Rio De Janeiro Maru

The Rio De Janeiro Maru was a 137 meter passenger-cargo liner, built in Japan before WWII. She was a work horse of the pre-war world, carrying emigrants from Japan, to South Africa, Brazil and on to the West Coast of America, before returning home, on many voyages. However, during the war, she became a submarine tender, and then a cargo transport vessel. She arrived in Chuuk six days before Operation Hailstone, full of munitions, and desperately needed supplies. She languished in a slow death, after being hit by several 1,000 pound bombs in the first strikes of the day. It apparently wasn’t until about 3 am the following morning that she finally sank to her current resting ground.

Stacks and stacks of beer bottles sitting in hold number 5 of the Rio. Some of them are still in their original wooden boxes!

Bottles in crates on the wall, no wait, spin around, it is actually the floor, or is it the ceiling, it’s easy to get confused in the gloom. Large letters sitting proud in the lopsided bow, spelling the old name, in both Kanji and Roman lettering, amid the sediment and fish. Swim through in to the large cavernous storage decks, taking a peak in to the last moments of the ship, frozen in time. The static prop, once propelling the tons of steel and men through the water to destinations unknown, now sitting, coated in pristine and colorful coral and fish.

The coral growth along the Rio is very beautiful. As she sits reasonably shallow (10-15 meters on the port side of the hull), one can spend a long time admiring the young ecosystem that has formed.
A lantern that has carefully been placed on the deck of the Rio, to try to encourage people not to scavenge. Sadly, for the future divers, it still happens.

Maximum depth to the seafloor is 35 meters, but her port side sits in a nice shallow 10-17 meters. The holds took us to about 28 meters, but there is so much to look at on her hull, one can spend ages ascending slowly.

On the wreck, directions get changed around, up is port, down is starboard, the floor is the wall and the walls are the floors. This is the portside hand rail.. who knows, someone may have farewelled a loved one holding on to this rail over 80 years ago.

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