(ASAKA MARU in prewar NYK service)

IJN ASAKA MARU: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2008-2017 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall

Revision 8

18 February 1937:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi's shipyard as a 7,399-ton refrigerated cargo ship for Nippon Yusen Kaisha, (NYK Line), Tokyo.

7 July 1937:
Launched and named ASAKA MARU.

30 November 1937:

In NYK's service on their easterly Around the World service.

10 April 1940:
Requisitioned by the IJN. Registered in the Yokosuka Naval District as an auxiliary armed merchant cruiser.

15 April 1940:
Captain Ryusawa Kuranosuke is appointed Supervisor.

6 July 1940:
Removed from the Navy List. Returned to owners.

24 December 1940:
Requisitioned by the IJN and registered in the Yokosuka Naval District. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Miura Hayao (45) is appointed Commanding Officer.

26 December 1940:
Yokosuka Naval Yard. Begins partial conversion to an auxiliary armed merchant cruiser.

15 January 1941:
The partial conversion is completed. Two 120-mm guns and two 13-mm MGs are installed.

16 January 1941:
ASAKA MARU departs Yokohama. In addition to her CO, Captain Miura, she carries NYK line's Captain Toriumi Kingo and a 40-man “Naval Inspection Group" consisting of 24 naval officers and 16 civilians assigned to Germany that includes group chairman Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Nomura Naokuni (35) and Rear Admirals Abe Katsuo (40), Irifune Naosaburo (39) and Sakamaki Munetaka (41) and Captains (later Rear Admirals) Sato Namizo (39), Nishina Kozo (44) and Matsuo Minoru (46).

7 February 1941:
After cruising 8,000 miles at an average speed of 15 knots, she reaches the Panama Canal. American authorities initially insist on searching the ship during her transit through the Canal, relenting only after lengthy negotiations.

8 February 1941:
British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Anthony Eden sends a Memorandum to the Cabinet that brings attention to the ASAKA MARU affair. In the following days, the British ambassador to the United States, Lord Halifax contacts President Franklin D. Roosevelt who advises against interception of the Japanese vessel. The Board of Admiralty also recommends against a blockade. Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill asks the Special Operations Executive (SOE)-Far East to study a plan to seize or destroy the ship (Operation "M"). In a series of Cabinet meetings (10, 13, 20 and 24 February, 6 and 13 March), a blockade of ASAKA MARU is discussed.

9 February 1941:
Departs Cristobal, Panama towards Europe via the Mona (strait) Passage.

20 February 1941:
Arrives at Lisbon, Portugal. Disembarks the Naval Inspection group who arrive at Berlin four days later. [1]

24 February 1941:
Departs Lisbon.

28 February 1941:
Arrives at Bilbao, Spain. Loads 3,000-tons of munitions and supplies from Germany and Switzerland, including 20-mm Oerlikon cannons for fighter aircraft, cases of machinery, machine tools, mercury, electronic devices, etc. [2]

March 1941:
President Roosevelt orders every foreign ship searched that passes through the Panama Canal.

13 March 1941:
Departs Bilbao for Japan via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Panama Canal.

20 March 1941:
The British Cabinet invites the Netherlands Government to conform to British Contraband Control procedures. No facilities should be afforded unless the Japanese ship submits to these procedures. If ASAKA MARU does not comply, she is not to be allowed to take supplies on board, or to remain in port. [3]

12 April 1941:
Enters the Flores Sea through the Lombok Strait, then makes for the Molucca Passage.

22 April 1941:
Enters Tokyo Bay after cruising 15,000 miles at an average speed of 15 knots. Anchors at Yokohama.

5 September 1941:
Full conversion to an armed merchant cruiser is approved.

6 September 1941:
Assigned to Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Horiuchi Shigenori’s 22nd (Auxiliary Cruiser) Squadron in Vice Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya's (36)(former CO of MUTSU), Fifth Fleet.

8 September 1941:
Enters Osaka Tekkosho to begin full conversion.

11 September 1941:
Recalled Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ban Jiro (33)(former CO of HYUGA) is appointed Commanding Officer.

16 October 1941:
The conversion is completed.

17 October 1941:
At 0930 departs Osaka.

18 October 1941
At 1030 arrives at Yokohama.

24 October 1941:
Departs Yokosuka and later that day arrives at Tateyama Bay.

2 November 1941:
At 0700 departs Tateyama Bay with AWATA MARU on the first of three training exercises outside Tateyama Bay, returning to Tateyama Bay at 1700 that day.

5 November 1941:
At 1300 departs Tateyama Bay with AWATA MARU on the second of three training exercises outside Tateyama Bay, returning to Tateyama Bay at 2200 that day.

