(AKIURA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

©2015-2018 Bob Hackett

3 December 1937:
Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosen Kaisha as Yard No. 732, a 6,804-ton passenger cargo ship for Mitsubishi Shoji, K. K., Tokyo.

3 May 1938:
Launched and named AKIURA MARU.

20 August 1938:

22 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) for service as a troop transport. Assigned IJA No. 896.

7 December 1941: Operation "M" - The Attack on the Southern Philippines:
At 1630, AKIURA MARU departs Mako, Pescadores for Aparri, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hara Kensaburo's (37)(former CO of TAKAO) Fourth Surprise Attack Force with IJA transports ARIZONA, KAZAUURA, MATSUKAWA and YUZAN MARUs.

The transports carry Col H. Tanakaís 1st Raiding Force Detachment consisting of two companies of the 1st Battalion and the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Formosan Infantry Regiment, 48th Division. Other units transported are the 11th IJAAF regiment, elements of the 28th and 40th Ground Support Airbases (Battalion size), one company of the 9th Ground Support Depot Airbase, the 40th AA Detachment, the 123th, 297th and 298th truck companies, the 56th Labor Construction Company, two Aviation Signal Air Defense detachments and one Weather Aviation Meteorological company.

Haraís force is escorted by DesRon 5ís light cruiser NATORI (F), DesDiv 5's ASAKAZE, HARUKAZE, MATSUKAZE and HATAKAZE and DesDiv 22 ís FUMIZUKI, MINIZUKI, NAGATSUKI and SATSUKI, minesweepers W-15, W-16 and W-19, auxiliary gunboats MANYO, TOMITSU and TAIKO MARUs and subchasers CH-1, Ch-2, Ch-3, CH-14 and CH-15.

10 December 1941:
At 0550, the invasion unit arrives off Aparri, N Luzon, Philippines and begins to land troops of the IJA 48th Infantry Division. The invasion unit's objective is the capture of the airfield at Vigan. NATORI provides fire support, bombarding the shoreline.

The landing force is attacked by three Army Air Force B-17 bombers of the 14th Squadron including one piloted by Captain Colin Kelly. They drop 600-lb and 100-lb bombs. NATORI evades the first bomb attacks, but receives a near-miss off her port side when she attempts to approach minesweeper W-19 of No. 2 Base Force. W-19 is hit, grounded and then given up as a total loss. DesDiv 5's HARUKAZE is also damaged slightly by near misses.

12 December 1941:
Takao. At 1800, AKIURA MARU departs No. 3 anchorage for Aparri, Philippines in an invasion convoy also consisting of ARIZONA, KAZUURA, KURAMA, MATSUKAWA and OYAMA MARUs escorted by destroyers FUYO, NAGATSUKI, MINAZUKI and WAKATAKE, torpedo boats HAYABUSA and SAGI and minesweepers W-15 and W-16.

13 December 1941:
Departs Aparri.

16 December 1941:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

3 June 1942:
At 1200, AKIURA MARU departs Mutsure in the RIKU convoy also consisting of HIROKAWA, KANSAI, KINUKAWA, NAKO, SAGAMI, SHINANOGAWA, YAMATSUKI and YAMAZATO MARUs escorted by destroyers FUYO and WAKATAKE and torpedo boats HAYABUSA and SAGI.

28 November 1942:
AKIURA MARU runs aground at 50-05N 155-12E, but is refloated with help from kaibokan KUNASHIRI.

29 November 1942:
At 0630, arrives at Attu, Aleutians.

8 June 1942:
At 1000, arrives at Manila.

June 1943:
Ownership of AKIURA MARU is transferred to Mitsubishi Kisen Kaisha, Tokyo.

23 July 1943:
Kuriles. Kaibokan HACHIJO joins and escorts AKIURA MARU to Paramushiro Island.

24 July 1943:
Arrives at Kataoka Bay, Paramushiro.

25 February 1944:
Kau, Halmahera. At 1247, AKIURA MARU transfers stores to minesweeper W-4.

27 February 1944:
AKIURA MARU departs Halmahera in a convoy also consisting of SHOHO and TOYO MARUs

28 February 1944:
90 miles NW of Manokwarki, New Guinea. At about 2315, LtCdr (later Captain) Cyrus C. Cole's (USNA '35) USS BALAO (SS-285) attacks the convoy. Cole fires ten torpedoes at AKIURA, SHOHO and TOYO MARUs. AKIURA MARU evades four torpedoes, but is hit by four more. She catches fires and explodes. AKIURA MARU sinks at 00-15N, 133-02E. 497 troops, 55 crewmen and 10 gunners are KIA.

Cole fires four torpedoes at SHOHO MARU and gets two hits that sink her at 00-15N, 133-02E. 34 men are KIA.

28-29 February 1944:
TOYO MARU is possibly hit and damaged by one torpedo, but rescues survivors and lands them at Manokwarki.

Author's Note:
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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