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JAPANESE TRANSPORT SHIP - TOTSUTORI MARU DIVE EXPEDITION
HOW IT ALL BEGIN?
How it all begin? We received the information from the Admiralty
Office on the 8th of July 1997 about sunken vessels in the proximity
of Tenggol Island and for the first time we noticed the Totsutori
THE SEARCH FOR THE VESSEL
Several attempts was make since August to locate the vessel
and finally on the 18th of October 1997 with the help of a skilful
local fisherman the pioneer group located the wreck.
THE PIONEER EXPEDITION
The expedition leader, Michael Lim that an expedition will be
planned for May 1998 to document this interesting vessel, decided
it. Research will commence immediately. Information about this
vessel was virtually impossible. Limited information are gathered
Name: Totsutori Maru
Type: Army cargo Vessel
Tonnage: 5,978 GRT
Date Sunk: 150543
With this limited information many unanswered questions is left
to be answered by the expedition.
The following information were gathered after the first assignment;
• Vessel is broken
• Gen.depth is 90ft.
Max. depth is 110ft
• Integrity of vessel –
• Hazards – Nets, sharp twisted metal,
marine growth and corals, rusted metal.
position – lying on portside
The second section remain a mystery.
Objectives of Expedition
The objective of the team is to find out what happened
to the wreck. How did it sink? Who is responsible for
the sinking? What cargoes were she carrying? How big exactly
is she? Etc.
The team conducted a short ceremony to pay tribute to
the crew of the vessel during the anniversary on the 15th
of May. A wreath of flowers will toss and later brought
down and tied to the bridge portion of the wreck.
Marcel being a Swiss coming from a neutral country was
given the honor to escort the flowers and done the tie-off
Many items are spotted:
1. An American make torchlight
2. An English make light ceramic
3. A metal disc with chinese wordings
4. A bottle with chinese inscription
5. 2 anti-aircraft machine guns
It was confusing at first when western items were examine.
There were times we thought we will diving a different
wreck however we later learn the bottle was our evidence
that this vessel is indeed the Totsutori Maru or better
known Tottori Maru.
The wreck is broken into two parts and most parts are
buried and fallen off.
We have the honor of having Malaysia’s most popular
TV network TV3 at the expedition. They are featuring the
expedition in their series "TV3 Magazine" on
the 24th May at 10.00pm.
Post Trip Research
Like many other wrecks they start revealing more about
themselves as you dive more and stay hard-working and
dig in further. We found a host of new interesting information
that has brought new light to our understanding.
First we found out the fact it was so difficult to obtain
any information was that the vessel was known as Tottori
Maru during the war. According to Charles Hocking’s
Dictionary of Disaster at Sea. Tottori Maru was built
in 1913 in the Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Japan Mail
Steamship Co.Ltd and owned by Russell & Co. She was
a 5,973 gross tonnage vessel with a length of 423.4 feet,
a beam of 56 feet and draught of 28.7 feet. She was running
with triple expansion engines with 556 n.h.p. each. She
was recorded to have been torpedoed and sunk by U.S. submarine
Hammerhead on May 15th, 1945.
SEEKING THE TRUTH
It would have seem that the only way to find out the truth
was to tally a set of information. According to John D.Aden
book, U.S. Submarine Attacks during WWII, it is reported
in page 9 that the U.S. Silversides on May 17th ,1942
at 1700 hrs, fired 2 torpedoes at Tottori Maru in Manila.
She had 4 explosions, suffered heavy damage but did not
Than flipping to page 197, U.S. submarine Hammerhead belonging
to Patrol 6 spotted an approximately 5700 tons Japanese
army cargo vessel in the night of May 15th, 1945 . Fired
3 torpedos at 000 hrs at Tottori Maru, one missed and
hit the beach while the other 2 landed on her. With this
information it seems to reveal the truth when the crew
of TV3 informed us that they have gone to Kota Bahru and
interviewed 2 elderly in separate occasion and both of
them claim to have seen an explosion on Tanjung Jara beach
follow by a big ship sinking a slight distance away on
the night of May 15th, 1945.
It did occur to our team when diving that the vessel is
blown up into 2 halves possibly by torpedoes or mines.
Further research also tells us Tottori Maru was commissioned
as a prisoner vessel and one of her historic trip was
on October 8,1942. She was destined for Pusan in Korea
carrying 1,930 prisoners of war from Manila. 10 were thrown
overboard after dying from starvation and hardship.
It seems apparent that she frequent Pusan in Korea and
with reference to the chinese inscription on the bottle
we found, it is written Korean-Japanese Dry Batteries
Company- For Navy Use. The 2 anti-aircraft machines guns
that was discovered during the expedition is also confirmed
to be Japanese when one of the team diver chip a round
disc on the turret and it has chinese writing stating
it is property of the Japanese army.
We hope we have managed to unravel the facts of the Tottori
Maru but we somehow feel that this is still only the beginning.
A filming trip is planned for 1999 to make a documentary
on this wreck and to further solve her mystery. The tentative
date is planned for a 10 days expedition in August onboard
a dive vessel.
This production will show the cruelty and hardship of
slaves onboard a prisoner vessel during WWII. It will
also cover what happened to the Tottori Maru and her people
onboard. A tribute will also be filmed and the team will
involve Japanese and American to document their feelings