(ALASKA MARU, prewar)

Transport ALASKA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2016 Bob Hackett
Revision 3

12 March 1919:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi shipyard as a 7,379-ton passenger cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line of Kobe.

31 July 1919:
Launched and named ALASKA MARU.

20 August 1919:
Completed. She can accommodate six 1st class passengers and carries a crew of 64 men. Placed on OSK's Yokohama ~ European route.

ALAKSA MARU is transferred to OSK's New York route.

20 August 1920:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from Havana, Cuba.

24 July 1922:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from Yokohama, Japan.

September 1923: The Great Kanto Earthquake:
Serves as a rescue vessel carrying relief materials and refugees of the disaster.

Converted from coal-fired to oil-burning propulsion

ALAKSA MARU is placed on OSK's Yokohama ~ Bombay (now Mumbai), India route.

Transferred to OSK's West Africa route.

1937: Second Sino – Japanese War.
Chartered by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop transport.

30 October 1937:
Departs Osaka and arrives at Goto Islands. Carrries elements of the IJA 114th Division’s 150th Infantry Regiment.

3 November 1937:

5 November 1937:
Arrives at Hangzhou Bay, China. Stands by for five days because of faulty landing craft.

10 November 1937:
Lands troops.

E 1938:
Released by the IJA back to her owners.

Placed on OSK's new Japan ~ Persian Gulf route.

6 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 92.

18 December 1941: Operation "M" (M Sakusen) -The Invasion of the Northern Philippines:
At 1200, ALAKSA MARU departs Mako, Pescadores for Lingayen Gulf, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Rear Admiral Nishimura Shoji's (39)(former CO of HARUNA) 2nd Lingayen Invasion Unit with 27 other IJA transports escorted by DesRon 2's light cruiser NAKA, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO, minesweepers W-9, W-10, W-11, W-12, W-17 and W-18 and subchasers CH-4, CH-5, CH-6, CH-10, CH-11, CH-12, CH-16 , CH-17 and CH-18.

The Japanese main invasion at Lingayen Gulf consists of three transport echelons. The first is composed of 27 transports from Takao under Rear Admiral Hara Kensaburo, the second of 28 transports under Rear Admiral Nishimura and the third of 21 transports from Keelung under Rear Admiral Hirose Sueto. This force of 76 transports carries the main part of LtGen Homma Masaharu's 80,000-man 14th Army.

12 February 1942: Operation "L" (L Sakusen) -The Invasions of Muntok, Banka Island and Palembang, Sumatra, Netherlands East Indies (NEI):
ALASKA MARU departs Camranh Bay, Indochina in an invasion convoy consisting of transports TACOMA, MANSEI, TAJIMA, ANYO, OYO, SADO and KINUGAWA MARUs escorted by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hashimoto Shintaro’s (41) DesRon 3 light cruiser SENDAI, DesDiv 11's FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI and SHIRAYUKI, DesDiv 20’s AMAGIRI, YUGIRI and ASAGIRI, MinSwpDiv 1’s W-1, W-2,W-3,W-4 and W-5 and SubChasDiv 11’s CH-7 and CH-8. Air cover is provided by floatplane fighters from seaplane tenders SAGARA and KAMIKAWA MARUs.

The convoy carries seven companies of the 229th Regiment of the IJA 38th Division, a mountain gun battery of the 10th Independent Mountain Artillery Battalion, an engineer company of the 38th Engineer Regiment and men of the 38th Medical Unit.

15 February 1942:
At 0100, the invasion convoy arrives off Muntok, Bangka Stait and at 0130 successfully lands its troops on Bangka Island Sumatra. OYO MARU suffers slight damage in an air attack, probably by RAAF Lockheed “Hudson” light bombers.

8 March 1942: Operation "T"(T Sakusen) - The Invasion of Northern Sumatra:
At 1600 (JST), the northern Sumatra invasion convoy departs Singapore consisting of Army transports ALASKA, ANYO, RAKUYO and KINUGAWA MARUs and Navy transports TATSUMIYA and HEITO MARUs transporting the Kobayashi Detachment of the Imperial Guards Division and other elements of the same division. KORYU and KISOGAWA MARUs also steam in this convoy, but are later detached and head separately to Penang.

The convoy is escorted by DesRon 3 light cruiser SENDAI (F), DesDiv 19 ISONAMI, URANAMI and AYANAMI, DesDiv 20 AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI and YUGIRI, MineDiv 1 W1, W3, W4 and W5, SC-Div 11 CH-8 and CH-9, Escort No. 1 Force light cruisers KASHII and YURA, kaibokan SHIMUSHU and MineDiv 41's REISUI and TAKAO MARUs .

Distant cover is provided by Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo’s (37) heavy cruiser CHOKAI (flagship), CruDiv 7’s MOGAMI, MIKUMA, KUMANO and SUZUYA, DesDiv 11 FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI and SHIRAYUKI and DesDiv 12 MURAKUMO and SHIRAKUMO. Light aircraft carrier RYUJO, seaplane tender SAGARA MARU and aircraft from the 40th Naval air Group, Seletar airfield and from the Bihoro Naval Air Group, Penang airfield provide air cover.

21 August 1943:
ALASKA MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy O-104 also consisting of KUMAGAWA and YAMAGATA MARUs escorted by minesweepers W-18 and W-33 and auxiliary minesweepers TAMA MARU No. 6 and TAMA MARU No. 7.

E 22 August 1943:
At 30-30N, 134-05E the two auxiliary minesweepers are detached from the convoy.

E 23 August 1943:
At 29N, minesweeper W-33 is detached from the convoy.

30 August 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

17 November 1943:
At 0700, ALASKA MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy O-708 also consisting of YAMAZURU MARU towing a tokugata unkato midget supply submarine and KAYO, KIBI, PACIFIC, TAIEI, TAIKO and TOYOKAWA MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-31 and auxiliary subchasers AOI MARU and TOKUHO MARU No. 10.

26 November 1943:
At 1338, convoy No. 708 arrives at Palau.

12 December 1943:
At 1200, ALASKA MARU departs Palau for Rabaul in convoy N-206 also consisting of CEYLON, KAIKA, KAITO, PACIFIC and RYUA MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-37 and CH-38. ALASKA MARU is loaded with 12,000 m3 of food rations, clothing, arms and general goods.

19 December 1943:
At 1910, the convoy is attacked by PBY “Catalina” flying boat patrol planes, but they are driven off. At 2040, a second attack develops. KAITO MARU is hit set on fire and sinks the following day at 04-35N, 151-21E. 262 troops and 26 crewmen are KIA.

Off Kavieng, New Ireland. At 2132, in another attack, both ALASKA and PACIFIC MARUs are hit. PACIFIC MARU is damaged, but ALASKA MARU has to be abandoned. One crewman is KIA. The survivors are rescued by CH-37.

20 December 1943:
30 miles N of the Gazelle Peninsula. ALASKA MARU sinks at 03-45N, 151-30E.

Author's Note:
Thanks go to Allan Alsleben of Oregon, USA and Erich Muetlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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