Sometimes we forget that "wreck" means "accident," often with the loss of human life. After many years, the plane or the ship remains and we get excited to dive deep under the sea to get a glimpse at this part of history, though we may not know or think about what happened and who was there. In this page, we want to share with you the testimony of people who were there when the inccident happened, so that we can all better understand the history we see on our dives. For technical information or reports, please contact us or visit our dive shop.
A Real Story Under the HU-16 Wreck
I am Hastig Osamu Abraham, I was 9 yrs old and still remember perfectly that day in Lelu: 25th June 1973. I was with some relatives, standing on shore watching the plane that should have left Kosrae. It was a navy plane based in (Guam U.S.A).
The plane arrived on June 25, 1973 noon time. As I can remember there were 9 or 10 people on that plane including the pilot and the radio operator. I remember most people watching on shore were quite nervous because the boarding operation was taking time and the plane had to leave before dark. Finally they were ready. Before the plane take off from the water, the pilot has to make a couple of round, it was taking a lot of time before it could start taking off. Maybe there was a problem in the plane or with the plane. When trying to lift off the plane actually seemed to hit something, rolled and crashed up side down in the water. It was between the hours 4:30 to 5:00 pm, June 25, 1973. I was watching the fire with my relatives on shore. Because of the explosion of the plane, the fire spread all over the water.
My mother and my father were in that plane. The plane came to pick up and transport my mother Kenye to get some treatment in Guam, because she was very ill. My father Osamu was with her to escort her. According to what I still can recall, my mother was found still alive she realized that my father was dead and died right away. As I can recall, they found my father flooding on the surface of the water on his fasten seat belt. The Radio Operator Sgt McGraw was also dead. They found one of his leg floating a day later.
Few years ago I learnt dive, I wanted to see that place. The site was around 90ft deep. I was impressed when I touched one of the wheel and the rubber seems to be still very strong. It was emotional to see the plane that took my parents away from us.
Thank you for reading our story!!
Hastig Osamu Abraham.
The U.S. Navy HU-16 amphibious plane is still in very good condition under the sea in Lelu Harbor. It was a plane not used anymore in the 70s, except in the Trust Territory. It's not easy to find written information about the event. Thanks to the help of Fr. Cavanagh and Fr. Hezel from Micronesian Seminar (we can say the historical memory of Micronesia) we have today a copy of two newspaper articles reporting the incident. When diving there, you can see inside the plane a lady bag with a Pentax camera, ear protections and some other personal stuff, and next to the wreck an untouched IV bottle.
Another crash on take off: US NAVY PBM
"Mail was scheduled to be flown in twice a week, but the first attemp at airmail service met with disaster as the arriving PBM crashed on a reef on take-off. After that mail was airdropped, sometimes on the beach and sometimes in the water".
US NAVY PBM 1951
Sansun Maru or Ebon Maru a story from Freddy
"It was 1944, we were a gang offloading the ship, and I was working with two soldiers. While we were stevadoring, suddenly, here came three American sentoki around the far end of the island down there. They were very low and in a V formation. As soon as they levelled off they began strafing the ship and us. We ran like mad for that large rock you can still see across from the dock. (It is about the size of a compact car). On that first pass the soldier on my left was shot. He was only inches away from me. The soldier on my right was wounded. Nothing happened to me. On the second pass, the soldier on my right had put his rifle on my shoulder for a brace and fired a time or two, then fell silent. After the planes passed, I looked around at him. Dead! That left me. Now the planes returned flying high, and dropped their bombs. The ship was sunk. After it was all over, I made my way home. Whew. He paused. There was another time too, even closer than that. Well, you can see the hill there at the near end of the island. During the war, there was an observation tower on the top, and my assignment was to man a large telescope which was stored in a cave-storehouse down the hill. When I went on duty, another guy and I would get the scope, carry it up the stairs, mount it on it's permanent mount and scan the horizon as lookouts for approaching ships and planes. Kusaie had been shelled in the past and we could sound the warning in advance to give people time to take cover. We finished our shift on this particular day, stored the telescope and went off duty. At the base of the hill along the road between here and the hill, there was a restaurant where off duty soldiers could buy a meal. We usually went there to eat. The restaurant was not very large. We went in, found a table and ordered. Suddenly, blam! A sentoki had come in with the engine idled doing a glide bomb run, dropped the bomb then gunned the engine and climbed. We were the target. It went right thru the restaurant without hitting a thing, and exited where the foundation and wall on the other side of building met. It then skidded along the groud and wound up resting against a tree. It was a dud! Army personnel took it away and detonated it. Had it gone off--curtains!"
Waverly and Harriet, and Leonora
Journal of a Cruise in the Waverly, under Capt. Cathcart.
Page 21. "I forget how many days it was before we made Strong Island, it was in the night time but the scene of beauty that broke upon us at daylight I shall never forget." And continue"The tall well formed nearly naked Natives ornamented with flowers of sweetness and beauty, while around where swimming crowds of bot sex dislaying as much ease and gracefulness....." Page 22: "The natives at Strong Island had the name of being the most friendly of the South Seas to Europeans and whilst we remained.." The remainder of the pages in the manuscript narrate the riotous living that the crew enjoyed, mentioning the great excesses of feasting, drinking and womanizing. Waverly met her fate in Kosrae. Captain Cathcart not only encouraged his crew to find relaxation on the island, he was accused of abuducting a chief's daughter. The chief retaliated with his men, seized the ship, killed the captain and crew, and burned the vessel.
In 1842, Captain Charles Ducher and the entire crew of the British whaler, Harriet, were murdered and the ship burned.