ASAMA MARU: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2009-2015 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Revision 5

10 September 1927:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. as a 16,955 gross register ton passenger liner for the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK)(Japan Mail Steam Ship Co. Ltd) Line. ASAMA was the lead ship of the three-strong ASAMA MARU class (the others were TATSUTA MARU and CHICHIBU/KAMAKURA MARUs). CHICHIBU/KAMAKURA MARU, while of the same class, had only one funnel.

30 October 1928:
Launched and named ASAMA MARU.

15 September 1929:

7 October 1929:
Departs Kobe. Arrives at Yokohama that same day.

11 October 1929:
Departs Yokohama on her maiden voyage to California. She was the first Japanese passenger liner propelled by diesel engines and sets a record for the fastest crossing of Pacific on Yokohama-San Francisco route.

October 1929:
Arrives at Honolulu.

24 October 1929:
Arrives at San Francisco.

21 March 1930:
Arrives at San Francisco.

24 September 1930:
Departs Kobe.

9 October 1930:
Arrives at San Francisco.

14 December 1930:
San Francisco. US Customs agents in San Francisco seized $56,000 worth of opium from ASAMA MARU as festivities mark the liner’s 1st year of trans-Pacific service.

ASAMA MARU is on NYK’s premier express service, regularly sailing between Yokohama, Honolulu and San Francisco with occasional stops at Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe and Los Angeles.

August 1932:
ASAMA MARU carries the Japanese olympic team to 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. While in the harbor, actor Douglas Fairbanks and wife actress Mary Pickford board ASAMA MARU to visit Baron Nishi Takeichi, the Olympic show jumping Gold Medalist who is KIA on Iwo Jima during World War II. [1]

1 April 1937:
Departs San Francisco for Yokohama. Among her passengers is author Miss Helen Keller, a world famous blind, and deaf mute, carrying a message of goodwill from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2 September 1937:
Kowloon Bay. During the Great Hong Kong Typhoon, ASAMA MARU is ripped from her moorings in Junk Bay (Cheung Kwan O) and driven into Saiwan Bay. The Italian Lines’ 18,765 GRT passenger liner CONTE MARU also breaks her moorings, collides with ASAMA MARU around 0400. ASAMA MARU runs aground, but remains upright and sustains only minimal damage, but assumes a 6-degree list. The typhoon kills 11,000 people.

12 September 1937:
Salvage vessel YUSHO MARU engages in refloating ASAMA MARU, removing two diesel engines and other items with a total weight of 1,300 tons.

11 March 1938:
ASAMA MARU is refloated and towed to Tai Koo dock for repairs.

18 March 1938:
Departs Hong Kong.

2 April 1938:
Arrives at Nagasaki under her own power. Enters dry-dock at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding shipyard.

15 September 1938:
After the completion of repairs rejoins NYK’s service.

6 January 1940:
At 1200, departs San Francisco under the command of Captain Watabe Yoshisada.

11 January 1940:
Arrives at Honolulu. ASAMA MARU. Among her passengers are about 50 German citizens, some of whom are seamen and other businessmen.

That same day, in accordance with Admiralty instructions, the commander-in-chief of the British China station orders Captain A.D. Read’s light cruiser HMS LIVERPOOL accompanied by armed merchant cruiser ARAWA to intercept ASAMA MARU.

14 January 1940:
ASAMA MARU crosses the International Date Line. The following week, ASAMA MARU encounters severe gales.

21 January 1940:
35 miles SE of Yokohama About 100 miles SE of Yokohama. At about 1230, Captain Read of HMS LIVERPOOL signals ASAMA MARU to stop at once. At 1253. ASAMA MARU is still proceeding at 18 knots, so LIVERPOOL fires a blank round. ASAMA MARU stops within 35 miles of Nozaki Lighthouse, Boso Peninsula at 34 -35N, 140-32E.

At 1315, Captain Read sends a a boarding party armed with pistols. The British officer in charge explains to Captain Watabe that it will be necessary to take 21 German passengers as prisoners of war. At 1435, the boarding party leaves the ship with the Germans, all former officers or technicians discharged from Standard Oil tankers. At 1440, HMS LIVERPOOL signals “Proceed”. Shortly after nightfall ASAMA MARU arrives at Yokohama. LIVERPOOL takes the Germans to Hong Kong.

24 January 1940:
After the LIVERPOOL incident, NYK line's owners force Captain Watabe to retire. Capt Fujita Toru is appointed the new skipper. [2]

29 February 1940:
Outside Yokohama. Nine previously captured German civilians are returned to ASAMA MARU by British armed merchant cruiser HMS KANIMBLA.

