Asahi Maru prewar
IJN Hospital Ship ASAHI MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement
© 1998-2010 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.
28 November 1914:
Riva Trigoso, Italy. Laid down as a passenger ship by Societą Esercizio Bacini.
Launched and named DANTE ALIGHIERI.
28 February 1915:
Completed as a 9,754 GRT passenger ship for the Transatlantica Italiana Societą Anonima di Navigazione owned by the Hamburg America Line. There are accommodations for 100 1st-class, 260 2nd-class and 1,825 3rd-class passengers.
Departs Genoa on her maiden voyage for Palermo, Naples and New York.
In service between Italy and New York with calls at Lisbon, Gibraltar, Azores and Boston and between Italy and South America.
Departs Genoa on her last voyage on this service.
5 November 1927:
Arrives at New York.
15 November 1927:
Departs New York for Lisbon, Naples and Genoa.
15 February 1928:
DANTE ALIGHIERI is purchased by Kinkai Yusen Kaisha of Tokyo and renamed ASAHI MARU.
23 July 1928:
ASAHI MARU begins service on the Kobe-Keelung, Formosa route.
7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (The First "China") Incident:
Lugouqiao, China. Japanese troops are on night maneuvers at the bridge. They fire blank cartridges. Chinese troops fire back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese captured him. The Japanese demand entry to Beijing to look for the soldier. The Chinese refuse. The Japanese then shell the city. An undeclared war on China begins.
7 August 1937:
ASAHI MARU is at sea on the Kobe-Formosa route when she receives a radio signal from Kobe that she has been requisitioned by the IJN.
Kure. ASAHI MARU begins conversion to a specially installed hospital ship. Work begins to construct an X-ray room, operating room, infectious disease isolation room and accommodations for 120 patients, in addition to accommodations for officers and military personnel.
ASAHI MARU is registered (commissioned) in the Kure Naval District and allocated service (ship) No. 487.
17 August 1937:
Captain/Surgeon (later Vice Admiral/Surgeon) Wakao Yoshiho is posted Director of Medicine of ASAHI MARU.
25 August 1937:
Construction is completed. Departs Kure.
5 September 1937:
Attached to the 3rd China Fleet.
20 October 1937:
Renumbered ship No.734 in the China Fleet.
15 November 1937:
Arrives at Shanghai. Thereafter, ASAHI MARU makes 14 round trips between Shanghai and Japan and transports approximately 10,000 personnel.
1 December 1937:
Captain/Surgeon (later Vice Admiral/Surgeon) Takagi Takashi is posted Director of Medicine.
25 March 1938:
Kobe. Undergoes hull inspection at Pier No. 1 of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. shipyard. ASAHI MARU enters drydock. The ship is inclined in order to inspect her hull, but as a result of filling too many tanks the list grows rapidly, so that by the next morning, the promenade deck is awash. The hull is flooded next and the ship settles to the ground. The accident damages her forward smoke stack. It is removed and replaced by a dummy smokestack.
That same day, ASAHI MARU is attached to the 2nd special duty force of the China Fleet.
3 May 1938:
Refloated out of drydock by Nippon Salvage K. K.
9 June 1938:
Restoration is complete. Departs Kobe for Kure.
12 June 1938:
Departs Kure for Shanghai.
15 July 1938:
Arrives at Sasebo. From this date, ASAHI MARU makes 32 round trips to China, mainly the southern area with frequent stops at Mako, Kirun (Keelung) and Takao in Formosa and some visits to Ryojun (Lushun, previously Port Arthur) and other northern and central China ports. Sasebo remains her principal base.
15 November 1938:
Captain/Surgeon (later Rear Admiral/Surgeon) Uehara Junnosuke is posted Director of Medicine.
6 May 1939:
Under Government pressure to rationalize services as the war in China (Nikka Jihen) drags on, Kinkai Yusen, a subsidiary of NYK servicing the near seas to Japan, is absorbed back into NYK. The ship's port of registry remains unchanged as Tokyo.
8 September 1939:
Yokohama. Undergoes modifications and alterations at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. shipyard.