8 November 1941:
At 0830 departs Tateyama Bay with AWATA MARU on the last of three training exercises outside Tateyama Bay, returning to Tateyama Bay at 1730 that day.

10 November 1941:
At 1300 departs Tateyama Bay with AWATA MARU and outside conducts different training before proceeding later that day at 1600 to Yokosuka.

26 November 1941:
At 1230 departs Yokosuka.

28 November 1941:
At 1650 arrives at Akkeshi Bay.

3 December 1941:
At 0800 departs Akkeshi Bay with AWATA MARU and apparently does workup patrol in waters outside bay before returning later that day at 1540.

4 December 1941:
At 1400 ASAKA MARU and AWATA MARU depart Akkeshi Bay.

6 December 1941:
At 1130 both ships arrive at Yamato Bay, Matsuwa Jima.

7 December 1941:
At 1330 both ships depart Matsuwa Jima on first patrol in the NE Chishima (Kuriles) area.

12 December 1941:
At 0800 ASAKA MARU only arrives at Asahi Bay and departs later that day at 1335 arriving at Paramushiro Kaikyo (Strait) at 1440.

14 December 1941:
At 1030 departs Paramushiro Strait.

15 December 1941:
At 1200 arrives at Otomae Bay and departs from there on patrol later that day at 1420.

24 December 1941:
At 0945 arrives at Otomae Bay after patrol concluded. Later that day at 1035 departs Otomae Bay and arrives at Asahi Bay at 1525.

27 December 1941:
At 0748 departs Asahi Bay and later that day at 0923 arrives at Paramushiro Strait.

29 December 1941:
At 1430 departs Paramushiro Strait on patrol.

2 January 1942:
Concludes patrol and at 0700 arrives at Otomae Bay. Departs there later that day and intercepts 1 Soviet ship [Ra-Da-Na- Rodina?] that is released after inspection.

4 January 1942:
At 0643 arrives at Akkeshi Bay with AWATA MARU and both depart later that day at 1200.

5 January 1942:
At 1350 arrives at Ominato.

7 January 1942:
At 0820 departs Ominato with AWATA MARU on patrol. ASAKA MARU patrols I Zone. AWATA MARU patrols G Zone.

19 January 1942:
The patrol concluded, at 1200 returns and arrives at Ominato.

24 January 1942:
At 0500 departs Ominato with AWATA MARU and at 1340 they arrive at Muroran.

28 January 1942:
At 1500 departs Muroran with AWATA MARU.

29 January 1942:
At 0900 both arrive at Akkeshi Bay.

1 February 1942:
At 0800 ASAKA MARU and AWATA MARU depart Akkeshi Wan.

8 February 1942
At 1200 arrives at Yokosuka.

10 February 1942:
At 1000 departs Yokosuka and transits the short distance to Yokohama arriving at 1130 that same day.

12 February 1942:
Undergoes repairs.

14 February 1942:
Enters Asano Dockyard.

17 February 1942:

21 February 1942:
At 0830 departs Yokohama back to Yokosuka, arriving at 1130.

24 February 1942:
At 1000 departs Yokosuka.

28 February 1942:
Late in the day arrives at the patrol zone.

9 March 1942:
At 1200 ceases patrolling.

12 March 1942:
At 1200 arrives At Yokosuka after completing a patrol.

18 March 1942:
At 0900 departs Yokosuka on further patrol.

3 April 1942:
At 0715 arrives at Kushiro.

7 April 1942:
At 0825 departs Kushiro for Akkeshi, arriving at 1124, but suffers a failure with No.4 gun so departs at 1330 and returns later that day to Kushiro, arriving at 2255.

13 April 1942:
At 1706 departs Kushiro on patrol.

26 April 1942:
At 1052 arrives at Yokosuka.

20 May 1942:
At 0525 departs Yokosuka.

22 May 1942:
At 1010 arrives at Ominato.

26-29 May 1942:Operation "AL" - The Seizure of Attu and Kiska:
W of Ominato. ASAKA MARU departs Mutsu Bay, Kawauchi (on 28th May at 1200) in Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro's (36) (former CO of MUTSU) Northern Force with Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ono Takeji's (44) Kiska Invasion Force’s CruDiv 21's light cruisers KISO and TAMA, destroyers HIBIKI, AKATSUKI and HOKAZE, auxiliary cruiser, seaplane tender KIMIKAWA MARU and transports HAKUSAN and KUMAGAWA MARUs.

