RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(Sister DAIFUKU MARU No. 1, prewar)

BELGIUM MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2013 Bob Hackett


7 January 1920:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Shipyard Co., Ltd. as a 5,839-ton cargo ship for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd.

1 April 1920:
Launched and named BELGIUM MARU.

18 November 1920:
Completed. She can accommodate three 1st class passengers and carries a crew of 44.

May 1921:
Kawasaki Kisen joins together with Kawasaki Zosen and Kokusai Kisen to form the "K" Line.

1922:
Converted from coal-fired to oil-burning propulsion. Placed on the "K" Line's Japan ~ Australian service.

26 December 1924:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from Tocopilla, Chile.

1925:
Departs Kobe on Kawasaki-Roosevelt's westward around-the-world service.

9 December 1925:
NE of the Dominican Republic. BELGIUM MARU, en route from Calcutta to New York, runs aground at the enterance to Samana Bay.

12 December 1925:
Refloated by a salvage ship. Suffers no apparent damage.

1928:
Sold to Kokusai Kisen, K. K. and chartered to the Osaka Kaisha Shosen (OSK) Line of Kobe.

8 December 1941:
The Pacific War begins.

1942:
BELGIUM MARU carries non-military cargo to Cap St. Jacques, Indochina.

13 August 1943:
At 1240, BELGIUM MARU departs Mako (Bako), Pescadores for Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), Indochina, in convoy No. 315 consisting of NIKKO, SUEZ, TOSAN, BISAN, SUNGSHAN (SUZAN), CHINKO, RISSHUN, SEISHIN, CHILE, JAMBI, KOKKO and WALES MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.

15 August 1943:
At 0500, KOKKO and WALES MARUs are detached for Kirun (Keelung) and Hong Kong respectively.

21 August 1943:
At 1005, arrives at Cap St. Jacques, then proceeds up river to Saigon.

10 September 1943:
BELGIUM MARU departs Yulin for Mako in convoy No. 424 consisting of IJA tanker CHIYODA MARU, IJA transports TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG), KENSEI (ex-British HINSANG), CHINA, BIYO, JINZAN, FUKUJU, TOSEI and KAIKO MARUs and ANKO (ex-Chinese AN SHING) MARU escorted by patrol boat PB-2 and auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU.

14 September 1943:
At 0800, the convoy arrives at Mako less TEIRYU, TOSEI, ANKO and KAIKO MARUs detached earlier.

28 September 1943:
At 1615, BELGIUM MARU departs Mutsure for Takao in convoy No. 102 also consisting of TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG), CHIYODA, SUEZ, MISAKI, TAIAN, TEIFU (ex-French BOUGAINVILLE), HAVRE, FRANCE and YUBAE MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.

3 October 1943:
At 1925, arrives at Takao.

11 January 1944:
At 1500, BELGIUM MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 128 also consisting of KOTO MARU No.2 GO, KYODO MARU No. 36, SAN LUIS, CHIHAYA, JUYO, SHIKISAN, YOSHU, WAZAN and SEISHO MARUs escorted by destroyers ASAKAZE and SHIOKAZE.

16 January 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

23 January 1944:
BELGIUM MARU departs Takao in a combined sailing of convoy No. 354, also consisting of JUYO, YOSHU, SHIKISAN and WAZAN (ex British VITORLOCK) MARUs escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA, the "Y" convoy consisting of WAKA and ROKKO MARUs escorted by torpedo boat KARI and convoy TE-01 consisting of KINREI and TOYOKUNI MARUs and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE.

24 January 1944:
The "Y" convoy is detached for Hong Kong.

26 January 1944:
The TE-01 convoy is detached for Yulin.

March 1944:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport.

15 March 1944:
At 1200, BELGIUM MARU departs Takao for Moji in convoy TAMO-11 also consisting of cargo/transports ASAHISAN, KOAN, SHINNO, MUTSU, HINODE, MANILA, MANKO, ASAHI, KOTO, SORACHI, KOHO, TARUYASU, TAITO, KENWA, KENZUI, BRAZIL and KENNICHI MARUS and UNKAI MARU No. 12 and oilers TACHIBANA, NITTETSU MARUs SAN DIEGO, TAKETSU (BUTSU) and SANKO (YAMAKO) MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 1 escorted by destroyers SHIGURE and NOKAZE, minesweeper W-17 and subchasers CH- 37 and CH-38.

16 March 1944:
At 1600, TOYO and TEIKO MARUs join the convoy.

21 March 1944:
At 0430, MANKO, ASAHI, and TOYO MARUs are detached from the convoy. At 1200, the convoy arrives at Nagasaki.

22 March 1944:
ASAHISAN, KOAN MARUs and UNKAI MARU No. 12 are detached to Karatsu Wan (Bay), arriving at Moji the following day. The rest of the convoy arrives at Moji.

28 April 1944:
At 1300, BELGIUM MARU departs Takao for Manila in convoy TAMA-17 also consisting of NITTATSU, TAKEGAWA, WALES, PEKING, SHIROGANESAN, YAMAHAGI, YASHIMA, HAKKA (SHIRAKAWA), TSUSHIMA, SAN LUIS and NISSAN MARUs escorted by destroyer HARUKAZE, minesweeper W-17 and auxiliary gunboat CHOHAKUSAN MARU.

29 April 1944:
Destroyer ASAKAZE joins the escort. At 2155, LtCdr Anton R. Gallaher's (USNA ’33) USS BANG (SS-385) torpedoes and sinks TAKEGAWA MARU at 19-20N, 118-50E. Seven crewmen are KIA.

30 April 1944:
At 0430, Gallaher torpedoes and sinks NITTATSU MARU at 19-22N, 118-450. Four crewmen are KIA.

2 May 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

19 June 1944:
BELGIUM MARU departs Kau, Halmahera in an unknown "M" series convoy also consisting of KANKYO, MURORAN and YUKI MARUs escorted for several hundred miles by minesweeper W-5 before she returns to Kau.

22 June 1944:
W of Mindoro, Philippines. At 1930 (H), LtCdr (later KIA) John D. Crowley’s (USNA ’31) USS FLIER (SS-250) (later lost) sights five columns of smoke 15 miles distant At 2025, Crowley surfaces and FLIER begins an "end around" on the convoy's port side. The convoy is heading NNW. At 2323, FLIER fires six bow torpedoes at the convoy by radar: three at each of the two keading ships and calaims two hits on the first ship and one on the second. [1]

23 June 1944:
At 0023, 0040, FLIER fires four torpedoes and severely damages BELGIUM MARU at 13-11N, 120-27E. She begins to settle by the stern and is grounded. Later, she is towed to Manila.

16 September 1944:
Manila Harbor. Japanese authorities determine that it is impractical to attempt to repair and return BELGIUM MARU to operational service. Instead she is assigned to harbor defense and serves as a floating AA battery. Probably she is fitted with additional AA guns similar to those of a Rikugun Bokusen (auxiliary anti-aircraft transport).

19 October 1944:
Manila Harbor. Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) John S. McCain, Sr.’s (USNA ’06) Task Group 38.1 and Rear Admiral Ralph E. Davison’s TG 38.4 continue attacks begun the previous day. Carrier-based planes sink BELGIUM MARU and merchant cargo ships JOGU and TOSHIKAWA MARU at 14-35N, 120-55E.


Authors' Note:
Possibly, but unverified, the convoy was SHIMA-01 that departed Singapore for Manila on 13 Jun '44 consisting of SAN PEDRO, MEDAN and KOSAN MARUS and four unidentified ships escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU and CD-17 and probably other small warships.

Bob Hackett


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