Thursday, 26 November 2015

Finally dived the IJN Oite today

The Oite has been one of my must see wrecks since the last time I was here in 2012. And couldn't dive it because no trips were going that way. 

The wreck is about 12 miles away on completely the opposite side of the lagoon to all the others and takes over an hour in the dive boat to get there. The trip is well worth while as the wreck is sitting on a flat sandy bottom a little over 60m deep, split in two just in front of the bridge with the stern section upright and the bow about 20m off and inverted. There are so many interesting features on the wreck it is hard to single them out but the midships main gun and the anti aircraft guns are all clearly identifiable along with the depth charges and launchers on the stern.  Because the wreck is so deep decompression starts as soon as you reach the wreck so time is very precious once you are there even so getting an over view of the wreck still resulted in over 100 minutes of  decompression time for less than 40 minutes diving the wreck.

In many ways the story of the Oite is a very sad one as she really should not have been in Truk at all. The ship was on its way to Saipan with the cruiser Agano when about 160 miles from Truk the Agano was struck by a torpedo from the American submarine Skate. The Agano did not sink quickly and the Oite had time to rescue around 450 men and transfer fuel from the stricken vessel. After the Agano sank the Oite was ordered to return to Truk, unfortunately arriving just as the American air raid was taking place, she was ordered to turn round but by that time the ship was inside the lagoon and spotted trying to make her escape. A torpedo struck her amidships and secondary explosions, possibly from the boilers blew the vessel in two sinking her in seconds. Only around 20 of the Oite crew and those rescued  from the Agano  survived and today their remains can be found littering the wreck site, making it a very sobering dive in reflection. 

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