CruDiv 21 accompanies Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Omori Sentaro's (41) (former CO of ISE) Attu Invasion Force: DesRon 1's light cruiser ABUKUMA, DesDiv 21's HATSUHARU, HATSUSHIMO, WAKABA and NENOHI, transport KINUGASA MARU, fleet supply ship MUROTO and minelayer MAGANE MARU with the Main Body's CruDiv 5's NACHI, destroyers INAZUMA and IKAZUCHI, oilers FUJISAN and NISSAN MARUs, auxiliary transport AKASHISAN MARU, auxiliary storeship TOKO MARU No. 2 GO and auxiliary cruiser AWATA MARU and Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral posthumously) Kakuta Kakuji's (39) (former CO of NAGATO) Carrier Striking Force's CarDiv 4's JUNYO and RYUJO, CruDiv 4/2's TAKAO and MAYA, DesDiv 3's SHIOKAZE and DesDiv 7's AKEBONO, SAZANAMI and USHIO.

1 June 1942:
The Invasion Force arrives at Paramushiro and departs that same day. AWATA and ASAKA MARUs are both recorded as arriving at 1810.

2 June 1942:
At 1237 AWATA and ASAKA MARUs depart Paramushiro.

7 June 1942:
The Invasion Force lands troops on Kiska.

8 June 1942:
At 0204 ASAKA MARU arrives at Kiska with sister AWATA MARU and HAKUSAN and KUMAGAWA MARUs. She disembarks materials and personnel necessary to construct a seaplane base.

13 June 1942:
Departs Kiska.

18 June 1942:
At 1430 arrives at Yokosuka. Escorted from N patrol line by auxiliary netlayer KASHI MARU.

28 June 1942:
At 1330 departs Yokosuka on patrol.

3 July 1942:
At 1200 commences the patrol.

11 July 1942:
At 1300 concludes the patrol.

13 July 1942:
At 1500 arrives back at Yokosuka after concluding the patrol.

17 July 1942:
Departs Yokosuka and practices torpedo attack trials before returning to Yokosuka later that day.

26 July 1942:
At 1150 departs Yokosuka on patrol.

28 July 1942:
At 1000 begins the patrol. Soon after in patrol area “Re” opens fire on an enemy submarine.

15 August 1942:
At 2200 concludes the patrol.

17 August 1942:
At 1400 arrives at Yokosuka.

18 August 1942:
Transfers at 1200 from Yokosuka to Yokohama, arriving at 1300.

26 August 1942:
Transfers from Yokohama at 1000 to Yokosuka, arriving at 1230.

23 September 1942:
At 0930 departs Yokosuka on trials returning to port later that same day at 1520.

27 September 1942:
At 1400 departs Yokosuka on patrol.

10 October 1942:
At 0800 concludes the patrol.

13 October 1942:
At 0900 arrives back at Yokosuka.

10 November 1942:
At 1230 departs Yokosuka on patrol.

12 November 1942:
At 0600 commences the patrol.

24 November 1942:
At 1400 concludes the patrol.

26 November 1942:
At 1200 arrives back at Yokohama. Undergoes engine repairs.

18 December 1942:
At 0855 transfers from Yokohama to Yokosuka, arriving at 1030.

21 December 1942:
At 1000 departs Yokosuka on a training exercise with AKAGI and AWATA MARUs.

22 December 1942:
At 1600 returns to Yokosuka.

23 December 1942:
At 1230 departs Yokosuka on patrol.

26 December 1942:
At 1200 commences the patrol.

2 January 1943:
At 1200 concludes the patrol.

7 January 1943:
Concludes patrol and at 1500 arrives back at Yokosuka.

17 January 1943:
At 0900 departs Yokosuka.

19 January 1943:
At 1625 arrives at Ominato.

25 January 1943:
At 0600 departs Ominato as escort for No.11 convoy.

29 January 1943:
That evening arrives at Kataoka Wan.

31 January 1943:
ASAKA MARU departs Paramushiro for Kiska in convoy No. 12-1 escorted by destroyer WAKABA. Arrives at Kashiwabara.

4 February 1943:
At 0400 arrives at Kiska, Aleutians.

5 February 1943:
Departs Kiska.

13 February 1943
At 0800 arrives at Yokosuka.

15 February 1943:
At 1100 transfers from Yokosuka to Yokohama.

2 March 1943:
Captain Sakuma Takeo (36) assumes command.

3 March 1943:
At 1000 transfers from Yokohama to Yokosuka, arriving at 1250.

11 March 1943:
At 1020 departs Yokosuka.

13 March 1943:
At 1130 arives at Ominato

15 March 1943:
At 0850 ASAKA MARU departs for Paramushiro and Attu in convoy No. 21 likely also consisting of SAKITO and SANKO MARUs.