25 October 1940:
About noon, ASAMA MARU departs San Francisco for Yokohama on "Voyage No. 60 Homeward." Among her 2nd class passengers are 14 crewmembers (6 officers and 8 sailors) of the scuttled German ocean liner COLUMBUS traveling under the disguise of American students. [3]

30 October 1940:
Arrives at Honolulu, departs at noon the following day.

12 November 1940:
Arrives at Yokohama.

E 4 February 1941:
Departs Yokohama for San Francisco, carrying Polish Jewish refugees fleeing Soviet internment.

E 22 February 1941:
Arrives in Honolulu.

E 23 February 1941:
Departs Honolulu for San Francisco.

6 March:
Arrives at San Francisco.

E 30 April 1941:
Departs Yokohama for San Francisco, filled nearly to capacity with Jewish refugees from Poland who had managed to get to Japan via Siberia.

E 12 May 1941:
Arrives at San Francisco.

4 June 1941:
Arrives at Batavia (now Jakarta) for Kobe.

14 June 1941:
Arrives at Kobe.

29 June 1941:
ASAMA MARU is chartered by Germany to pick up four hundred German and Italian nationals detained in the Dutch East Indies since the invasion of the Netherlands by Axis forces. Departs Batavia with 666 evacuees.

18 July 1941:
Departs Yokohama for San Francisco, carrying 98 passengers, including 47 Japanese born in the US.

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

That same day, ASAMA MARU turns about and heads west back towards Japan.

24 July 1941:
Japanese forces occupy Southern Indochina. That same morning , in the vicinity of the 180th meridian, ASAMA MARU turns north and proceeds far enough north that she enters cold fog banks. The ship heaves to and stops.

26 July 1941:
Hyde Park, N. Y. In retaliation for the occupation of Indochina, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an Executive Order that seizes all Japanese assets in the United States. American trade with Japan, including sales of oil and scrap metal ends. Britain and the Dutch East Indies follow suit. Japan looses access to most of its overseas trade and its imported oil.

That evening, ASAMA MARU's crew paints her funnels black and paints out the Japanese flags on the hull and deck.

27 July 1941:
In the evening, a notice is posted stating that the ship has been ordered back to Yokohama. The ship heads west for 36 hours.

28 July 1941:
In the evening, the passengers note that the ship is again headed east. The notice is taken down and the ship continues on to Honolulu.

31 July 1941:
At 1530, ASAMA MARU arrives at Pier No. 8 in Honolulu.

1 August 1941:
At 0900, departs Honolulu for San Francisco.

4 August 1941:
980 miles E of Honolulu. ASAMA MARU is recalled to Japan.

10 August 1941:
Returns to Yokohama.

30 August 1941:.
ASAMA MARU departs Kobe for Shanghai carrying 350 Polish Jewish refugees

31 August 1941:
Arrives at Shanghai. The Jewish refugees are disembarked. The Shanghai Municipal Council arranges for the Beth Aharon synagogue to accommodate 100 of the refugees. The Shanghai Jewish Club takes 29 men and the remainder are housed at Ping Liang.

October 1941:
Kobe. Enters drydock at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. shipyard.

October 1941:
On its eastbound crossing the ship is almost completely filled with Jewish refugees from Poland who came via Siberia and Japan.

6 November 1941:
Departs Yokohama for Singapore. Approximately 450 Japanese civilians are evacuated.

November 1941:
Arrives at Manila.

26 November 1941:
Arrives at Kobe.

30 November 1941:
All three ASAMA MARU class passenger ships are chartered by the IJN.

2 December 1941:
Departs Yokosuka for Saipan.

6 December 1941:
Arrives at Saipan. Embarks 2,900 soldiers and 2,800 tons of cargo, including ammunition.

20 December 1941:
Departs Yokosuka and later arrives at Yokohama.

22 December 1941:
Departs Yokohama.

23 December 1941:
Arrives at Osaka.

24 December 1941:
Departs Osaka.

25 December 1941:
Arrives at Kure.

29 December 1941:
Departs Kure.

January 1942:
Attached to the 11th Air Fleet HQ.

