Memorial Day: Palau’s Ghost Fleet

In addition to hot dogs and hamburgers, Memorial Day is a time to remember the brave men and women who have served in the United States Armed Service. 

Underwater photographers are fortunate to get a first hand look at the sweat and sacrifice of those who have served for their country in battle—scattered across the Pacific, WW2 relics make for compelling and haunting images.

Jake's Sea Plane is just one of a handful of Japanese aircraft left over from Operation Desecrate One.

There is perhaps no better example of the prowess of the United States marine than the Ghost Fleet of Palau—more than 30 Japanese ships and planes sunk during Operation Desecrate One. Along with the attack on Truk Lagoon (Japan’s Pearl Harbor), Operation Desecrate One marks the biggest attack of the US Navy during WW2. 

I had the chance to photograph the Ghost Fleet last summer on an assignment to Palau. It is a reminder not only of the American’s victory in the Pacific front, but also the harsh realities of war—that history is more than just about the winners. 

The Teshio Maru is the largest known wreck in Palau, whose large bow cuts through the gloomy waters of the inner lagoon. 

Japanese helmets and other supplies are all that's left on the accurately nicknamed "Helmet Wreck"

Coral-encrusted guns are littered about the wrecks--along with gas masks, saki bottles, and ammunition.

A diver explores a plane wreck in the shallows of Palau.

Massive guns still guard the wreck of the Iro Maru, which lies in 100-feet of water. 

 The Iro Maru is perhaps the most famous wreck of the Ghost Fleet, brimming with life such as these schooling silverside fish and a resident shoal of bar jacks. 

The Iro Maru is perhaps the most famous wreck of the Ghost Fleet, brimming with life such as these schooling silverside fish and a resident shoal of bar jacks. 

More images of Palau's Ghost Fleet can be seen in the gallery below. Happy Memorial Day!