RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(ATLAS MARU MARU, prewar)

Transport ATLAS MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011 Bob Hackett


12 March 1919:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi shipyard as a 7,347-ton passenger cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line of Kobe.

31 July 1919:
Launched and named ATLAS MARU.

20 August 1919:
Completed and placed on OSK's Yokohama ~ Melbourne, Australia route. She can accommodate six 1st class and carries a crew of 61 men.

January 1920:
ATLAS MARU departs Kobe for London, England and Antwep, Belgium on her maiden voyage.

1920 ~ 1937:
ATLAS MARU is rotated among OSK's various routes including those with ports of call in eastern South America, New York and Bombay, India.

1937~1941:
In service between Kobe and West African ports of call such as Portuguese Angola, Belgian Congo (now Demoratic Republic of Congo), French Cameroon, Nigeria, Dahomey, Guiana, British Gold Coast (now Ghana) and Cape Town.

October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport. She is painted in IJA camouflage colors and fitted with AA guns.

14 November 1941:
Departs Ujina for Takao, Formosa (now Taiwan).

18 February 1942: Operation "J" - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
ATLAS MARU is attached to Vice Admiral Takahashi's Third Fleet, Southern Force, Netherlands East Indies Force in Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo’s Western Java Seizure Force. Departs Camranh Bay in a convoy comprised of 56 troop transports. They carry the 2nd Infantry Division for the invasions of Merak and Bantam Bay, Java escorted by light cruisers YURA and NATORI, DesDivs 5, 6, 11, 12 and 22.

Fifteen transports go to Merak, Java including ATLAS, AKITSU, KOYO, HOKOKUMEI (later NIKKEI), COLUMBIA, RYUNAN, MOMOYAMA, PACIFIC, KIZAN, REIYO, TSUYAMA, SYDNEY and SHINSHU MARUs. Seven transports go to Eretan Wetan. Seaplane tender SANYO MARU provides air cover. Departs Camrahn Bay.

1 March 1942:
Arrives at Merak, Java. Lands troops of the IJA’s 2nd Infantry Division.

9 March 1942:
Arrives at Bantam Bay.

13 March 1942:
Departs Bantam Bay.

16 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

16 April 1942:
At 1215, ATLAS MARU departs Singapore for Dairen, Manchuria in an unidentified convoy consisting of MYOKO, TSUYAMA, MOMOYAMA, FRANCE, HAVRE, HEIAN, RYUNAN, GLASGOW, TOKIWA and SANKO MARUs escorted by kaibokan SHIMUSHU, torpedo boats OTORI and HIYODORI, patrol PB-35 and auxiliary gunboat DAIGEN MARU No. 7.

The convoy is transporting the IJA’s 3rd Tank Corps. The escorts protect the convoy to latitude 16N where the convoy is escorted by unknown units of the IJN's North China Area Fleet.

19 April 1942:
The convoy is joined by CALCUTTA, SYDNEY and GENKAI MARUs transporting 422 men of the IJA 36th Airfield Battalion, 50 vehicles and airfield equipment from Bangkok.

24 April 1942:
At 1018, arrives at Hong Kong. CALCUTTA MARU and her two consorts are detached for Takao to refuel. At 1855, the remainder of the convoy departs.

1 May 1942:
Most of the original convoy from Singapore arrives at Dairen.

24 March 1943:
ATLAS MARU departs Palau for Rabaul, New Britain in a convoy also consisting of BENGAL HAMBURG, KIZAN, RAKUTO and TOYAMA MARUs and YOSHIDA MARU No.3 with unknown escort.

2 April 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

11 December 1943:
At 0900, ATLAS MARU departs Takao for Moji in convoy No. 226 also consisting of ENJU, OYO, HIDA, AMERICA, HANAGAWA and NEIKAI MARUs escorted by parol boat PB-36.

17 December 1943:
Convoy No. 226 arrives at Moji, less ENJU MARU detached at Okinawa due to engine trouble.

January 1944 :
Released by the IJA and returned to her owners.

1944:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Navy.

11 March 1944:
ATLAS MARU departs Takao for Manila, Luzon, Philippines in convoy TAMA-10 also consisting of tanker SAN PEDRO MARU and passenger/cargo ANSHU, MITO, KURAMASAN, SHINKYO MARUs and BANSHU MARU No. 32 escorted by auxiliary subchasers CHa-45, CHa-55, CHa-70, HINODE MARU and MISAGO MARU No. 2.