1 January 1942:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

5 January 1942:
Departs Takao.

9 January 1942:
Arrives at Jolo, Philippines.

11 January 1942:
Departs Jolo.

12 January 1942:
Arrives at Davao, Philippines.

14 January:
Departs Davao.

16 January 1942:
Arrives at Tarakan, Borneo. Disembarks paratroopers of the 3rd Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force's (SNLF) 1001st Unit. This is the same unit that captures Kupang (Koepang), West Timor on 20-22 Feb '42

20 January 1942:
Takes on fuel and departs Tarakan.

21 January 1942:
Arrives at Jolo and later departs.

22 January 1942:
Arrives at Davao.

24 January 1942:
Departs Davao.

28 January 1942:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

29 January 1942:
Departs Mako and later that day arrives at Takao.

2 February 1942:
Departs Takao.

6 February 1942:
Arrives at Davao.

8 February 1942:
Departs Davao.

9 February 1942:
Arrives at Jolo.

12 February 1942:
Departs Jolo.

13 February 1942:
Arrives at Davao.

25 February 1942:
Departs Davao.

27 March 1942:
Arrives at Kendari, Celebes.

26 March 1942:
Departs Kendari.

31 March 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

3 April 1942:
Departs Takao.

6 April 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

16 April 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

20 April 1942:
Arrives at Saipan.

21 April 1942:
Departs Saipan.

22 April 1942:
Departs Truk for Rabaul.

25 April 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

28 April 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Ponape.

30 April 1942:
Arrives at Ponape.

2 May 1942:
Departs Ponape.

3 May 1942:
Arrives at Kusaie and later that day departs.

4 May 1942:
Arrives at Jaluit.

5 May 1942:
Departs Jaluit and later that day arrives at Kusaie. Loads phosphorus.

6 May 1942:
Departs Kusaie and later that day arrives at Roi.

7 May 1942:
Departs Roi.

8 May 1942:
Arrives at Brown Island.

10 May 1942:
Departs Brown Island.

12 May 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein and later departs.

14 May 1942:
Temporarily designated as a diplomatic exchange vessel.

7 June 1942:
Departs Nagasaki.

8 June 1942:
Arrives at Kobe. Embarks Latin American consular staff and their families.

12 June 1942:
Departs Kobe.

13 June 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama. Based on international treaties, her hull is painted as a diplomatic exchange vessel.

17 June 1942:
Tokyo. U. S. Ambassador and Mrs. Joseph P. Grew and about 430 other American diplomats leave their compound and arrive by train at Yokohama where they board ASAMA MARU. Members of the Spanish legation in Tokyo are also boarded. The ship sits at anchor until final details of the voyage are worked out.

18 June 1942:
M. S. GRIPSHOLM departs New York for Japan on the first exchange voyage with 1,083 Japanese diplomats including Ambassador Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura and special representative Kurusu Saburo (ex-Ambassador to Germany, 1939-Nov 1941), businessmen, journalists and their families who were in America when war was declared. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, GRIPSHOLM also picks up 417 Japanese passengers including the staff of the Japanese Embassy. The embassy's portrait of Emperor Hirohito (Showa) is carried on board covered by a cloth. [4]

25 June 1942:
Tokyo Bay. At 1300, ASAMA MARU departs Kisarazu Bight for Shanghai.

June 1942:
Departs Shanghai for Hong Kong.

29 June 1942:
Arrives at Hong Kong. Embarks 377 Americans from the U.S. consulate, Canadians and other foreign nationals.

30 June 1942:
Departs Hong Kong.

3 July 1942:
Arrives at Saigon. 114 more repatriates are boarded.

4 July 1942:
Departs Saigon.

6 July 1942:
Arrives at Singapore. Italian diplomatic exchange vessel CONTE VERDE also arrives after leaving Shanghai on 29 June. Both ships load fresh water and supplies and embark some more repatriates.

9 July 1942:
Departs Singapore accompanied by CONTE VERDE carrying about 600 passengers from Shanghai. The ships sail in tandem and pass through the narrow Sunda Straits, between Sumatra and Java. ASAMA MARU and CONTE VERDE cross the Indian Ocean with ASAMA MARU leading.

22 July 1942:
At about 1300, ASAMA MARU and CONTE VERDE arrive at Delagoa Bay, Lorenco Marques, Portuguese East Africa. ASAMA MARU is carrying 789 civilians from Japan, South-East Asia and the Philippines. CONTE VERDE is carrying about 600 passengers from Shanghai.

23 July 1942:
The first exchange is made. Japanese and Siamese passengers are disembarked from GRIPSHOLM and embarked on ASAMA MARU bow to bow, while the western nationals walk on another gangway, stern to stern. The procedure takes four hours. The majority of personnel are not military, but civilians who had been interned.

6,993 American and Canadian Red Cross parcels of relief supplies for Allied prisoners of war and internees from GRIPSHOLM and along with supplies from the South African Red Cross, are loaded aboard ASAMA MARU and CONTE VERDE. The supplies reach Yokohama in late August.