18 March 1943:
At 1105 arrives at Paramushiro.

23 March 1943:
At 1035 ASAKA, SANKO and SAKITO MARUs depart Kataoka, Paramushiro in convoy No. 21-RO escorted by DesRon 1’s light cruiser ABUKUMA and destroyers IKAZUCHI, INAZUMA, HATSUSHIMO, USUGUMO and WAKABA.

25 March 1943:
Cruisers NACHI (F), with Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro (36) embarked, and MAYA depart Paramushiro for Attu with light cruiser TAMA. That same day, ASAKA MARU and her group run into a violent storm and are forced to reduce speed. SANKO MARU and destroyer USUGUMO are detached.

26 March 1943: The Battle of the Komandorski Islands:
It seems that ASAKA MARU's group will not make their planned rendezvous with the cruisers, but that morning they sight the Komandorski Islands and turn south. They make contact with the cruisers about noon.

N Pacific, off the Kamchatka Peninsula, Siberia. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Charles H. McMorris (USNA ’12)(former CO of USS SAN FRANSCISCO, CA-38) Task Group 16.6's USS RICHMOND (CL-9)(F), USS SALT LAKE CITY (CA-25) and destroyers USS BAILEY (DD-492), USS DALE (DD-353), USS MONAGHAN (DD-354) and USS COGHLAN (DD-606) engage Vice Admiral Hosogaya's Fifth Fleet cruisers NACHI (F), MAYA, TAMA and ABUKUMA and two destroyers that are escorting Convoy "D" carrying troops and supplies for the isolated garrison on Attu.

On contact with the Americans, NACHI's two planes are ordered launched. At 0540, NACHI's main battery opens fire. The gun blast damages the spotter plane on the starboard catapult. It has to be jettisoned. The remaining three-seat E13A1 "Jake" on the port catapult is launched. It carries out spotting duties throughout the action. About 30 minutes into the battle, ASAKA and SAKITO MARUs are ordered to get clear and withdraw to the northeast.

In a four-hour running gun battle, USS SALT LAKE CITY and USS BAILEY are damaged by gunfire. The other American destroyers are not damaged. NACHI and MAYA are also hit and damaged. About 1000, ASAKA and SAKITO MARUs receive orders from flagship NACHI to return to Paramushiro and that ABUKUMA and two destroyers will be sent to join them. McMorris has succeeded in causing the Japanese to abort their resupply mission.

29 March 1943:
The fleet arrives at Paramushiro in the morning. ASAKA MARU arrives that evening at 1820. Disgraced, Hosogaya is relieved of command and forced to retire. Vice Admiral Kawase Shiro (38) (former XO of KIRISHIMA) assumes command of the Fifth Fleet.

5 April 1943:
At 1300 arrives at Yokosuka.

9 April 1943:
At 1430 departs Yokosuka on patrol.

11 April 1943:
At 1200 commences the patrol.

15 April 1943:
Captain Yamazaki Makoto (42) is appointed the CO.

18 April 1943:
At 1800 concludes the patrol.

20 April 1943:
At 1030 arrives at Yokosuka.

17 May 1943:
At 1000 departs Yokosuka.

20 May 1943
At 0650 arives at Otaru from Yokosuka.

25 May 1943:
At 1545 departs Otaru.

28 May 1943:
An enemy submarine is sighted and depth charges dropped. Later that day at 1000 arrives at Paramushiro.

5 June 1943:
At 0645 departs Paramushiro.

9 June 1943:
At 0830 arrives at Yokosuka and moors at No. 11 buoy overnight before berthing in port. Repairs begun.

24 June 1943:
Repairs concluded and at 0930 the ship leaves No. 8 Buoy to commence trials before returning to No.8 Buoy at 1900 that day.

25 June 1943:
At 1645 departs Yokosuka (No. 8 Buoy).

29 June 1943:
At 1650 arrives Yamato Bay, Paramushiro Kaikyo.

1 July 1943:
In Kataoka Bay shifted from No. 11 to No. 40 anchorage point.

10 July 1943:
Back to Kataoka Bay No. 10 anchorage point.

22 July 1943:
At 1705 departs Kataoka Bay (No. 11 anchorage point) with AWATA MARU and unknown escort.

25 July 1943:
At 0650 arives at Kushiro.

29 July 1943:
At 0350 departs Kushiro with 1051 personnel, 460 tons base construction materials and 25 tons rations.

31 July 1943:
At 1430 arrives at Kataoka Bay, Shimushiro Jima.

5 August 1943:
At 0300 shifts first from Kataoka Bay to east of Miyakawa Zaki at 0350 then at 0440 to Musashi Bay arriving at 1125, before departing port at 1545. Escorted by subchaser CH-35.

