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April 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 28, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Another Chuuk Option: the Truk Odyssey

from the April, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Clearly the Chuuk liveaboard of choice, the Truk Odyssey caters to serious mixed-gas divers as well as others. S. Lori Brown (Bellevue, WA) was aboard in March and reports, "The dive briefings given by Captain J.J. and Kim, the dive guide and instructor, were always detailed and complete. They included what was known of the ship's history as well as the shipwreck's history. Because J.J. and Kim have been diving these wrecks for nearly eight years, they had insight into the changes. Each briefing was accompanied by a diagram of the ship and details on points of interest. On my six-day trip, it was clear the daily schedule was well planned so that each dive seemed better than the last, with our final destination being the deepest dive of the trip, the San Francisco Maru.

"Some sights on the wrecks included the engine rooms, gauges, tanks, bullets, torpedoes, rolls of chain-link fence, warheads, trucks, airplane wings, lanterns, guns, gas masks, periscopes, a medicine kit with ampules presumed to be morphine, and some human remains. Mundane objects like a bicycle, clocks, sake bottles, broken china, and blue shirts were strewn throughout the ships. Some of the ships were encrusted with marine life.

"There was a build-up to the final day's dive of the "Million Dollar Wreck," the San Francisco Maru, which sunk upright to a depth of 165 feet on the deck and down to 200 feet at the ship's propeller. It has three tanks on the deck and a bow gun with an anchor sitting next to it. For me, one of the best dives was on the Rio de Janeiro, which had been a cruise ship taken over by the Japanese and used as a cargo ship, then for transport of soldiers. I dove alone on this ship, and sometimes when you're alone with just the sound of your breath and a 460-footlong wreck towering over you, you get a feeling about the immensity of what happened in the spring of 1944.

"As for more routine observations, my cabin was small and faintly tinged with a mildew odor. The bathroom was hardly large enough to turn around, and more than just tinged with a mildew odor. The food was very plain, and just adequate.

"On the final day, we had a grim reminder. An unconscious diver was lifted from the water onto one of the dayboats that carries divers to the sites."

There is a recompression chamber in Chuuk and many people have been trained to operate it, however, medical facilities are poor and this is no place to get bent.

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