(ARIZONA MARU, prewar)

IJA Anti-Aircraft Transport ARIZONA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2016 Bob Hackett
Revision 5

E 1919
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosensho as a 9,685-ton cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen (OSK Line) K. K., Tokyo.

Launched and named ARIZONA MARU.

20 June 1920:
Completed and placed on OSK’s Japan ~ North America service.

14 July 1920:
Arrives at Seattle.

16 February 1921:
Arrives at Seattle.

1 September 1923:
Following the Great Kanto Earthquake, ARIZONA MARU ferries refugees to the Osaka/Kobe area.

24 October 1926:
Arrives at Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

December 1929-June 1930:
ARIZONA MARU’s service with the OSK Line includes outgoing voyages to Shanghai, Kobe, Yokkaichi, Shimizu, Yokohama, Victoria, Seattle, Vancouver, B.C and return voyages to Seattle, Victoria, Yokohama, Kobe, Osaka, Moji and Shanghai.

January 1937:
ARIZONA MARU’s service with the OSK Line includes outgoing voyages to Kobe, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Moji, Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Dar-es-Salaam, Beira, Lourenço Marques, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Buenos Aires. Her homeward voyages include Montevideo, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Lourenço Marques, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Moji and Kobe to Osaka. Some voyages continued to Nagoya and Yokohama.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (The"First China Incident") Incident:
Hun River, Lukuokiao, China. Japanese troops are on night maneuvers at the Marco Polo Bridge bridge. They fire blank cartridges during their maneuvers. Chinese troops across the river fire back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese have captured him. The Japanese demand entry to the Beijing suburb of Wanping to look for the soldier, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese then shell the city. An undeclared war on China begins.

ARIZONA MARU is requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a hospital ship.

Late 1937:
Released back to the OSK Line.

January-December 1938:
ARIZONA MARU’s outgoing voyages with OSK includes Kobe, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Moji, Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Dar-es-Salaam, Beira, Lourenço Marques, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Buenos Aires and return voyages to Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Lourenço Marques, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Singapore, Moji, Kobe, Osaka. Some voyages continued to Nagoya and Yokohama. Some outgoing voyages include calls at Saigon, Penang, Madras, Tanga, East London, Mossel Bay, Rio de Janeiro and Santos and homeward voyages to Port Louis, Beira, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanga, Penang, Manila and Hong Kong.

23 July 1941: Operation "FU"- The Occupation of South Indochina (Cochinchina):
Japanese and Vichy French authorities arrive at an "understanding" regarding the use of air facilities and harbors in Southern Indochina. From the next day on, Japanese forces occupy the country.

July 1941:
ARIZONA MARU becomes OSK's first ship to serve on its Japan ~ Haiphong, Indochina route.

October 1941:
Innoshima Dock, Kure Naval Arsenal. ARIZONA MARU is fitted with six IJA Type 88 75mm AA guns and 10 single barrel 25-mm AA Machine Cannon. Crew quarters and stables for horses are constructed. [1]

28 October 1941:
Refitting completed. Departs for Ujina.

1 November 1941:
An Army AAA unit comes aboard.

2 November 1941:
ARIZONA MARU's crew are officially called into the Army as civilian employees.

13 November 1941:
Regimental commander Colonel Otsuka boards. Departs for Itozaki, a secret storage depot, to load 3,000 drums of fuel for the Army.

19 November 1941:
Departs Itozaki.

23 November 1941:
Arrives at Takao.

26 November 1941:
ARIZONA MARU is officially requisitioned by the IJA once more and assigned as troopship No. 830. Her designation is now Rikugun Yusosen Bokusen (Army Air Defense Transport) due to her heavy AA armament. Attached to Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo’s (35)(former CO of YAMASHIRO) Third Fleet. That same day, ARIZONA MARU embarks about 1,300 infantrymen of the 2nd Formosa Infantry Regiment's headquarters, its 2nd Battalion, and half the 1st Battalion, 48th Division.

