Kwajalein Island, located 2,400 miles
southwest of Hawaii is the largest island in
the Marshall Islands. Kwajalein Atoll is the
largest in the world circling a lagoon of
nearly 850 square miles. At one time Kwajalein
was the most important base in the Marshalls
for support of the Japanese war effort.
As of the 1st January 2006, Kwajalein will be
open to the general public. Kwajalein, and
nearby Roi—Namur are US military bases for
radar and tracking. The signs of WWII on land
are almost all but erased, but underwater
there are many shipwrecks and some aircraft
wrecks that are popular dive sites. Given the
war history of the area, it is a very
desirable destination for divers who love the
wrecks or enjoy the lure of lush tropical
Scattered throughout the lagoon, the wrecks
vary in depth from very shallow to over 170'
and are loaded with various types of cargo
including airplanes, ammunition, cars and other
assorted goods. The underwater world of
Kwajalein is a well-kept secret. Kwajalein is
a wreck divers dream. The Island is currently
leased to the U.S. Army and until now has been
closed to the general public.
Visitors to the Marshall Islands can now enjoy
the perfect spot for scuba diving, sport
fishing, bird watching and enjoying tropical
island living in one of the most beautiful
places in the Pacific. The Oleanda is the
first and only dedicated vessel to operate
diving, fishing & kayaking expeditions
exclusively in Marshall Island waters and now
for the first time Kwajalein.
The military history of Kwajalein has made tourism almost non-existent and has kept the environment in pristine condition. Kwajalein lagoon offers excellent wreck diving of mostly Japanese ships, a few planes and a very large German heavy cruiser, the Prinz Eugen.
NOTE: Kwajalein is not open to recreational divers all the time - please check with Dive Adventures before you wish to travel.
Some of the popular Dive sites include:
Prinz Eugen - Sunk on December 22, 1946
after surviving the Bikini Atoll atomic tests.
This German warship, which engaged HMS Hood
and HMS Prince of Wales with the Bismarck, was surrendered to British in
Copenhagen on May 7 1945 and then turned over
to US forces in Germany. The ship was sailed
to the US and was converted into a target ship
IX-300. After the blast, Prinz Eugen was one
of 50 ships that survived the air and
underwater bursts and was then towed to
Kwajalein. There she was inspected for
radiation and bomb damage.
The ship had been weakened by the blast and
began to take on water. Overnight it developed
a 35-degree list and then sank. Its screws and
rudder are partially exposed above water. One
of the screws was removed and returned to
Germany. Divers anchor on the wooden wreck of
small hull in 30 feet of water opposite the
screws. The hull rests against the reef, but
there is an opening at the 90 foot level, just
forward of the bridge.
The bow is at 110 feet
and you can swim under it. There is easy
access to most of the ship. The crew’s
quarters are accessible with remains of bunks
and personal effects. The mess area contains
crockery; a latrine, Machinery and
fire-fighting gear is suspended on the deck.
Amidships much has fallen onto the seabed
including some AA guns and their mounts. Some
items have been recovered from the bridge.
armament two large turrets with twin 8 inch
barrels. Large 4.1 inch guns, dual and quad AA
guns are almost all still intact. Port torpedo
tubes have torpedoes in them. The interior
structure is fairly intact and is safe for
exploration. The ship's armament is intact;
the 8-inch main batteries fell from their
mountings when the Prinz Eugen capsized in
1946, and now lie upside down on the bottom.
Smaller secondary armament and anti-aircraft
weapons, although heavily encrusted with
marine growth, are visible all along the
length of the ship.
The portside torpedo
launcher still remains, and a room nearby
contains a large rack of torpedoes which
should be considered dangerous and not
disturbed. Although the bridge and
superstructure are crushed against the bottom,
many interesting items can be seen both on the
vessel and on the sandy bottom beneath it.
Manta rays, large grouper, and grey reef
sharks are common here, the marine life nicely
rounding out the scenery afforded by this once
The Asakaze Maru - Sunk by a large
group of American aircraft on December 3,
1943. Hit with three 1,000 lb bombs and five
hours later the ship sunk. Around the boat
deck are several empty gun mounts. There is a
inch gun on the bow and a large MG on
starboard side of the wheelhouse. A bomb blew
apart the stern. Another dropped through the
engine room ¼ skylight and totally mangled the
area. The smokestack is leaning over to the
starboard side. The Asakaze has several holds,
all offering great exploration opportunities.
Akibassan Maru - Sunk on January 31
from three direct hits from planes and sank in
five minutes. Discovered in 1965 she lies on a
160-foot bottom. Referred to as "P-buoy"
because of the large buoy near the wreck. In
the No. 1 Hold, piles of various types of
Japanese beer bottles, shoes and broken wooden
crates. Burned planks indicate a fire ripped
through the compartment. The bow has an
anchor, winch and gun platform but no gun. The
forecastle was the crew's quarters, and many
personal effects have been found there over
Aft compartments contain a western
style bathtub with its end chipped off by a
bomb that was later removed. The No. 2 Hold
has seaplane wings and pontoons. No 4 Hold has
large drums, lumber and other things. Easy
access to stern cabins with the equipment and
Many types of large fish in the
vicinity. Groupers are found at the stern.