26 July 1942:
ASAMA MARU departs Lorenco Marques for Yokohama via the Indian Ocean.

28 July 1942:
At 1330, GRIPSHOLM departs Lorenco Marques with 1,510 passengers on board of whom just under 600 are missionaries and their families and 300 are children. GRIPSHOLM stops at Rio de Janeiro to drop off South American diplomats and their families. On 25 August, she docks on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

9 August 1942:
ASAMA MARU arrives at Singapore.

11 August 1942:
Departs Singapore.

19 August 1942:
Arrives at Tateyama Bight and departs later that day.

20 August 1942:
At 0800, arrives at Yokohama.

5 September 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka. Re-requisitioned by the IJN and registered as a charter ship in the Yokosuka Naval District.

12 September 1942:
Departs Yokosuka. Arrives at Yokohama

14 September 1942:
Departs Yokohama.

15 September 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

16 September 1942:
Departs Kure.

17 September 1942:
Arrives at Leisui, China.

18 September 1942:
Departs Leisui.

23 September 1942:
Arrives at Saipan.

24 September 1942:
Departs Saipan.

25 September 1942:
Arrives at Fais Island and later departs.

26 September 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

27 September 1942:
Departs Palau.

29 September 1942:
Loads ammonium nitrate.

30 September 1942:
Departs Palau.

1 October 1942:
Arrives at Kendari.

2 October 1942:
Departs Kendari.

4 October 1942:
Arrives at Makassar.

6 October 1942:
Departs Makassar.

7 October 1942:
Arrives at Balikpapan, Borneo. Loads fuel oil.

10 October 1942:
Departs Balikpapan and arrives at Makassar, Celebes. Later that day, ASAMA MARU departs Makassar carrying 1,000 Allied POWs on a thirteen day trip to Nagasaki.

23 October 1942:
Arrives at Nagasaki. Disembarks POWs.

25 October 1942:
Departs Nagasaki.

26 October 1942:
Arrives at Osaka.

E 27 October 1942:
Departs Yokohama for Wake Island.

1 November 1942:
Arrives at Wake Island and later departs for Yokohama carrying 20 POWs.

6 November 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama. Disembarks POWs.

November 1942:
Enters drydock at Asano Shipyard.

2 December 1942:
Departs Yokohama for Osaka.

3 December 1942:
Arrives at Osaka.

4 December 1942:
Departs Osaka.

5 December 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

6 December 1942:
Departs Kure.

7 December 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

11 December 1942:
Departs Moji.

13 December 1942:
Arrives at Nagasaki.

25 December 1942:
Departs Nagasaki and later that day arrives at Sasebo.

26 December 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

27 December 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

28 December 1942:
Departs Kure.

30 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka

5 January 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

10 January 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

19 January 1943:
Departs Truk.

24 January 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

27 January 1943:
Departs Yokosuka

29 January 1943:
Arrives at Kure

30 January 1943:
Departs Kure.

February 1943:
A hydrophone is installed and 16 depth charges are also added.

1 February 1943:
Arrives at Shanghai.

5 February 1943:
Departs Shanghai.

7 February 1943:
Arrives at Osaka.

17 February 1943:
Departs Osaka and later arrives at Kobe.

27 February 1943:
Departs Kobe.

28 February 1943:
Arrives at Kure

2 March 1943:
Departs Kure.

3 March 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

6 March 1943:
Departs Sasebo escorted by destroyer HAGIKAZE.

8 March 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

10 March 1943:
Departs Takao. At 1618, LtCdr Richard W. Peterson's USS SUNFISH (SS-281) sights a large ship painted gray at 27-04N, 121-14. Peterson identifies her as either ASAMA or TATUTA MARU. At 1618, SUNFISH also sights a destroyer at 8,000 yards. At 1639, Peterson fires four torpedoes at ASAMA MARU, but her hydrophone operator picks up their noises and the liner commences a sharp turn and escapes being hit. SUNFISH evades eight close depth charges dropped by HAGIKAZE. [5]

12 March 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

13 March 1943:
Departs Manila.

16 March 1943:
Arrives at Balikpapan, Borneo. Takes on fuel oil.

19 March 1943:
Departs Balikpapan.

20 March 1943:
Arrives at Makassar.

27 March 1943:
Departs Makassar.

30 March 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

3 April 1943:
Departs Singapore.

8 April 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

10 April 1943:
Departs Takao.

14 April 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

15 April 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

16 April 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

16 April 1943:
Departs Kure.

17 April 1943:
Arrives at Osaka.

19 April 1943:
Departs Osaka and later that day arrives at Kobe.

30 April 1943:
Departs Kobe.

1 May 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

3 May 1943:
Departs Kure.

4 May 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

6 May 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

9 May 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

11 May 1943:
Departs Takao.

13 May 1943:
Arrives at Manila

14 May 1943:
Departs Manila.

17 May 1943:
Arrives at Balikpapan. Loads fuel oil.

20 May 1943:
Departs Balikpapan.

21 May 1943:
Arrives at Makassar.

27 May 1943:
Departs Makassar.

30 May 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

E 1 June 1943:
Departs Singapore for Macassar.

