On the night of the 15-16th November 1942 one of the major naval battles of the Solomons was being conducted near Savo Island known as the “Barroom Brawl”. The Japanese Navy was to provide cover for a transport convoy of some 7,000 troops. While the capital ships were involved in the melee off Savo, the transports slipped by un-noticed and commenced unloading troops and supplies.
The next morning (16th) , reconnaissance by Marine pilots discovered the Hirokawa, Kinugawa, Yamatsuki and Yamaura Marus close to shore. The ships came quickly under attack from the Marines' SBDs. As loss was inevitable, the ships were then beached so that more supplies could be disgorged from their holds. The bottom, fortunately for us as divers now, drops off quite quickly and the Hirokawa and Kinugawa lie very close to shore which makes for easy access.
The Hirokawa Maru, also known locally as the Bonegi 1, lies in 3-56m water. At depth, the rear holds lie intact with some easy penetrations. The central machine areas were heavily salvaged during the 60s and 70s, but the engine is still easily visible along with the crank shaft and gear box at bilge level. The shallows now form a magnificent coral garden, so safety stops or deco is a pleasure, with more than blue water to look at.