6 August 1943:
CH-35 is detached.

7 August 1943:
At 1640 arrives at Kushiro.

9 August 1943:
At 1400 departs Kushiro.

10 August 1943:
At 0825 arrives at Muroran.

12 August 1943:
At 0700 departs Muroran and later that day at 1515 arrives outside Ominato Port.

13 August 1943:
At 1530 departs Ominato and at 1730 arrives at Aomori.

17 August 1943:
At 1300 departs Aomori and at 1500 arrives at Ominato and moors at Inner Port No. 3 Buoy.

19 August 1943:
At 1355 departs Ominato.

20 August 1943:
At 1240 arrives at Kushiro and moors at No. 2 Buoy.

24 August 1943:
At 1530 departs Kushiro and undertakes sound trials (sonar) before returning to port at 1715 that day.

25 August 1943:
At 1800 departs Kushiro.

28 August 1943:
At 1145 arrives at Kataoka Bay, Shimushiro Jima.

2 September 1943:
At 1240 departs Kataoka Bay, Shimushiro Jima with NAGATA MARU.

6 September 1943:
At 1015 arrives outside Yokosuka Port and later that day enters the port and moors at No. 2 Buoy.

13 September 1943:
At 1445 departs Yokosuka and at 1715 arrives at Tateyama.

14 September 1943:
At 1600 departs Tateyama.

18 September 1943:
At 1100 arrives at Suribachi Bay, Paramushiro Island.

19 August 1943:
At 1715 departs Suribachi Bay and at 1930 arrives at Musashi Bay.

21 September 1943:
At 1005, arrives at Musashi Bay. Departs the same day and, at 1600, arrives at Paramushiro.

24 September 1943:
At 0900, with Survey Ship KYODO MARU No. 36 (part way only) departs Kataoka Bay, Paramushiro at 15.9 knots escorted by destroyer ASAGUMO (part way).

28 September 1943:
At 1545, arrives at Yokosuka.

1 October 1943:
Rerated an auxiliary transport and reassigned to the Yokosuka Naval District. Navy Captain Yamazaki Sadanao (42) is appointed CO.

2 October 1943:
Assigned to the Northeast Area Forces. That same day starts to load fresh water (up to 3 October), weapons, equipment, ammunition and rations (up to 4 October). One injector is also removed.

4 October 1943:
Embarks men of the 24th AA unit and others totaling 303 passengers. At 1100, departs Yokosuka at 15.9 knots.

9 October 1943:
At 1020, arrives at Paramushiro. Disembarks troops and equipment.

11 October 1943:
Refuels at Kataoka Bay’s tanks (up to 12 October).

12 October 1943:
Embarks 61 passengers. At 1045 departs the anchorage in Kataoka Bay and at 1615 anchors at Kataoka Bay, No. 11 Buoy.

14 October 1943:
Lands deck gun No. 2. Embarks 154 passengers, at 0325 departs No. 11 Buoy Kataoka Bay and at 0650 anchors at Minami Yotsuiwa. Embarks 676 passengers, then departs at 1005 and at 1050 arrives at Chitose-Ura (Karafuto).

15 October 1943:
At 0500 departs Chitose Ura.

17 October 1943:
At 1220 arrives at Kushiro and moors at the inner harbour buoy.

19 October 1943:
ASAKA MARU is part of the Attu Island military operation.

20 October 1943:
At 1355 departs Kushiro.

21 October 1943:
At 1010 arrives at Ominato and moors at the Inner Harbour No. 2 Buoy.

25 October 1943:
At 1650 departs and at 1705 anchors outside Ominato Port.

27 October 1943:
At 1555 departs Ominato with MELBOURNE MARU escorted by destroyer KAMIKAZE.

28 October 1943:
At 1335 arrives at Otaru.

29 October 1943:
At 1620, ASAKA MARU departs Otaru with TAKASHIMA MARU escorted by destroyer KAMIKAZE.

1 November 1943:
Assigned to the Navy Ministry's Supply Force. At 1105, that same day arrives at Kataoka Bay, Shumushiro Jima.