3 June 1943:
At 0600, departs Macassar for Singapore.

E 5 June 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

10 June 1943:
Departs Singapore in a convoy consisting only of ASAMA MARU escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA.

12 June 1943:
Arrives at St. Jacques.

13 June 1943:
Departs St Jacques in the "T" Convoy consisting of ASAMA MARU and tanker OTORISAN MARU escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA.

14 June 1943:
Departs St. Jacques.

17 June 1943:
At 0500, OTORISAN MARU is detached for Manila at 14-55N, 118-44E.

18 June 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

20 June 1943:
Departs Takao.

23 June 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

24 June 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

25 June 1943:
Arrives at Kure

26 June 1943:
Departs Kure.

27 June 1943:
Arrives at Kobe

28 June 1943:
Departs Kobe and arrives at Osaka.

30 June 1943:
Departs Osaka and arrives at Kobe.

13 July 1943:
Departs Kobe.

14 July 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

16 July 1943:
Departs Kure.

17 July 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

21 July 1943:
At 1100, convoy HI-03 departs Moji consisting of transports AWA, NANKAI and SEIA MARUs and oilers NICHINAN and OMUROSAN MARUs escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA.

22 July 1943:
Formosa Straits. At 0900, ASAMA MARU joins the convoy. At 2355, SEIA MARU is torpedoed and badly damaged by three of six torpedoes fired in a surface radar attack by LtCdr Eugene T. Sands' USS SAWFISH (SS-276). Later, the ship is taken in tow by NICHINAN MARU and together they head back to Japan.

23 July 1943:
In the morning, AWA and ASAMA MARUs split from the now unescorted convoy and steam ahead.

25 July 1943:
Convoy HI-03 consisting of ASAMA, NANKAI and AWA MARUs and tanker OMUROSAN MARU arrives at Takao. At Takao, the convoy is joined by cargo ship ARIMASAN MARU and kaibokan ETOROFU.

26 July 1943:
At 1600, the convoy departs Takao.

29 July 1943:
At 1650, surfaced German U-511 inbound from France encounters Singapore-bound convoy HI-03. The sight of a strange-looking submarine causes confusion aboard OMUROSAN MARU and her gunners fire three shells at U-511, before the mistake is cleared up. The skipper of ETOROFU inspects U-511 and personally apologizes for the attack.

1 August 1943:
At 1400, arrives at Singapore.

23 July 1943:
In the morning, ASAMA and AWA MARUs split from the now unescorted convoy and steam ahead.

24 July 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

26 July 1943:
At 1600, departs Takao.

1 August 1943:
At 1400, arrives at Singapore.

7 August 1943:
Balikpapan. A case of cholera occurs aboard ASAMA MARU while the ship was discharging cargo. She is quarantined for approximately one month.

6 September 1943:
Departs Singapore.

9 September 1943:
Arrives at Balikpapan, Borneo. Loads fuel oil.

13 September 1943:
Departs Balikpapan.

16 September 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

21 September 1943:
Departs Singapore for Moji carrying 71 Allied POWs. The conditions under which the POW's were moved were bad, the holds were poorly vented, with little food and water, no medical attention or toilet facilities.

29 September 1943:
Arrives at St. Jacques.

30 September 1943:
At 1900, ASAMA MARU departs Cap St Jacques for Moji in convoy HI-10 consisting of tankers MIRI and TATEKAWA MARUs (and possibly OTOWASAN MARU) and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA.

6 October 1943:
Convoy HI-10 is amalgamated with convoy MA-06 (composition unknown).

9 October 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

13 October 1943:
Departs Moji.

14 October 1943:
Arrives at Kobe

21 October 1943:
Departs Kobe

22 October 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo

28 October 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

28 October 1943:
At 1607, convoy HI-17 departs Moji for Singapore consisting of ASAMA MARU and tankers ITSUKUSHIMA, OMUROSAN and TATEKAWA MARUs escorted by destroyer FUYO and kaibokan ETOROFU and MATSUWA.

