October 31, 2018

Japan: Results of September’s search for the wreck of the Kanrin Maru

In September, the Maritime Programme of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology conducted a diving survey in a joint effort to locate the shipwreck of the 'Kanrin Maru' (1857–1871).

Searching for wrecks and knowledge
Over the course of three days, Japanese divers plunged into the waters near Kikonai (Hokkaido) in northern Japan, scouring the seabed for clues that could lead them to their mark: a wooden wreck of unknown origin, sighted near the spot where Japan’s Dutch-built steam schooner the Kanrin Maru sank in 1871. While the target of the search was the wreck of the Kanrin Maru, the underlying goal was to exchange knowledge.

Tough underwater conditions
Little was known beforehand about the underwater conditions, apart from descriptions provided by locals. Currents and relatively low visibility hampered the search. The real nemesis, however, was a jungle of seagrass, occasionally reaching heights of five metres. While the team did come close to where the wreckage was last sighted, they could not continue without running the risk of getting tangled up in the seagrass. The search therefore had to be concluded before anything could be found. For now, the project has been shelved. For more about the project, see the Maritime Heritage website.