(ASOSAN MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2016 Bob Hackett

29 January 1934:
Tama. Laid down by Mitsui Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. as Yard No. 201, a 8,812 ton passenger cargo ship for Mitsui Bussan K.K. (Mitsui Line).

22 October 1934:
Launched and named ASOSAN MARU.

20 December 1934:
Completed. She can accommodate nine 1st class passengers and carries a crew of 46.

January 1935:
Placed on Mitsui Line’s Far East ~ New York Express run.

9 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJA. Alloted IJA No.854.

4 December 1941:
At 0600, the Patani Siam (Thailand) Invasion Unit of Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo’s Malaya Invasion Group of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake’s Southern Force departs Samah, Hainan Island. The Invasion Unit carries MajGen Takumi Hiroshi's 5th Division’s 23rd Infantry Brigade and consists of transports ASOSAN, HIROKAWA, KINKA, KINUGAWA, SAGAMI and TOSAN (TOZAN) MARUs escorted by DesDiv 12’s destroyers SHINONOME and SHIRAKUMO. Air cover is provided by IJAAF fighters from Phu Quok Island’s airfield.

7 December 1941:
At 2340, the Invasion Unit arrives off Patani. ASOSAN and KINKA MARUs continue to Thepha, west of Patani, escorted by SHINONOME.

8 December 1941:
At 0400, disembarks troops.

13 December 1941:
Thepha. At about 0005, Dutch Ltz. 1 (later KIA) Anton J. Bussemaker’s submarine Hr.Ms. O-16 (later lost) fires eight torpedoes and badly damages anchored ASOSAN, KINKA and TOSAN (TOZAN) MARUs. All three transports are heavy damaged and settle to the bottom in shallow water, but are later salved.

9 March 1942:
Pattani. Salvage operations begin on ASOSAN and KINKA MARUs. The operations are successful.

March-December 1942:
ASOSAN and KINKA MARUs undergo repairs at Hong Kong, [1]

20 December 1942:

3 September 1943:
ASOSAN MARU departs Ujina and arrives at Osaka.

4 September 1943:
Departs Osaka and arrives at Saeki.

6 September 1943:
ASOSAN MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy O-602 also consisting of AOBASAN MARU. Convoy O-602 carries 546 men of the 66th Field Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 36th 37th and 38th Field Operations Machine Cannon Companies and 25th Field Water Supply and Purification Department. The convoy is escorted by destroyers SATSUKI and HARUKAZE. At 29N, HARUKAZE is detached.

7 September 1943:
At 1910, lookouts aboard AOBASAN MARU sight an enemy submarine, but the convoy is not attacked.

12 September 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

18 September 1943:
Departs Palau via Manila for Singapore.

19 November 1943:
Departs Singapore for Bintan Island. Loads a cargo of bauxite (aluminum ore) and departs Bintan via Manila for Takao.

2 December 1943:
ASOSAN MARU departs Takao in the Special “G” convoy (Part 2) also consisting of NISSHO and SAKITO MARUs with unknown escort.

7 December 1943:
Arrives at Mutsure.

8 December 1943:
Arrives at at Ujina.

29 December 1943:
ASOSAN MARU departs Pusan, Korea in a convoy also consisting of transport KACHIDOKI (ex-PRESIDENT HARRISON). The convoy carries elements of the 2nd Echelon of the 53rd Division, 128th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 53rd Artillery and 53rd Transportation Regiment. Non-divisional units include 51st Independent Field Antiaircraft Artillery Company and 56th Independent Engineer Battalion.

30 December 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

31 December 1943:
At 0600, ASOSAN MARU departs Moji in convoy HI-29 also consisting of transport KACHIDOKI and oiler KUROSHIO MARUs escorted by kaibokan SADO. That same day, fleet oiler ASHIZURI and sister SHIOYA depart Sasebo and join the convoy.

4 January 1944:
At 1600, convoy HI-29 arrives at Takao. Tanker GOYO MARU joins the convoy. ASHIZURI and SHIOYA are detached.

