Aikoku Maru was built as an ocean liner for about four hundred passengers, but had only a brief civilian career. The ship was converted into what was called an "armed merchant raider" and became essentially a pirate ship, seizing enemy merchant shipping on the high seas.
In February 1944: Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58's five fleet carriers and four light carriers, supported by six battleships, ten cruisers and 28 destroyers, launch air attacks on airfields, shore installations and ships in Truk Lagoon. Mitscher launches 30 strikes of at least 150 aircraft each. Beginning at dawn, the strikes are launched about every hour for two days. FourthFleet anchorage, E side of Dublon Island, at dawn, on the first day of the raids, planes from Intrepid (CV-11) attack Akikou Maru. The first bomb hits the officers' wardroom galley and starts a fire that spreads quickly. She takes three more hits by bombs. During the next attack, at about 0830, a Mark 13 aerial torpedo hits her No. 1 hold and sets off ordnance that shears off the entire fore ship. The Akikou Maru sinks in two minutes at 07-22N, 151-56E along with the attacking Grumman Avenger, most of the ships' crew including Captain Nakamaruo and 945 sailors, passengers and men of the First Brigade.
This wreck is really interesting. Visibility is normally really good as it is one of the deeper wrecks on the lagoon. Max depth of 210 ft (64 m) to the sand and up to 125 ft (38 m) to the top of the mangled superstructure. Because this is such a massive ship, you can penetrate quite a few areas within the superstructure and in the holds. But penetration into the holds is discouraged mainly because this ship was blown in two by the sheer force of 1000lb bombs and you can easily see how brittle things are. There is a large gun on the stern which is great for taking pictures. Penetration in the superstructure can be entered from the port bulkhead just forward of hold 4. Props can be seen easily but this is on the sand at 207 ft (63 m).
These unique cards provide detailed depiction of Akiko Maru wreck and reef. Each waterproof card is double sided, made of durable PVC plastic and is designed to be taken on the dive. They are also three hole punched to fit in standard log books or on lanyards.