1 November 1943:
At 1115, HI-17 arrives at Takao. Tanker TARAKAN MARU, fleet oiler TAKASAKI, passenger ships KACHIDOKI MARU (ex-USS PRESIDENT HARRISON) and AKITSU MARU and two unidentified merchant ships join the convoy.

2 November 1943:
At 1500, convoy HI-17 departs Takao.

4 November 1943:
At 0400, destroyer FUYO departs Manila to meet convoy HI-17 incoming from Takao. At 1900, the convoy arrives at Manila. AKITSU MARU is detached.

5 November 1943:
Convoy HI-17 departs Manila.

11 November 1943:
At 1000, arrives at Singapore.

16 November 1943:
Departs Truk with NANPO MARU.

25 November 1943:
ASAMA MARU departs Singapore in special convoy "G" consisting of tanker MIRI and OKIKAWA MARUs and and five unidentified ships escorted by destroyer URANAMI.

30 November 1943:
URANAMI is detached. At 1000, eight miles and 220 degrees off Corregidor, kaibokan TSUSHIMA takes over as escort to Manila..

2 December 1943:
The convoy arrives at Takao.

5 December 1943:
Departs Takao.

9 December 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

12 December 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

13 December 1943:
Arrives at Kure and departs that same day.

14 December 1943:
Arrives at Kobe.

16 December 1943:
Departs Kobe and arrives at Innoshima.

17 December 1943:
Enters dock at Hitachi Shipbuilding, Ltd., Innoshima.

Captain Agawa Ryozaburo is assigned as ASAMA MARU's new skipper.

18 January 1944:

19 January 1944:
Departs Innoshima.

21 January 1944:
Arrives at Sasebo.

1 February 1944:
At 0700, departs Moji in fast convoy HI-41 consisting of transports ASAMA, TEIA (ex- French Liner ARAMIS), AWA and NANKAI MARUs and tanker NAMPO MARU plus another unidentified ship (probably tanker MIRI MARU) escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA.

2 February 1944:
At 0730, minesweeper W-27 joins as an additional escort.

3 February 1944:
W-27 departs convoy at 0200.

11 February 1944:
At 1430, arrives at Singapore.

13 February 1944:
At 1600, ASAMA MARU departs Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-40 consisting of tankers NANEI, KOKUEI, ICHIYO, NICHIRIN and NAMPO MARUs.

19 February 1944:
South China Sea, 300 miles W of Luzon. Captain (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Thomas M. Dykers’ USS JACK (SS-259) attacks HI-40 and sinks KOKUEI and NANEI MARUs at 14-34N, 114-11E, NICHIRIN MARU at 15-40N, 115-48E and ICHIYO MARU at 15-46N, 115-57E.

24 February 1944:
20 miles E of Formosa. At 0336, LtCdr John A. Moore’s USS GRAYBACK (SS-208) torpedoes and sinks oiler NAMPO MARU at 24-20N, 122-25E and lightly damages ASAMA MARU at 24-15N, 122-19E. SHIMUSHU counterattacks unsuccessfully. Later, ASAMA MARU arrives at Keelung. Convoy HI-40 is dissolved.

25 February 1944:
Keelung. Enters drydock.

15 May 1944:

16 May 1944:
Departs Keelung.

20 May 1944:
Arrives at Kobe.

28 May 1944:
Departs Kobe.

1 June 1944:
Arrives at Kure. Probably at this time AA armament is fitted, including two 8-cm and several 25-mm AA guns plus 13.2-mm and 7.7-mm machine guns.

25 June 1944:
Departs Kure.

28 June 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

10 July 1944:
Departs Kure.

12 July 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

13 July 1944:
At 1600, convoy HI-69 departs Mutsure for Manila consisting of escort carriers KAIYO and TAIYO each loaded with aircraft, ASAMA, KIMIKAWA, AKI, SAIGON, HAKKO, KACHIDOKI (ex-PRESIDENT HARRISON), MANKO MARUs and possibly MANJU MARU and tankers OTOWASAN, KOEI MARU, OMUROSAN, KUROSHIO, HARIMA, SERIA, TENEI MARUs escortied by Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu (former ComSubRon 1) Eighth Escort Convoy Command’s escort carrier SHINYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, SADO, CD-7 and CD-17.

18 July 1944:
Near Takao, Formosa. About 0600, LtCdr John J. Flachsenhar's USS ROCK (SS-274) fires four torpedoes at HARIMA MARU, but misses. Cdr Alan Banister's USS SAWFISH (USS 276) then fires nine torpedoes at the convoy. HARIMA MARU is hit by a single torpedo, but remains able to steam. KOEI MARU counter-attacks with depth charges.