15 November 1939:
Captain/Surgeon (later Vice Admiral/Surgeon) Tanabe Yutaka is posted Director of Medicine.
The dummy funnel is removed.
15 November 1940:
ASAHI MARU is attached directly to the Combined Fleet.
20 September 1941:
Captain/Surgeon (later Rear Admiral/Surgeon) Kandatsu Kinsaku is posted Director of Medicine.
3 December 1941:
Departs Saeki for Palau.
12 January 1942:
Provisioned by SENKO MARU.
19 January 1942:
Davao. Provisioned by transport TOKYO MARU.
22 January 1942:
Davao. Provisioned by transport KIRISHIMA MARU.
23 January 1942: The Invasion of Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo:
Davao. Provisioned by minelayer NICHIYU MARU.
An invasion convoy of 16 transports carrying the 56th Infantry regiment and the No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) is spotted by Allied aerial reconnaissance. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) William A. Glassford's Task Force 5's light cruisers USS MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), BOISE (CL-47) and Cdr Paul H. Talbot's DesDiv 59's old flush deck, four-stack destroyers PARROTT (DD-218), POPE (DD-225), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and the PAUL JONES (DD-230) are ordered by Admiral (later Senator) Thomas C. Hart, ADBAFLOAT  Commander, to intercept the convoy before it reaches Balikpapan.
Glassford heads north to find the IJN invasion force, but BOISE runs aground on a reef and is forced to retire and MARBLEHEAD develops engine trouble. DesDiv 59 is detached and increases speed so as to arrive at Balikpapan at midnight.
Storms protect the invasion force until it is almost to Balikpapan. At 1525, nine Dutch Martin Model 166 (B-10) bombers from Samarinda attack and hit transports NANA and TATSUGAMI MARUs. NANA MARU has to be abandoned and later sinks. TATSUGAMI MARU continues to Balikpapan. At 2130, the transports begin disembarking their troops.
24 January 1942:
Dutch Navy LtCdr C. A. J. van Well Groeneveld's (former CO of K-XIV) submarine K-XVIII, operating on the surface due to the weather, fires four bow torpedoes at the light cruiser NAKA, flagship of the IJN's covering force, but they all miss. At 0045, Groeneveld fires at NAKA, but misses and hits transport TSURUGA MARU port amidships, sinking her. The covering force moves eastwards to carry out antisubmarine sweeps.
Cdr Talbot's DesDiv 59 arrives from the south. Since the covering force is to the east searching for submarines, the four destroyers are virtually unopposed. At 0316, they begin their first attack firing their 4-inch guns and launching ten torpedoes at the anchored transports, but all their torpedoes miss. Talbot orders another attack.
At 0330, the POPE hits and sinks transport SUMANOURA MARU. At 0335, PARROTT and the PAUL JONES sink transport TATSUGAMI MARU with torpedoes. POPE and PARROTT sink the 2nd Base Force's patrol boat P37 with torpedoes and gunfire.
At 0345, FORD sinks transport KURETAKE MARU with gunfire and torpedoes. Another transport suffers damage from gunfire and torpedoes but remains afloat. At 0332, FORD scores gunfire hits on ASAHI MARU whose hospital ship status is obscured by the darkness. At 0350, their torpedoes gone, Talbot's DesDiv 59 departs southward.
11 February 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.
21 February 1942:
5 March 1942:
Provisioned by auxiliary arcraft transport KEIYO MARU.
12 March 1942:
Balikpapan. Provisioned by from cargo ship KUMAGAWA MARU.
24 March 1942
Makassar. Provisioned by auxiliary storeship KOSEI MARU.
26 March 1942:
Arrives at Kupang, Timor Island. That same day, the ASAHI MARU is erroneously bombed by British planes.
22 April 1942:
Arrives at Takao.
31 May 1942:
Arrives Kure. Operates out of Kure for next five months.
20 September 1941:
A new, but unknown, Captain/Surgeon (later Rear Admiral/Surgeon) is posted Director of Medicine.
7 November 1942:
10 November 1942:
Rerated a transport. Departs Kure.
22 November 1942:
Arrives at Kavieng, New Ireland.
