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You are here: /main/research/NOWRAMP 2002/journals/Landing Craft/


Ship Logs

Laysan Shore Survey
Laysan Island
Posted by Dr. Hans Van Tilburg, Maritime Archaeology and History Team Leader
September 17, 2002

Kaiyo Maru bow on Laysan.  Photo by Jim Watt.The most obvious wreck on Laysan is the Kaiyo Maru no. 25, a Japanese fishing vessel that went aground in 1969 at the south end of the island. While the wreck was relatively intact in the early 1980s, it is now a testimony to the incessant power of the ocean. Only the bow section, twisted steel and broken decks, emerges now from the beach sand. Large sections of steel hull were torn from the vessel and are buried nearby. Towards the end of our photo documentation of the ship's bow today, a monk seal emerged from the waves near the vessel. We retreated to leave the animal in peace. The rest of the ship may lie offshore in the surf zone, or perhaps it's completely buried by the beach. We'll dive the area offshore tomorrow.

The team hiked the perimeter of Laysan Island today, observing all kinds of flotsam and jetsam tossed onto the beach: buoys, fishing gear, disarticulated ship timbers, glass bottles, deep sea data collection devices, and plastics of all kinds. The remains of a small bamboo raft, once lashed together with black nylon line, are puzzling. The bamboo raft tradition, one of the most ancient roots of shipbuilding, has been observed in modern times in places like Southeast Asia. But would a small bamboo boat survive a long drift at sea to a place like Laysan Island? It's possible that these pieces are what's left of a fish aggregation device (FAD), small rafts built to drift at sea trailing lines or nets. Such objects attract fish and are later located by radio transponder.

Of the more historic wrecks in the area, no trace was seen of the Hawaiian schooner CC Kennedy, which went aground on Laysan in bad weather in 1905 (crew rescued 20 days later). Likewise, the Ceylon, one of the oldest ships in the local Hawaiian trades, vanished in the general area in 1902.

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Dr. Hans Van Tilburg
Dr. Hans Van Tilburg

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