2 November 1943:
The destroyer NOKAZE comes alongside and the ship’s No. 3 gun is removed.

6 November 1943:
At 0325 transfers from unspecified anchorage in Kataoka Bay to No. 11 Buoy arriving at 0615.

7 November 1943:
At 0540 moves from No. 11 Buoy but remains in Kataoka Bay, anchoring at 0620.

8 November 1943:
At 1210 moves from anchorage Kataoka Bay to No. 11 Buoy, mooring at 1250.

9 November 1943:
At 0705 moves from No. 11 Buoy but remains in Kataoka Bay, anchoring at 0725.

11 November 1943:
At 1520 moves from anchorage Kataoka Bay to No. 11 Buoy, mooring at 1545.

12 November 1943:
At 0500 moves from No. 11 Buoy but remains in Kataoka Bay, anchoring at 0530.

14 November 1943:
At 1500 moves from anchorage Kataoka Bay to No. 11 Buoy, anchoring at 1535.

15 November 1943:
At 0400 departs No. 11 Buoy Kataoka Bay escorted by unknown vessels of 9th DesDiv.

17 November 1943:
At 1105, arrives at Kushiro.

20 November 1943:
At 0935 departs Kushiro.

22 November 1943:
At 1235 arrives at Yokosuka.

24 November 1943:
At 1205 transfers from Yokosuka to nearby Kawasaki and at 1510 berths at Mitsui Coal Wharf.

25 November 1943:
At 1525 departs Kawasaki and arrives at nearby Yokohama and anchors at No. 15 buoy at 1610.

26 November 1943:
At 0955 departs Yokohama and arrives shortly at Yokosuka.

27 November 1943:
Begins conversion from an armed merchant cruiser to a transport. During conversion, two 80mm AA and ten Type 96 25-mm AA guns are fitted.

28 December 1943:
The conversion is completed.

30 December 1943:
At 1315, arrives at Yokosuka.

6 January 1944:
At 1300 departs Yokosuka for Brown Island (Eniwetok), Kwajalein and Truk escorted by destroyers ISOKAZE and HAMAKAZE.

12 January 1944:
At 1905 arrives at Brown Island.

24 January 1944:
At 0905 departs Brown Island escorted by destroyer ISOKAZE.

26 January 1944:
At 1020 arrives at Truk.

8 February 1944:
Truk. Receives 1150 tons fuel oil from naval oiler SATA.

15 February 1944:
At 0950 ASAKA MARU departs Truk via Saipan for Yokosuka escorted by destroyer YAMAGUMO.

17 February 1944: American Operation "Hailstone" - The Attack on Truk:
Beginning at dawn, Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA ’10) Task Force 58's five fleet carriers and four light carriers, supported by six battleships, ten cruisers and 28 destroyers, launch air attacks on airfields, shore installations and ships in the lagoon.

40 miles NW of Truk. At about 1300, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Robert C. Giffen's (USNA ’07) Task Group 50. 9's USS NEW JERSEY (BB-62), USS IOWA (BB-61), USS MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36), USS NEW ORLEANS (CA-32), USS BRADFORD (DD-545) and USS BURNS (DD-588) are conducting an anti-shipping sweep around Truk to destroy enemy naval vessels escaping to the north. They sink light cruiser KATORI (Reportedly, a large group of survivors is seen where she sinks, but none are picked up. Later, Captain Oda Tamekiyo (43) is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously), destroyer MAIKAZE (Lost with all hands, including Comdesdiv 4 Captain Isohisa Kenma (48) and auxiliary subchaser SHONAN MARU No. 15 (probably lost with all hands) with gunfire, but destroyer NOWAKI escapes after evading long-range 16-inch gun salvos from the battleships.

That same day, ASAKA MARU is joined by NOWAKI and destroyer YAMAGUMO bound for Yokosuka. At 1400 arrives at Saipan.

19 February 1944:
At 0800 departs Saipan.

24 February 1944:
At 1800 arrives at Yokosuka.

25 February 1944:
At 0900 transfers from Yokosuka to Yokohama.

27 February 1944:
At 0900 transfers from Yokohama to Yokosuka.

7 March 1944:
Transfers from Yokosuka to Yokohama.

9 March 1944:
Transfers from Yokohama to Yokosuka.

20 March 1944:
At 1600 departs Yokosuka and shortly after arrives at Tateyama, Tokyo Bay. At 0200, ASAKA MARU departs Tateyama for Truk in the "Higashi Matsu" No. 3 Toku (special) convoy consisting of SANYO and MANJU (ex-SANTOS) MARUs escorted by destroyers KISHINAMI, OKINAMI and ASASHIMO. The ship carries supplies for the 502 Air Group.

25 March 1944:
SANYO MARU is detached for Saipan.

28 March 1944:
At 1600 the convoy arrives at Truk.

1 April 1944:
At 1545 departs Truk in convoy No. 4401 consisting of ASAKA MARU and MANJU (ex SANTOS) MARU, escorted by submarine chaser CH-30 and destroyer ASASHIMO.

