October 8, 2013 – Chuuk (Truk), Federated States of Micronesia
Micronesia is another country made up of widely scattered islands and atolls. The Island of Chuuk, which was formerly called Truk, is home to Weno, the largest community in Micronesia, but is not the capital. Prior to World War II, Chuuk was a territory of Japan, and in preparation for the war it was built up as a naval and air facility. It was home to the headquarters of Japan’s Pacific fleet, and was the Japanese equivalent of Pearl Harbor. It has a very large and protected lagoon, with many substantial islands capable of building and operating airfields, and was the major supply and ship rebuilding center for the Japanese in the Pacific.
Chuuk’s formation is similar to Bora Bora, in French Polynesia, with atolls surrounding mountain peaks – the mountain peaks having sunk over millions of years, so now they are islands poking up from the lagoon.
Early in 1944, Chuuk (then Truk) was attacked by planes from aircraft carriers, battleships and submarines, virtually destroying the Japanese pacific fleet and most of its aircraft. Many of the submerged wrecks are still in the lagoon and are now popular dive sites.
This is a shot of the harbor at Weno, and I couldn’t tell if the sunken ship in the middle, left side of the photo was from the Japanese fleet, or was a later addition. The one in the foreground is obviously newer.
We experienced the first unpleasant weather of the trip, as it began pouring as we left the ship, considerably shortening our shore excursion. Fortunately, it didn’t look as though we missed much, although I talked to some of our more adventuresome fellow passengers who were able to hire driver to take them to some Japanese fortifications, still in place with machine guns and artillery.
This shot was taken as we sheltered from the storm on the porch of a local church – note the water depth in the parking lot.