Team From Japan Removes Depth Charges From Palau Wreck

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

WWII-era munitions from Helmet Wreck safely demolished

By Jose Rodriguez T. Senase

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Dec. 20, 2015) – The Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) has recovered two large Japanese-made, World War II-era depth charges from the Helmet Wreck off Malakal.

According to Mr. Tanigawa, head of the JMAS office here, the depth charges that they recovered were of the Type 2 model. They were taken from the Helmet Wreck in late November 2015.

According to him, those type anti-submarine weapons are known as fused depth-charges.

"They are dangerous because they are the type of depth charges that are ready to fire and explode," he disclosed.

The Type 2 depth charge is cylindrical in shape, 17.56 inches in diameter and 30.5 inches long. That kind of depth charge comes in two models, the Type 1 and Type 2.

The Type 2, Mod. 1 was filled with 357 pounds of Type 97 or Type 98 explosive and the Mod. 2 with 242 pounds of Type 1 explosive.

The depth charges discovered weigh 240 kilograms and are believed to be of the Type 2 Model 2 version.

According to Tanigawa, the depth charges that JMAs divers and personnel recovered were some of the several hundred depth charges left at the bottom of Helmet Wreck.

"Most of them are smaller types of depth charges," he said.

According to him, most of the depth charges were thrown overboard and sunk to the bottom of the sea when the Japanese warships carrying them were sunk by US air attacks during the height of US aerial attacks on Palau. Palau hosted important naval bases and staging area of Japanese naval forces during World War II.

Balkuu Kumangai, Palau’s National Safety Officer, said the recovered depth charges were transported to a raft mooring point, then to Surangel Dock, and finally to a demolition site in Aimeliik State.

It was learned that Cleared Ground Demining (CGD) demolished the depth charges on Dec. 6, 2015. Several mock demolitions were held around the site before the actual demolition was made.

JMAS is a Japanese NGO engaging in the clearance of landmines and UXOs around the world, including Palau.

The group has been clearing the Helmet Wreck of unexploded ordnance (UXOs) for more than a year now.

A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) weapon intended to destroy or cripple a target submarine by being dropped into the water close to its target and detonating, subjecting the target to a powerful and destructive hydraulic shock.

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