This Type 97 light tank rests at a depth of 120 feet on the deck of the Nippo Maru, one
of nearly 50 famed World War II Japanese shipwrecks at Truk lagoon, part of Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia. The
Nippo was sunk on February 17, 1944 during a surprise attack by the
American Task Force 58 entitled "Operation Hailstorm".
Wreck diving is an entirely separate dive discipline, with a different
type of appeal. A good reef dive may involve diving to only 60 feet to
see the majority of the corals and animal life. Wrecks may be over 80
feet tall, at depths so great they cannot be seen from 50 feet below the
surface. Generally the colors are bland because of the light filtration
with depth and the fact that only the outer structure accommodates soft
corals and other reef life; the inside of a wreck almost certainly has
no current and the water is so clear it's as though it were air.
Combining the experience of pitch darkness inside a wreck, pierced only
by your light beam, with the unfamiliar surroundings, and the absolutely
eerie, deep rumbling sound of your bubbles echoing off the metal walls
is an unforgettable experience.
Truk is considered to be the world's premier wreck diving location. The
pristine condition of the wrecks, the fact that many were only
recently discovered, and the protection they are offered by the
government of Chuuk State are all factors that contribute to the
exceptional quality of the diving there.