14 March 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

20 March 1944:
At 0630, ATLAS MARU departs Manila for Kau Bay, Halmahera Island, Moluccas in convoy H-22 also also consisting of KUNIKAWA, ANSHU, TOYOOKA, BENGAL, KURAMASAN and MITO MARUs, escorted by torpedo boat HAYABUSA and minesweeper W-30.

23 March 1944:
Zamboanga Sea. At about 1530, auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 12 joins the escort and W-30 is detached.

24 March 1944: At 1430, as planned KUNIKAWA MARU is detached from the convoy and proceeds independently to Balikpapan Bay, Borneo arriving later that day.

About 28 nms E of Cape Chinaka, SE Mindanao, Philippines. LtCdr (later Cdr) Walter T. Griffith’s (USNA’34) USS BOWFIN (SS-287) makes radar contact with the convoy. At 2348, Griffith’s first salvo scores two hits on BENGAL MARU at 05-38N, 125-58E. In addition to her 54 crewmen, the transport is carrying 262 soldiers, 150 Formosans attached to a military labor unit and 54 other passengers. BENGAL MARU sinks rapidly taking down with her 41 crewmen, four gunners and 161 passengers.

At 2353, Griffith torpedoes and hits SHINKYO MARU at 05-37N, 125-58E. Awash from stern to bridge, SHINKYO MARU sinks in three minutes taking down with her 12 crewmen and 49 passengers.

13 May 1944:
At 0355, the convoy's survivors depart Wasile Bay consisting of newly joined ATLAS MARU (and possibly YOZAN MARU), TEIKAI (ex German FULDA), MITSUKI, KAZUURA and BRAZIL MARUs escorted by minelayer SHIRATAKA, auxiliary netlayer KOREI MARU, subchaser CH-38 and patrol boat PB-104.

14 May 1944:
Arrives at Lembeh anchorage, Celebes.

20 May 1944:
The convoy arrives back at Manila at 2105.

28 May 1944:
ATLAS MARU departs Manila for Yulin in convoy MAYU-02 also consisting of five unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan HIRADO, minelayer SHIRATAKA and auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU.

1 June 1944:
Arrives at Yulin.

3 June 1944:
ATLAS MARU departs Yulin in convoy TE-06A also consisting of TATSUURA, TOYOOKA, MANKO, YAMADORI MARUs and five unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan HIRADO, minelayer SHIRATAKA, auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU and three unidentified warships.

13 June 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

26 July 1944:
ATLAS MARU departs Imari Bay in convoy MI-13 also consisting of cargo ships HIGANE, HIYORI, DURBAN, KIZAN, KOKUSEI, KUNIYAMA, URAL, SHIROTAE, CHINA, MATSUURA, RISSHUN and ATLAS MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and tankers SHINCHO, TEIKON, TOKUWA, KYOEI and ATAGO MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 2 escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA, CD-14, patrol boat PB-38, minesweeper W-18, auxiliary minesweeper TAKUNAN MARU No. 3, auxiliary gunboat CHOHAKUSAN MARU and auxiliary patrol boats EIFU, FUYO, KASUGA and NUNOBIKI MARUs.

31 July 1944:
The convoy arrives at Takao. SHIROTAE, CHINA and MATSUURA MARUs are detached and tankers SHIMPO and ZUIYO MARUs and cargo ship SHINKO MARU join the convoy. TAKUNAN MARU No. 3 and CHOHAKUSAN MARU are detached from the escort and replaced by destroyer ASAKAZE and kaibokan KUSAGAKI and YASHIRO. Naval Transport T. 3 also joins.

4 August 1944:
At 0830, ATLAS MARU departs Takao in convoy MI-13 also consisting of tankers ZUIYO, SHIMPO, SHINCHO, TEIKON (ex-German WINNETOU), TOKUWA, KYOEI and ATAGO MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 2, cargo ships SHINKO, HIYORI, DURBAN, KIZAN, KUNIYAMA, URAL, KOKUSEI, HIGANE, RISSHUN and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and Naval Transport T. 3 escorted by destroyer ASAKAZE, kaibokan KUSAGAKI, YASHIRO, MATSUWA and CD-14, minesweeper W-18, patrol boat PB-38 and auxiliary patrol boats EIFU, FUYO, KASUGA and NUNOBIKI MARUs.

