandstand platform. Boxes of ready use shells can be seen below the barrel. The upright foremast can be seen in the distance and guardrails rails still line the weather deck. A spare anchor is neatly secured on deck behind the breakwater just below. (Courtesy Ewan Rowell)

Below: Looking into the command bridge of Nippo Maru from the starboard side – the bow of the ship is off to the right of shot. Helm telemotor, with engine order telegraph beside and forward of it. (Courtesy Ewan Rowell).


The 50-mile wide lagoon of Truk Atoll, far out in the remote expanses of the Pacific, is quite simply the greatest wreck diving location in the world. Scores of virtually intact Japanese WWII wrecks of transport ships, still filled with cargoes of tanks, trucks, artillery, beach mines, shells and aircraft, rest in the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon - along with two Japanese destroyers and one submarine – each today a man-made reef teeming with sea life.

The seemingly impregnable fortress islands of Truk Atoll was, during the early days of WW II, a powerful air base and the main forward anchorage for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Protected by an almost circular 140-mile coral barrier reef that had only five heavily defended entrances, it seemed a well-protected and safe anchorage. The lagoon had been fortified by the Japanese in great secrecy during the 1930s – the Allies knew little about it.

But by 1944, the tide of war had turned against the Japanese – the Allies were pushing westwards across the Pacific islands towards the Japanese homeland. On 4 February 1944, a daring 2,000-mile long-range U.S. reconnaissance flight revealed the Truk lagoon to be full of the might of the Imperial Japanese Navy; battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers, along with scores of large supply ships and transports. The Allies decided to attack immediately.


Above: Rod hangs above a Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go light tank carried as deck cargo on the port side of requisitioned transport ship San Francisco Maru just in front of the collapsed bridge superstructure. (Courtesy Ewan Rowell)

Below: Artist’s impression of the wreck of the requisitioned 10,020grt merchant tanker Sinkoku Maru, which was hit by a bomb on the port side aft at her machinery spaces during the night radar guided attack by Enterprise planes. She settled by the stern and came to rest on the seabed in 40 metres of water. The large RAS tripod for refueling other ships under way at sea is on the port side.


Sensing this, the Imperial Japanese Navy scattered - but the merchant ships had to remain, as crews rushed to offload their war cargoes of aircraft, tanks, artillery, mines and munitions. Other heavily laden supply ships continued to arrive from Japan, unaware of the Allied assault plans.

Task Force 58, a fast carrier strike force, was formed for an immediate attack – codename, Operation HAILSTONE. In total secrecy, nine U.S. aircraft carriers, holding more than 500 combat aircraft, steamed towards Truk – supported by a screen of battleships, cruisers, destroyers and submarines.

At dawn on 17 February 1944, an initial fighter sweep of Truk by 72 F6F Hellcat fighters roared in over Truk under Japanese radar – catching the Japanese by complete surprise. The Hellcats immediately began strafing Japanese airfields.

As Japanese planes rose up to take on the Hellcats, soon hundreds of aircraft were involved in one of the largest aerial dogfights of WW II. But the F6F Hellcat was by now vastly superior to the Japanese Zero fighter, and the Japanese planes were shot out of the sky within an hour.


Above: The 14cm (5.5-inch) defensive gun atop the Aikoku Maru poop island. (Courtesy Ewan Rowell)

Below: New illustration of the deepest wreck in Truk lagoon, the 2,427grt cargo ship Katsuragisan Maru. Built in 1925 for Mitsui Bussan K.K., she was requisitioned in WWII for use as a transport ship. When arriving at Truk Atoll with a cargo, she hit a friendly mine as she entered the Truk lagoon via Northeast Pass, which had, unknown to her captain, been closed off and mined by Japan.


With air superiority established, U.S dive-bombers and torpedo-bombers spent two days sinking all the large ships trapped in the lagoon – none escaped. Truk had been neutralised as a naval and air base – it was by passed and cut off, its garrison of 30,000 troops began to starve.

The sunken ships of Truk Lagoon, with their war cargoes, were largely forgotten about until 1969, when an expedition by Jacques Cousteau located and filmed many of the wrecks. The resulting TV documentary, Lagoon of Lost Ships, went viral. Truk’s secret was out – and the beautiful wrecks, untouched since WWII, have proved an irresistible lure for thousands of divers each year since then.


Above: 30-ft Long Lance torpedoes stand nose down inside Hold No 2 od the submarine tender Heian Maru. Each has two counter rotating propellers (Courtesy Ewan Rowell)

Below: The wreck of a Mitsubishi G4M Navy Type 1 long range Attack Bomber (Allied reporting name BETTY) lies in about 27 metres.


When the 1st edition of Dive Truk Lagoonthe Japanese WWII Shipwrecks was released in 2014, it immediately established itself as the definitive guide to diving these fabled shipwrecks. 21 specially commissioned illustrations of the most commonly dived Truk wrecks were indispensable aids to divers planning their dives. But since then, another shipwreck, lost since WWII, has been found and the wrecks have naturally changed and degraded over time.

New illustrations of most of the previously unillustrated wrecks have now been specially created - to expand and update this book and make it the most comprehensive guide to diving Truk Lagoon that has even been produced. 

About the Author

Rod Macdonald is an internationally renowned Scottish shipwreck explorer, undersea adventurer and best-selling diving author of 13 books to date about wreck diving and military history. He has located, dived and surveyed many lost shipwrecks and his beautifully illustrated books about world famous dive locations such Dive Scapa Flow, Dive Truk Lagoon and Dive Palau are the internationally accepted definitive guides.

Rod is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and a Patron of its Great Britain & Ireland Chapter. When not writing or exploring shipwrecks he is a big boat yachtsman, ex lifeboat man and RNLI Operations Manager, an RYA Advanced Powerboat Instructor and a Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) instructor.