29 November 1941:
The crew is informed that their mission is to invade the Philippines.

7 December 1941: Operation "M" - The Attack on the Southern Philippines:
At 1630, ARIZONA 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 AKIURA, KAZAUURA, MATSUKAWA and YUZAN MARUs.

Hara’s force is escorted by DesRon 5’s light cruiser NATORI (F), DesDiv 5's ASAKAZE, HARUKAZE, MATSUKAZE and HATAKAZE and DesDiv 22 ’s FUMIZUKI, MINIZUKI, NAGATSUKI and SATSUKI, minesweepers W-15, W-16 and W-19 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. ARIZONA MARU's crew experiences great difficulty in lowering boats from the tall freighter. Rough seas also badly hamper unloading the 1,300 soldiers she carries.

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.

18 December 1941: The Invasion of the Northern Philippines:
At 1200, ARIZONA 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. ARIZONA MARU is carrying about 2,000 men.

22 December 1941:
ARIZONA MARU and Rear Admiral Nishimura's 2nd Lingayen Invasion Unit arrive at Lingayen Gulf LtGen Dobashi's 2nd Lingayen Invasion Unit begins landing troops.

13 January 1941:
Departs Takao.

1 February 1942:
Lingayen Gulf. ARIZONA MARU's lookouts spot a periscope about 1,200 meters to starboard and observe the approach of a torpedo. ARIZONA MARU's bow 75mm AA guns fires at the torpedo as it approaches. One shell, improperly set by the crew, explodes near the bridge and wounds ten crewmen. The torpedo hits below the waterline, scrapes under the hull, and continues off to port emitting clouds of bubbles before sinking. [2]

February 1942:
Arrives at Jolo Island, Philippines.

17 February 1942:
At night, transports SAGAMI and SASAGO MARUs carrying part of the IJA's 48th Infantry Division depart Makassar, Celebes (now Sulawasei) for Bali, Java (now Indonesia) escorted by DesDiv 8's ASASHIO, OSHIO, ARASHIO and MICHISHIO.

19 February 1942: The Invasion of Eastern Java:
Jolo, Philippines. At 0800, the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy (Toho Koryaku Butai) consisting of 39 troop transports departs the anchorage carrying the IJA’s 48th Infantry Division in seven sections:
1st Section consisting of: KONAN, HAGUE, YAMAGIKU, KENKON, NANKO and ADEN MARUs,
2nd Section consisting of: HOLLAND, JOHORE, TAKAOKA, HOKKO, KYOKUSEI and TAEI MARUs,
3rd Section consisting of: ARIZONA, KENZAN, HIMALAYA, HAVRE, ANZAN and CHOKO MARUs (6783/20),
4th Section consisting of: YONEYAMA, NISSHU, BIYO, ITALY, ASAKA and KASHU MARUs,
6th Section consisting of: MIYADONO, JINZAN (JINSAN), WALES, SUEZ, TAMON and YASUKAWA MARUs, and the
7th Section consisting of: SATSUMA, MINRYU and HOZUGAWA MARUs.

The convoy is escorted by Rear Admiral Nishimura's heavy cruisers NACHI and HAGURO, DesRon 2's light cruisers NAKA and JINTSU and DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and HATSUKAZE and DesDiv 7's USHIO, SAZANAMI, YAMAKAZE and KAWAKAZE and DesRon 4's light cruiser NAKA, DesDiv 2's YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, HARUSAME, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MURASAME, MINEGUMO and NATSUGUMO.

E 21 February 1942:
Makassar Strait. SAGAMI and SASAKO MARUs join the main convoy and steam with it.

22 February 1942:
At 1200, LIVERPOOL and EHIME MARUs join the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy north of Aru Bank. The same day, HITERU and TEIRYU MARUs depart Palau carrying elements of the Sakaguchi Detachment.

