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WWII Japanese tunnel found in Puerto Rico

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FRED C. Camacho said he found a World War II-era Japanese tunnel in Puerto Rico in early 2015 while searching for a rumored mini submarine access tunnel that the Japanese forces built near the Tanapag harbor.

“That was what I [was] looking for,” he added.

“The area was very fitting for it, I thought at first. The tunnel is near the harbor and located near a huge concrete WWII 9-million-gallon water reservoir probably used to supply battle ships,” he added.

Camacho said the concrete water reservoir is one of four in the area.

The Japanese tunnel, screened by thick foliage, is located between the Shell gas station and Tropical Laundry in Puerto Rico.

Camacho said based on the Japanese characters inscribed at the  entrance to the tunnel, it was built on June 7, 1944 —  eight days before the U.S. invasion of the island.

Fred C. Camacho poses inside the fortified tunnel in Puerto Rico.

 

 

Fred Cabrera Camacho, cave explorer, at the entrance to a WWII Japanese tunnel in the area between the Shell gas station and Tropical Laundry in Puerto Rico. Photos by Bryan Manabat

The fortified tunnel is six feet wide, about eight feet high, and 80-90 feet in length, Camacho said, adding that concrete on all sides is more than 5 inches thick.

Camacho said the end of the tunnel was sealed off, probably blocked during the construction of Tropical Laundry.

Camacho said before Typhoon Soudelor hit Saipan, he had  brought East Carolina University researchers and archaeologists to the tunnel.

He said the local Historical Preservation Office did not know about the tunnel at that time.

Camacho also performs voluntary work with a Japanese non-profit organization, Kuentai-USA, which searches for and repatriates the remains of WWII service members on Saipan.

“When I first saw them digging at Tanapag, where I knew there was a mass gravesite, I volunteered to help,” Camacho said. “Since then, I have gone with the group on their searches.”

Most of the issues he encountered during these searches involved government rules.

“I also have to respect the wishes of private landowners who want to keep private what is inside their property,” Camacho added.

He said he uses WWII-era Japanese maps as he continues to search for WWII fortifications and natural caves on island.

Camacho has also been involved in many government-funded research studies regarding WWII artifacts, geological studies and natural caves.

“It’s my hobby and passion,” he added.

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