The Teshio is another converted Japanese merchant marine ship that sank during Operation Desecrate One.
She is 321 feet long with a beam of 45 feet and offers ample opportunity for penetration and exploration. There are two large holds towards the bow from the superstructure which is slightly aft of amidships and two holds near the aft. She had a coal-fired triple expansion steam engine.
The Japanese had detected signs of the attack and started to move and escort freighters and other ships out of Koror. Some F6F Hellcats that were out on patrol detected the convoy and attacked it. Shortly thereafter, SBD Dauntless dive-bombers, TBF Avengers torpedo-bombers and SB2C Helldiver aircrafts continued the attack. The ships tried to retreat but they were in a channel and we had air-dropped mines to block their escape.
The Teshio turned around and started to head back south towards the main channel in hopes of reaching Koror.
She was strafed, torpedoed, and bombed. One bomb hit the starboard side of Hold No. 1 and another bomb hit the stern and exploded inside which damaged the steering gear. She drifted aimlessly in the current until she beached on the reef. She was partially salvaged while on the reef. After a period of time, she slipped off the reef and sank parallel to the coral slope coming to rest on her starboard side.
The visibility is usually pretty good at the Teshio. In fact, on the day we did our dive, it was probably 50+ feet. Given the depth, you can usually get a decent bottom time even on a single tank of gas. But, it is a big wreck so you likely will need more gas, a rebreather, or multiple trips to really explore everything.
Below is a diagram from Rod Macdonald’s excellent book on the wrecks in Palau.
Below is a link to a photogrammetry model that somebody built. You can see the massive hole on the port side near the superstructure where they used explosives to open it up to salvage parts from the engine room.
Below are some photos of key features of the wreck along with some commentary.
I found this to be one of the more dramatic areas of the wreck. The anchors are still in the hawses since the ship was underway when it sank. I didn’t get any pictures of the anchor but did swim away from the wreck and got a few good pictures in the good visibility. I also got some close-ups of the gun and the railings along the raised forecastle.
The boat was tied off to a line attached to the bridge section so I spent some time taking a few pictures while on my safety stop.
The stern section of the wreck is a bit of a twisted mess. The salvors used a ton of explosives to blast the engine room room to access all the non-ferrous parts of the engine room area.
We spent some time swimming around on the inside of the cargo areas and other parts of the wreck. The photos below are meant to give a sense of the scale of the ship and some of the inside areas.
Here are some other pictures of the ship that I found interesting.
These are mainly notes for myself for things to see on my return trip. There is plenty more to explore on this wreck!
- Anchors at the bow
- Crew area in the forecastle
- Hole in the forward hold on the starboard side where the bomb hit (see the seabed floor below)
- Broken smokestack behind the superstructure (look for markings on the smokestack)
- Explore the superstructure (radio room and accommodations on lower level , bridge deck, etc)
- Engine room (largely salvaged)
- Very end of the stern wide-angle photo
Dive Palau The Shipwrecks by Rod Macdonald