7 December 1942:
Arrives at Kure. Remains based out of Kure for next six months.
20 March 1943:
Arrives at Kure.
23 May 1943:
At 1700, arrives at the North Channel, Truk.
1 October 1943:
Kure Naval Yard. Undergoes further conversion.
30 October 1943:
At 1600, departs Mutsure for Takao in convoy No. 110 consisting of ASAHI, MALTA, HANAKAWA, TEIKO, (ex- French liner D'ARTAGNAN), KIZAN, YOZAN, SEIZAN, OSHIMA, CHINKAI, TAINAN, TOYO, YULIN, SHINKOKU and SEIWA MARUs and oilers TEIKON (ex-German WINNETOU), TERUKAWA and SANKO MARUs escorted by Patrol Boat No. 2 and auxiliary gunboat KAZAN (ex-Chinese HUASHAN) MARU.
4 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao at 1410.
19 December 1943:
At 1200, departs Singapore for Moji in fleet convoy HI-24 consisting of the ASAHI MARU, passenger/cargo ship TERUKUNI MARU, cargo liner ARABIA MARU and oilers BOKUEI and ASASHIO MARUs escorted by kaibokan KANJU.
28 December 1943:
Arrives at Takao.
4 January 1944:
Near Moji, BOKUEI MARU collides with the TERUKUNI MARU and sinks at 34-04N, 130-32E. The ASAHI MARU is detached for Sasebo. Later that day, the rest of the convoy arrives at Moji. ASAHI MARU arrives at Sasebo the same day.
7 January 1944:
Arrives at Osaka.
9 January 1944:
13 January 1944:
Arrives at Sasebo.
19 January 1944:
At 0730, departs Moji for Takao in convoy No. 130 consisting of the ASAHI MARU, passenger/cargo liner TERUKUNI MARU, cargo ships PANAMA, ATSUTA, MAYA and YASUKUNI MARUs  and oilers OGURA MARU No. 1 and SAN DIEGO MARU escorted by salvage tug KASASHIMA, auxiliary guard boat MYOJIN MARU No. 2 and small auxiliary patrol boat SHINEI MARU.
23 January 1944:
China coast. 14th Air Force North American B-25 "Mitchell" medium bombers attack the convoy at 27-15N 120-45E. PANAMA MARU is sunk and YASUKUNI and ATSUTA MARUs damaged.
24 January 1944:
The convoy anchors off Incog Island. B-25's attack again. The escort MYOJIN MARU No. 2 is bombed and sunk and patrol boat SHINEI MARU is hit and damaged. The lighthouse tender RYUSEI (ex-Chinese LIU HSING), nearby but not part of the convoy, is also sunk. ASAHI MARU is not damaged in these attacks. 
25 January 1944:
The MAYA MARU and OGURA MARU No. 1 collide. The MAYA MARU is moderately damaged. Tug KASASHIMA and auxiliary gunboat SHINKO MARU No. 1 that happens to be in the area, steam to render assistance, but are attacked by five B-25's. KASASHIMA is sunk. The rest of the convoy is diverted from Takao and arrives at Kirun later that day.
4 February 1944:
At 1700, departs Kure for Kobe.
5 February 1944:
Inland Sea. W of Ushijima, 1.25 miles off Bizan Seto. At 0253, ASAHI MARU collides with oiler MANJU MARU at 34-21N, 133-46E. Captain Noda orders her beached after the collision. All personnel are rescued.
19 February 1944:
A crack occurs in the ASAHI MARU's hull.
24 February 1944:
ASAHI MARU's hull breaks. She is abandoned as a constructive total loss.
15 July 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.
 ABDAFLOAT = American, British, Dutch and Australian Naval Command. In reality, a non-unified command.
 This marks the first known instance of an Allied attack on a Japanese hospital ship during the Pacific War.
 This 5,794-ton YASUKUNI MARU was not IJN Sub Tender YASUKUNI MARU.
 The absence of damage to the larger ships in the convoy suggests they may have detached for Kirun (Keelung) before the attack with only the slower escorts and cripples left behind.
- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.
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