23 February 1942:
HITERU and TEIRYU MARUs join the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy.

27 February 1942: The Battle of the Java Sea:
At 1547, HAGURO and NACHI, DesRon 2's JINTSU with DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and HATSUKAZE and DesDiv 7's USHIO, SAZANAMI, YAMAKAZE and KAWAKAZE engage Dutch Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman's Strike Force's light cruiser Hr.Ms. DE RUYTER (F), heavy cruisers HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH and Hr.Ms. JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER, Hr.Ms. KORTENAER and WITTE de WITH and old destroyers USS ALDEN (DD-211), JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD-216), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and PAUL JONES (DD-230).

During this day and the next day’s engagements, Doorman's Strike Force loses HMS EXETER and USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH, HrMs DE RUYTER, Hr.Ms. JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER and Hr.Ms. KORTENAER to superior Japanese forces. The Allies also lose old four stack USS POPE (DD-225).

1 March 1942: Operation "J" - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
At 0120, 100 miles W of Surabaya, Java. The Eastern Java Invasion Force now consisting of 43 transports including HAGUE MARU enters the roadstead off Kragan village, East Java.

Just before dropping anchor, the ships suffer a fierce air attack. JOHORE MARU is hit and suffers many KIA and WIA. TOKUSHIMA MARU is also hit and has to be beached at 0200. Despite the air attacks, at 0015, the convoy lands the 48th Infantry Division at Kragan village, East Java. Their main objectives are the Surabaya Naval Base on the eastern coast and Tjilatjap harbor on the southern coast.

6 June 1942: Operation FS - Planned Japanese Invasion of Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia:
At 1500, ARIZONA MARU departs Karatsu Bay, Kyushu for Palau in an unidentified convoy also consisting of OIGAWA, SANKO, MYOKO, BRISBANE and YASUKAWA MARUs escorted by destroyer YUNAGI, minelayer HIRASHIMA, auxiliary minelayer KAHOKU MARU and an unidentified mineseeper.

13 June 1942:
Arrives at Palau. It was planned that the convoy would proceed from Palau to Rabaul to participate in the invasion of New Caledonia in July, but the Coral Sea action and the disaster at Midway causes postponement, and later cancellation, of Operation FS.

25 August 1942:
Departs Ujina.

2 September 1942:
Arrives at Pusan, Korea.

2-4 September 1942:
Embarks troops at Pusan and depars.

6 September 1942:
Departs Ujina for Rabaul, New Britain in an unidentified convoy also consisting of 10 IJA troop transports escorted by 11 unidentified warships.

8 September 1942:
Arrives and departs Takao.

10 September 1942:
Arrives Manila.

15 September 1942:
Departs Manila

23 September 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

2 October 1942:
ARIZONA MARU arrives at Rabaul, New Britain in an unidentified convoy probably also consisting of BRISBANE, NAKA, CANBERRA, KINUGAWA, SHINANOGAWA, YAMAURA and YAMAZUKI MARUs and several unidentified ships with an unknown escort.

8 October 1942:
At 0615, ARIZONA MARU departs Manila, Philippines for Rabaul in an unnumbered convoy also consisting of MITO and TAIKO MARUs escorted by auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 2.

October 1942:
About midway to Palau, auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 2 is detached and replaced by an unidentified subchaser. Near Palau, the convoy is joined by torpedo boat OTORI.

18 October 1942:
A USAAF B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bomber flies near the convoy in the morning, but does not attack. At 1410, the convoy arrives at Palau.

6 November 1942:
At 1400, ARIZONA MARU departs Rabaul for the Shortland Islands, Solomons in an unnumbered convoy also consisting of NAGARA, SHINANOGAWA, TOYO, YAMAZUKI, TEIYO (ex-German SAARLAND), YURI, TOYOKUNI and OIGAWA MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HIYODORI, minelayer SHIRATAKA, minesweeper W-15 and subchaser CH-16.