At 1055, LtCdr Roger M. Keithy's USS TILEFISH (SS-307) torpedoes and heavily damages CD-17. KOEI MARU counter-attacks with depth charges. The convoy continues to Manila without stopping at Takao as originally planned (less MANKO MARU detached the day before and damaged HARIMA MARU and CD-17 that put into Takao.

20 July 1944:
At 2100, arrives at Manila.

25 July 1944:
At 0400, convoy MAMO-01 that includes ASAMA MARU transport GOKOKU departs Manila for Takao escorted by escort carrier KAIYO, destroyers AKIKAZE, HATSUSHIMO and TSUGA and minesweeper W-28.

27 July 1944:
At 1400, arrives at Takao.

30 July 1944:
Departs Takao. HATSUSHIMO and torpedo boat HIYODORI remain as escorts to ASAMA and GOKOKU MARUs.

3 August 1944:
Arrives at Nagasaki.

19 August 1944:
Departs Nagasaki and arrives at Sasebo.

8 September 1944:
At 1100, ASAMA MARU and departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-75 consisting of cargo-passenger SAIGON MARU, flying boat tender AKITSUSHIMA and oilers YUHO, NICHIEI, RYOEI, TOHO (1944 built), SERIA, AMATO and MANEI MARUs escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, DesDiv 30’s YUZUKI and UZUKI and kaibokan KANJU, MANJU and MIYAKE.

12 September 1944:
In the morning, SAIGON MARU, YUZUKI and KANJU are detached for the China coast. At 1730, ASAMA MARU is detached and heads for Keelung.

20 September 1944:
Departs Keelung.

24 September 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

26 September 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

5 October 1944:
Departs Kure.

8 October 1944:
Captain Agawa Ryosaburo’s ASAMA MARU departs Moji for Shanghai escorted by kaibokan OKINAWA and torpedo boat SAGI. ASAMA MARU carries about. 5,000 army and navy troops including 246 men of the 9th Shinyo Unit's base force and 50 "Maru-yon” explosive motorboats and 50 pilots for these boats.

10 October 1944:
En route, the convoy receives news about the appearance of an enemy task force east of Formosa. As a consequence, ASAMA MARU shelters the same day at Ssu-Chiao Island ("Raffles Island") Anchorage, south of Shanghai.

12 October 1944:
At 1200, convoy MOMA-04 consisting of transports NOTO, KINKA, KASHII and KOZU MARUs departs from Woosung, Shanghai escorted by Rear Admiral Matsuyama Mitsuharu’s (former CO of KITAKAMI) 7th Convoy Escort Group consisting of kaibokan SHIMUSHU (F), CD-11 and CD-13.

At Shanghai, the four transports had loaded more than 12,000 men of the 1st Army Division. NOTO MARU carries the 57th Regiment. Additionally, NOTO and KOZU MARUs each carry one company of the 12th Sea Raiding Squadron. The same day the four ships arrive at the Ssu-Chiao Island Anchorage and unite with ASAMA MARU. The convoy remains at Ssu-Chiao Island Anchorage awaiting conditions to improve. [6]

20 October 1944:
At 0230, high-speed convoy MOMA-04 departs Ssu-Chiao Island Anchorage, escorted by kaibokan SHIMUSHU (flagship), OKINAWA, CD-11 and CD-13. Convoy commodore Rear Admiral Matsuyama is embarked in SHIMUSHU. The convoy initially proceeds southward along the China coast.

22 October 1944:
In the morning passes off Takao. On its way toward the dangerous Bashi Channel the convoy receives air cover by 10 planes. At 1900, anchors at Sabtang Channel, Batan Islands.

23 October 1944:
At 0300, departs Sabtang Channel. From now onward, the convoy is continously molested by enemy submarines. Again and again escort vessels drop depth charges to prevent subs from attack. On the evening anchors at Cabugao Bay, NW coast of Luzon.

24 October 1944:
At 0700, departs Cabugao Bay. At 1730, anchors at Lapog Bay where a part of the embarked soldiers are landed.

25 October 1944:
At 0330, departs Lapog Bay. At 1900, closed the shore and, at 2351, anchors at Lingayen Bay.

26 October 1944:
At 0600, departs Lingayen Bay. At 2315, safely arrives at Manila and disembarks the troops, thus ending one of the most successful Japanese troop transport operation.

