Photos of Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia

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Chuuk Lagoon

Chuuk (formerly Truk) Lagoon is a large atoll in the making, with a protective reef, 225 kilometres around, enclosing a natural harbour with an area of 2,130 km². In the lagoon are eleven significant islands with a total land area of 93 km² and a population of around 36,000. The main island is Weno (formerly Moen) with the largest town in the FSM, also called Weno; it has almost 14,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the State of Chuuk that also includes the outer island groups to its north, west and south. Mount Tonaachaw (229 metres) rises behind the town and to its east is Wichon Falls on the Wichen river.

Arrival at Weno
Christopher Inn
Berea Evangelical Church
Kristy Store
Harbour in Weno
Ferry to Dublon
Mt. Tannachaw
View to Chuuk Airport
Weno from Mt. Tanaachaw
In Mechitiw
Church of Mechitiw
Chuuk Lagoon
Chuuk Lagoon, Mwan
Xavier High School
Chuuk Lagoon from Xavier High School
View to Tonowas island
Children on a truck
At Wichen Falls
Petroglyphs, Wichon Falls
Pool, Wichon Falls
Chuuk Lagoon
Tonowas island from Eten island
Diver's picnic, Eten island
Small ferry, Eten island
On Tonoas island
Tokyo area, Tonoas
Japanese hospital, Tonoas
Causeway at Nemwanom bay
Old Japanese concrete road, Tonoas
Old Japanese airbase, Tonoas
Junior High School, Tonoas
View to Eten and Uman
Semi molten Japanese oil tank
Fuun Metaw (Star of the Sea)
Looking towards of Kuop
On Uman island
In the Protestant church, Uman
After the service
Playing volleyball
Village view, Uman
Path between houses, Uman
Grafitti in Manukun, Uman
View to Fefan island
Village of Sapou
Benjo, toilet over the lagoon
North coast of Uman island
Passengers on the Microdawn
View of Chuuk Lagoon

Archaeological evidence indicates some of the islands in the lagoon had some human settlement from around the second century BCE and around the 14th century CE the islands were widely settled. The tribes living of the different islands in the lagoon were warring among themselves in the late 19th century, when the Spanish, who claimed the islands were attempting to establish control. By that time there were also a few foreign traders and missionaries living there. But the Spanish never managed to assert control and tribal violence continued, also after the German Empire had bought the Caroline Islands in 1899. During the First World War, the Japanese navy seized the German possessions and after the war Japan took over under their South Seas Mandate.

Truk Lagoon became the main base of the Japanese Empire in the South Pacific during the Second World War. It was heavily fortified and considered the most formidable of all Japanese strongholds in the Pacific. There were airstrips, bunkers, roads and trenches on the islands in the lagoon, all protected by gun and mortar emplacements. A large portion of the Japanese fleet was based here, with battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, submarines; the administrative centre was on the island of Dublon (now Tonowas). But on 17 February 1944 American forces, operating from the Marshall Islands, launched an attack against Truk Lagoon. Named Operation Hailstone, it lasted three days, and when it was over, 12 warships, 32 merchant ships and 275 aircraft had been destroyed; Truk Lagoon was considered “the biggest graveyard of ships in the world”.

Nowadays the lagoon is a favourite location for scuba divers who come to see the many, virtually intact, sunken ships, lying in clear water, many less than 15 metres below the surface and now encrusted in coral, its holds still full of military hardware. And on the island are still the remains of buildings from the Japanese days, like the old hospital and the concrete airbase for flying boats on Tonowas (Dublon). The Roman Catholic Xavier High School is housed in a Japanese bunker, that was part of their Communication Centre, on Weno island. There are still many traces of the war, like Japanese gun emplacements, around the island.