7 August 1944:
At 2205, LtCdr (later Captain) Enrique D. Haskin's (USNA ’33) USS GUITARRO (SS-363) torpedoes and sinks kaibokan KUSAGAKI at 14-50N, 119-57E. 140 crewmen are KIA.

8 August 1944:
At 0900, the convoy arrives at Manila. ATLAS, DURBAN, KIZAN, RISSHUN, KUNIYAMA and SHINKO MARUs are detached.

21 August 1944:
ATLAS MARU departs Manila in convoy MAYU-07 also consisting two unidentified merchant ships escorted by patrol boat PB-104 and subchaser CH-21.

25 August 1944:
Arrives at Yulin.

28 August 1944:
At 0400, ATLAS MARU departs Yulin, Hainan Island in convoy YUTA-11 also consisting of MITSUKI, SAIHO, KOKKA and HOKOKU MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-104 and subchaser CH-21. ATLAS MARU carries a cargo of iron ore and phosphates.

2 September 1944:
Arrives at Keelung (Kirun), Formosa.

5 September 1944:
ATLAS MARU departs Keelung for Moji in convoy TAMO-25 also consisting of SAIHO, MITSUKI, KOKKA, HENGSHAN, MEIRYU, TATSUSHO and TATSUTAMA MARUs escorted by patrol boats PB-102 and PB-104 and subchaser CH-21. Shortly after leaving Keelung, KOKKA MARU runs aground. Later, she is refloated and returns to Kirun.

22 October 1944:
At 1220, ATLAS MARU departs Moji for Manila with in convoy MOMA-06 also consisting of DAIKEN, DAITOKU, GASSAN, KAKOGAWA, SHINSHO, SEKIHO, SEIWA, SHINFUKU and MIKAGE MARUs and an unidentified ship escorted by kaibokan CD-1, CD-3 and CD-7.

23 October 1944:
At about 0400, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) John E. Lee’s (USNA ’30) USS CROAKER (SS-246) torpedoes and damages GASSAN MARU. Later, she is towed to Saishu Island by SHINFUKU MARU where 3500 troops are put ashore.

24 October 1944:
At about 0400, CROAKER torpedoes and sinks MIKAGE MARU.

27 October 1944:
At 1600, arrives at Keelung.

30 October 1944:
At 0600, departs Keelung.

31 October 1944:
At 1952, arrives at Takao. The convoy is reorganized. Some ships from convoy MOTA-27 join MOMA-06. The reconstitued convoy consists of ATLAS, HAMBURG, SHIMOTSU, ASOKAWA, TOTTORI, EIWA, DAITOKU, SHINSHO, KAKOGAWA, SEKIHO and SEIWA MARUs escorted by destroyer KURETAKE, kaibokan CD-1, CD-3 and CD-7, mineweeper W-27, subchaser CH-41 and fleet supply ship KURASAKI.

1 November 1944:
At 1800, ATLAS MARU departs Takao for Manila in convoy MOMA-06 also consisting of ten other ships escorted by fleet supply ship KURASAKI, destroyer KURETAKE, kaibokan CD-1, CD-3 and CD-7, minesweeper W-27 and subchaser CH-41. ATLAS MARU is carrying carrying 1,325 troops, many from the 2nd Tank Division’s 2nd Battalion, 2nd Mobile Infantry and the 13th Shinyo Squadron with its 187 men and 50 Explosive Motor Boats (EMBs) and a deck cargo of the 13th Shinyo Squadon's 50 Type 1 explosive motor boats (EMBs) to defend Corregidor Island.

2 November 1944:
Off Sabtang Island, Bashii Strait, Philippines. At 2305, LtCdr John B. Hess’s (USNA ’37) USS POMFRET (SS-391) torpedoes and damages ATLAS MARU, Two crewmen and 79 members of the 13th Shinyo Squadron are KIA.

3 November 1944:
At 0435, Hess attacks ATLAS MARU again, but misses. At 0500, POMFRET also torpedoes and damages HAMBURG MARU. At 1850, one of the escorts scuttles her.

4 November 1944:
About 1330, ATLAS MARU is beached and her cargo begins to be unloaded. Salvage proceeds the next four days until a typhoon forces all efforts to be abandoned. The 13th Shinyo Squadron loses an unknown number of its EMBs and an unknown number of men.


Bob Hackett


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