4 April 1944:
At 0710 arrives at Saipan.

7 April 1944:
At 0540 departs Saipan in convoy No. 4407 consisting of ASAKA MARU and MANJU (ex SANTOS) MARU, escorted by kaibokan NOMI and submarine chasers CH-16 and CH-18.

12 April 1944:
At 1600 arrives at Yokosuka.

15 April 1944:
Transfers from Yokosuka to Yokohama.

24 April 1944:
At 1415 transfers from Yokohama to off Kisarazu.

28 April 1944:
At 0600, ASAKA MARU with landing ships T. 128 and T. 150 departs Tokyo Bay for Palau in the Higashi Matsu convoy No. 7 (outbound) consisting of TATSUHARU, MITAKESAN, ASAHISAN, OKINAWA, YAMATAMA, BINGO, MEIRYU, MOJI and MIHO MARUs bound for Saipan; KOSHIN and BOKUYO (MUTSUYO) MARUs for Yap and TAITO MARU for Chichi-jima. The convoy is escorted by kaibokan NOMI, CD-12, CD-18 and CD-22 and subchasers CH-16 and CH-18.

6 May 1944:
Arrives at Saipan.

18 May 1944:
ASAKA MARU departs Palau in a convoy consisting of JINZAN and TENRYUGAWA MARUs escorted by kaibokan CD-12, auxiliary SHOHO MARU, auxiliary minesweeper FUMI MARU No. 2 and auxiliary subchaser CHa-62.

19 May 1944 :
At 1416, BOKUYO (MUTSUYO) MARU and auxiliary subchaser URUPPU MARU join the convoy at 09-43N, 137-14E.

20 May 1944:
At 1750, auxiliary subchaser CHa-62 is detached from the convoy.

21 May 1944:
At 0925, LtCdr Vernon C. Turner's (USNA ’33) USS BILLFISH (SS-286) torpedoes BOKUYO (MUTSUYO) MARU at 13-44N, 140-46E. CD-12 remains with BOKUYO MARU. Later, TENRYUGAWA MARU takes the ship in tow.

24 May 1944:
The rest of the convoy arrives at Saipan. Later, the other ships reach Saipan.

25 May 1944:
ASAKA MARU departs Saipan with HAKOZAKI MARU escorted by destroyer SATSUKI.

30 May 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

20 June 1944:
At 1930, ASAKA MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-67 consisting of transports GOKOKU, MANJU, NANKAI, KINUGASA, ASAHISAN and HAKOZAKI MARUs and oilers MIRI, OTORISAN, NICHINAN No. 2, SARAWAK and SHINEI MARUs escorted by minelayer SHIRATAKA, subchaser CH-61, destroyer KURETAKE and kaibokan HIRADO, KURAHASHI and CD-5 and CD-13.

E 26 June 1944:
CD-2 and destroyer ASAGAO join convoy HI-67.

29 June 1944:
Near dawn, LtCdr (later Captain) Anton W. Gallaher's (USNA ’33) USS BANG (SS-385) picks up convoy HI-67. Gallaher makes a long "end-around" in daylight. At about 1500, he fires all ten torpedoes in his bow and stern tubes at three ships. He damages MIRI and SARAWAK MARUs. Both oilers are hit in the bow, but each manages to proceed to Manila.

30 June 1944:
The main convoy arrives at Manila. GOKOKU, SARAWAK and MIRI MARUs are detached.

3 July 1944:
Departs Manila.

9 July 1944:
Arrives at Singapore. Later went to Bintan Island and loaded bauxite.

6 September 1944:
At 0630, ASAKA MARU departs Singapore for Moji in fleet convoy HI-72 consisting of NANKAI, KIMIKAWA, RAKUYO, ZUIHO and KACHIDOKI MARUs (ex-PRESIDENT HARRISON) escorted by destroyer SHIKANAMI, kaibokan HIRADO (F), MIKURA and KURAHASHI and auxiliary subchaser CHa-19. The convoy carries oil, drummed aviation gasoline, bauxite, mercury and rubber. RAKUYO MARU also carries 1,317 Allied POWs and KACHIDOKI MARU carries another 950 POWs. Soon after departure, KIMIKAWA MARU is detached because of engine failure.

11 September 1944:
S China Sea. 100 miles NE of the Paracel Islands. Convoy MAMO-03 consisting of KIBITSU, GOKOKU and KAGU MARUs joins convoy HI-72.

12 September 1944:
At 0200, HIRADO is torpedoed by Cdr Thomas B. Oakey’s USS GROWLER (SS-215). The kaibokan blows up and sinks with Cdr Segawa Iwao and 106 sailors. The CO of the 6th Escort Convoy Command, Rear Admiral Kajioka Sadamichi (39), victor of Wake Island, is KIA. He is promoted Vice Admiral, posthumously.