8 November 1942:
At 1020, the convoy arrives at Shortlands.

13 November 1942: 2nd Transportation in Force Operation:
At 1730, ARIZONA MARU departs Shortlands for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, Solomons with ComDesRon 2’s Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's Reinforcement Group’s troop transports carrying 38th Army Division and Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops, equipment and provisions in BRISBANE, SHINANOGAWA, SADO, NAGARA, CANBERRA, NAKO, HIROKAWA, KINUGAWA, YAMAURA and YAMATSUKI MARUs escorted by Tanaka’s DesRon 2’s HAYASHIO, AMAGIRI, KAGERO, KAWAKAZE, MAKINAMI, MOCHIZUKI, NAGANAMI, OYASHIO, SUZUKAZE, TAKANAMI and UMIKAZE. Air cover is provided by the 11th Air Fleet and the R-Area Air Force's floatplane fighters. ARIZONA MARU also carries headquarters personnel from both the 2nd and 38th Division as well as 2nd Division hospital personnel.

14 November 1942:
ARIZONA MARU is officially classified and operated as an Army Air Defense Ship. That same day, at 0849, as Tanaka's Reinforcement Group proceeds down the "Slot" between the New Georgia and Santa Isabel Islands, the 23-ship convoy is sighted by a reconnaissance Douglas "Dauntless" SBD dive-bomber from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6). At 0908, the SDB attacks a transport, but is shot down by Japanese fighters.

Off Guadalcanal. At 1250, 18 Marine Corps SBD dive-bombers and seven USN Grumman "Avenger" TBF torpedo-bombers attack the convoy. Mitsubishi A6M "Zekes" shoot down some aircraft, but are engaged by Grumman F4F "Wildcat' fighters and cannot stop the attack.

CANBERRA and NAGARA MARUs are torpedoed and sunk. Destroyers AMAGIRI and MOCHIZUKI rescue 1,500 survivors. The Americans also damage cargo ship SADO MARU that is detached to Shortlands with AMAGIRI and MOCHIZUKI carrying among other survivors, MajGen Tanabe Suketomo, CO of the IJA’s 38th Division and other survivors.

At about 1430, SBD dive-bombers from ENTERPRISE and USMC SBDs of the "Cactus Air Force" at Henderson Field bomb and sink BRISBANE MARU. Destroyer KAWAKAZE rescues 550 survivors.

Beginning about 1500, two flights of Fifth Air Force B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers from the 11th Bomb Group (H) at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides attack the convoy without success.

At about 1530, ARIZONA MARU and SHINANOGAWA MARUs are attacked by eight SBD dive-bombers from ENTERPRISE covered by 12 F4F fighters. Both transports are hit by 1,000-lb bombs and abandoned. Destroyer NAGANAMI rescues 570 survivors from SHINANOGAWA MARU and MAKINAMI rescues 1,020 survivors from ARIZONA MARU. [3]

In the last attack beginning about 1610, the planes sink transport NAKO MARU. Destroyer SUZUKAKE rescues 1,100 survivors. [2]

80 miles NW of Savo Island, Guadalcanal. A flight of four TBF torpedo-bombers of USMC VT-10 covered by six F4F fighters of USMC VMO-251 find ARIZONA and SHINANOGAWA MARUs dead in the water and nearby each other. The Marines also spot BRISBANE and NAKO MARUs further ahead. Two TBFs attack ARIZONA and SHINANOGAWA MARUs, but their unreliable Mark 13 torpedoes either miss or fail to explode. Another TBF drops a bomb and gets a direct hit amidships and sinks one of the transports. The other sinks shortly thereafter from previous damage. ARIZONA MARU sinks near 08-30S, 158-45E.

Author's Note:
[1] Sources conflict as to ARIZONA MARU's secondary armament. Other Japanese sources say she carried 10 IJA Type 98 20-mm AA Machine Cannon.

[2] According to SORG, the attack was probably made by LtCdr William E. Ferrall's (USNA' 27) USS SEADRAGON (SS-194) at 16N, 120E. SEADRAGON fired one of BuOrd's unreliable Mark 14s.

[3] The Japanese lose about 450 men KIA in the 13 Nov '42 action, although troop losses and other casualties for individual ships are unknown. Altogether, the destroyers rescue more than 4,700 men.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany, Gilbert Casse of France and the late John Whitman.

-Bob Hackett

Back to IJA Transports