6 January 1944:
At 1500, departs Takao.

9 January 1944:
At 1530, convoy HI-29 arrives at Manila. ASOSAN MARU is detached.

13 January 1944:
At noon, in monsoon weather, ASOSAN MARU departs Manila for Takao in convoy No. 882 also consisting of TOHO, TAMAHOKO and TATSUNO MARUs escorted by torpedo boat TOMOZURU.

15 January 1944:
Luzon Strait, about 75 miles north of Luzon. At 2232, LtCdr (later Cdr) Duncan C. MacMillan’s (USNA ’26) USS THRESHER (SS-200) fires four torpedoes at TATSUNO MARU. Two hit her No. 2 hold. She explodes and breaks in two. The ship’s fore part sinks immediately, but the aft part, although afire, remains afloat.

At 2250, THRESHER fires three torpedoes at TOHO MARU and gets two hits that sink her at 20-40N, 120-36E. Twelve gunners and 35 crewmen are KIA. THRESHER endures 20 DCs dropped by TOMOZURU, but evades unscathed.

16 January 1944:
At 0700, the crew abandons TATSUNO MARU. Later that day, she also sinks at 20-40N, 120-36E. Eight passengers and 12 crewmen are KIA.

17 January 1944:
The remnants of the convoy arrive at Takao.

30 March 1944:
ASOSAN MARU departs Pusan for Ujina carrying the IJA 14th Division's Hq and elements of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 14th Division.

31 March 1944:
Arrives at Ujina and disembarks troops.

7 April 1944:
At 0330, ASOSAN MARU departs Tateyama, Tokyo Bay in convoy HIGASHI MATSU No. 5 also consisting of MIIKE, NOTORO, SEIYO and TOSAN MARUs escorted by destroyer SATSUKI and kaibokan KASADO, MANJU and CD-4. ASOSAN MARU carries troop reinforcements.

10 April 1944:
Arrives at Futami, Chichijima.

18 April 1944:
Departs Futami.

24 April 1944:
Arrives at Palau.

26 April 1944:
At 1640, ASOSAN MARU departs Palau for Tokyo in convoy HIGASHI MATSU No. 5, now also consisting of NOTO, MIIKE and TOSAN MARUs escorted by destroyer SATSUKI and kaibokan KASADO, MANJU and CD-4. ASOSAN MARU carries 643 seamen.

27 April 1944:
90 miles N of Palau. At 0100, LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Frederick J. Harlfinger's (USNA ’37) USS TRIGGER (SS-237) torpedoes and hits and damages ASOSAN MARU. At 0103, TRIGGER also hits and damages MIIKE MARU. At 0250, as ASOSAN MARU is lowering its boats, a second torpedo hits her in No. 1 hold and sets the ship on fire.

At 0430, as ASOSAN MARU is being abandoned, Harlfinger torpedoes and blows the bow off kaibokan KASADO. Fuel flowing from MIIKE MARU catches fire and sets the ship abaze. MANJU is able to rescue some survivors, but MIIKE MARU drifts away and burns for about two days.

28 April 1944:
ASOSAN MARU and kaibokan KASADO arrive at Palau. Both undergo temporary repairs.

30 April 1944:
ASOSAN MARU departs Palau for Davao, Philippines in a convoy also consisting of two unidentified ships escorted by two auxiliary patrol boats (ex-fishing boats).

1 May 1944:
Eastern Mindanao. At 1628, the convoy is spotted by LtCdr (later Captain) Eric L. Barr, Jr.'s (USNA ’34) USS BLUEGILL (SS-242). Barr commences an “end-around”. At 1825, he fires four torpedoes and gets two hits that set the ship afire. The escorts counter attack and drop 18 DCs, but BLUEGILL evades.

2 May 1944:
At 0600, Barr "battle surfaces" and attempts to finish off ASOSAN MARU with his 4-inch deck gun. At 0635, BLUEGILL begins firing 100 rounds and most hit ASOSAN MARU. At 0700, she sinks in the Celebes Sea at 07-08N, 130-00E. Three men are KIA.

Author's Note:
[1] Both ships were temporarily repaired in Hong Kong, then permanently repaired in Japan. ASOSAN MARU's repairs were completed in Dec ‘42. P>

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and the late John Whitman.

Bob Hackett

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