28 October 1944:
Due to imminent air raid danger, the ASAMA MARU takes shelter outside the harbor on the evening of this day.

29 October 1944:
At 1957, convoy MAMO-04 departs Manila for Takao consisting of ASAMA MARU escorted by torpedo boat SAGI and minesweepers W-17 and W-18. Convoy commodore Captain Kurushima is embarked on the W-17. ASAMA MARU is carrying a total of 1,383 military personnel, civilian employess for the military and many survivors from sunken merchant ships as well as a cargo of 170 tons of iron scrap, 80 tons of hemp, 80 tons of raw rubber and other items. SAGI is leading, followed by ASAMA MARU which is flanked by the two minesweepers.

30 October 1944:
At 1124, a lookout on the stern gun platform sights a large aircraft, identified as a B-24 bomber. At once ASAMA MARU prepares for battle, but the plane keeps away at a distance of 16,000 yards (15,000 meters) flying at an altitude of about 11,500 feet (3,500 meters). At 1312, the aircraft disappears. An enemy submarine is discovered in the evening and one minesweeper immediately rushes to scene and drops depth charges.

31 October 1944:
In the morning, the weather become stormy. At 0654, a lookout on the bridge spots a dark object on the sea. A look with the 8cm telescope reveals the object as either a sailing ship or a small warship. Later the object disappears in a squall. At 1157, a lookout using binoculars discovers a drifting lifeboat with three or four occupants. Captain Agawa immediately informs Captain Kurushima and shortly afterwards SAGI is detached for rescue. Five hours after having sighted the mysterious ship it appears once again. The convoy commodore is informed by use of flag signals. He detaches W-18 to investigate the strange vessel. With SAGI engaged in recsue operation and W-18 on the way in search of the stranger, ASAMA MARU now decreases speed to 11 knots to keep in vicinity of the escorts. During this period it becomes clear that an enemy submarine is stalking the convoy and, at 1725, ASAMA MARU reverses course and later alters again course to due east.

1 November 1944:
At 0030, 0100 and 0200, discovers an enemy submarine; part of its conning tower is recognized. The ship is now in imminent danger and returns to her original speed and continous zigzagging.

Bashi Channel. At 0435, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral/COMSUBPAC) John H. Maurer's USS ATULE (SS-403) torpedoes ASAMA MARU in her starboard side. The first torpedo hits the auxiliary engine room while the 2nd torpedo explodes in the main engine room. The big ship immediately develops a heavy list to starboard. All functions lost, there is no power as the generators are destroyed. At 0438, two further torpedoes hit to starboard at No. 3 hold and near No. 4 hold. The stern settles rapidly. At 0446, ASAMA MARU goes down vertically, stern first at 20-17N, 117-08E. 98 of 201 crew, 21 of 266 gunners and armed guards and 355 of 1,383 military personnel and passengers are KIA. Survivors are rescued by the three escort vessels.[7]

2 November 1944:
At 1600, the survivors of ASAMA MARU including Captain Agawa are landed at Takao.

Authors' Notes:
[1] Army LtCol/Baron Nishi Takeichi is portrayed in Clint Eastwood's 2006 film "Letters from Iwo Jima".

[2] According to some sources, Captain Watabe later commited suicide.

[3] In addition to COLUMBUS’ Second Officer Jan Kampen and Third Officer Heino Lampe, the German party included her junior officer Otto P. Giese, who later served as the 2nd Watch Officer on U-181.

[4] The U.S. Department of State chartered Swedish liner M. S. GRIPSHOLM as an exchange and repatriation ship under the auspices of the International Red Cross, from 1942 to 1946. In addition to Japanese nationals, she also carri ed German nationals to exchange points where she picked up Americans and Canadians. GRIPSHOLM’s Swedish captain and crew made 12 round trips and carried a total of 27,712 reptriates. Exchanges with the Japanese were made at neutral ports: Lourenco Marques in Portuguese East Africa and Mormugoa in Portuguese India. Exchanges with the Germans took place at Stockholm, Sweden or Lisbon, Portugal.

[5] SUNFISH heard three explosions and saw a column of water rise under ASAMA MARU's forward funnel. These were most probably premature and failed detonations of SUNFISH's unreliable Mark 14-3A torpedoes.

[6] TAKATSU is another reading of same kanji, but in this case, the name is KOZU.

[7] According to other sources, 550 crew and passengers are KIA.

Special thanks go to Peter Cundall of Australia for info in Revision 2 and to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany for info in Revision 4. Thanks also go to Professor Andrew Jakubowicz of the University of New South Wales, Australia. for info in Revision 5.

- Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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