At 0531, RAKUYO MARU is torpedoed by LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Eli T. Reich's (USNA ’35) USS SEALION and hit in the No. 1 hold and engine room. She is carrying 1,318 Allied POWs (601 British, 716 Australian and several US POWs), of whom 1,159 are lost in addition to nine crewmen. About the same time, USS SEALION torpedoes NANKAI MARU. The ship is carrying 525 passengers, 6,500-tons of bauxite, 4,000 gasoline drums, 77 mail parcels and 18 funerary urns. A big explosion from the gasoline drums in No. 6 hold engulfs the ship with fire and her depth-charges on stern explode as well. NANKAI MARU goes dead in the water due to mechanical breakdown caused by the shock of explosion. From the exploding ship, passengers jump in the sea. NANKAI MARU manages to float several hours but finally sinks by the stern at 0845 in position 18-15N, 114-21E, taking with her 196 passengers and three crewmen.

240 miles south of Hong Kong. Just before 0700, SHIKANAMI is torpedoed by USS GROWLER and sinks at 18-16 N, 114-40 E. MIKURA rescues eight officers and 120 men, but her CO, LtCdr Takahashi Tatsuhiko and an unknown number of other crewmen are KIA. At 2254, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Paul E. Summers' (USNA ’36) USS PAMPANITO (SS-383) torpedoes and sinks KACHIDOKI MARU with 950 Allied POWs aboard. 12 crewmen, 431 POWs and 45 passengers are lost. USS PAMPANITO also sinks ZUIHO MARU at 19-23N, 111-50E. There are no casualties, but her 8,000-tons cargo of needed aviation gas and oil is lost.

15 September 1944:
The remainder of the convoy arrives at Yulin, Hainan Island.

16 September 1944:
Departs Yulin.

20 September 1944:
Formosa Strait. The convoy is attacked by USAAF Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" bombers. ASAKA, KAGU, GOKOKU and SHINSHO MARUs are damaged in the bombing attack.

25 September 1944:
Arrives at Mako.

9 October 1944:
Urgent repairs by Mako Construction Unit undertaken.

12 October 1944:
Off the Pescadore Islands. Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA ’10) Task Force 38’s planes attack and sink ASAKA MARU carrying 4,800-ton of bauxite at 23-33N, 119-43E. Two crewmen are KIA.

10 January 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Note:
[1] Some of the Japanese meet with high German political and military authorities. Technical members of the delegation visit centers of aircraft industry: Junkers in Leipzig and Messerschmitt in Augsburg and optical giant Carl Zeiss' factory at Jena. Some naval officers visit new battleship TIRPITZ. Later, in return, the Japanese allow the German naval attaché in Tokyo, Admiral Paul Wenneker, to tour top secret YAMATO.

The Japanese Mission visit Italy 18 May–8 Jun 1941 to learn about the Regia Marina's organization, strategy, tactics, logistics and weapons. The Japanese are greeted by the Chief of Italian Naval General Staff Admiral Arturo Riccardi and admirals Fioravanzo, De Courten and Ferreri. The Japanese are especially interested in British military and naval tactics and the results of the carrier strike on Taranto on 12 Nov 1940. Cdr Naito flies to Taranto to check the harbor characteristics and the extent of damage to the Italian battleships. This data later help the Japanese adjust their torpedoes to the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor.

Vice Admiral Nomura remains in Berlin as Head of the Japanese Delegation to the Tripartite Commission until 1943 when he boards U-511 and returns to Japan. Rear Admiral Abe goes to Rome and leads the Japanese Delegation to Tripartite Commission until 1943 when he moves to Berlin to replace Nomura. In the closing days of the war in Europe, Abe escapes to Sweden via Denmark.

[2] Based on a Bill of lading obtained by British Intelligence.

[3] Such action was based on poor intelligence that ASAKA MARU’s radius was only 9,000 miles at 17 knots. Excluding refueling stops at Cape Town, Colombo or Singapore, it seemed reasonable to assume that the Japanese could refuel in the Netherland East Indies. Actually, ASAKA MARU could reach Japan non-stop since she had a radius of 36,000 miles at 15 knots. There was some indication that the Japanese anticipated that London would do no more than make a strong protest.

Thanks go to the late Luke G.A. Ruffato of Italy and Andrew Obluski of Poland for info about ASAKA MARU's activities from 16 Jan '41 to 22 Apr '41.

Thanks also go to Toda Gengoro of Japan for information in Revision 2, the late John Whitman of Virginia, USA and to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France.

- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

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