RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(BRISBANE MARU, prewar)

IJA Transport BRISBANE MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 Bob Hackett
Revision 1


25 August 1929:
Yokohama. Laid down at Yokohama Dock Co. as a 5,425-ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line of Kobe.

28 February 1930:
Launched and named BRISBANE MARU.

28 May 1930:
Completed and placed on OSK's Yokohama ~ Melbourne, Australia route. She can accommodate six 1st class and six 3rd class passengers and carries a crew of 48 men.

June 1920:
BRISBANE MARU departs Yokohama for Melbourne on her maiden voyage.

1920 ~ 1936:
BRISBANE MARU remains on OSK's Yokohama ~ Melbourne route.

August 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Navy. She is painted in camouflage colors and fitted with AA guns.

14 November 1941:
Released by the IJN and requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport. Allotted Army No. 702. That same day, departs Ujina for Takao, Formosa (now Taiwan).

7 December 1941: The Invasion of the Philippines -ďMĒ Operation (M Sakusen):
At 1720, BRISBANE MARU departs Mako, Pescadores for Vigan, Philippines with transports OIGAWA, TAKAO, HAWAII, SHUNKO and SANKO MARUs and five sea trucks escorted by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Nishimura Shoji's (39) 2nd Raiding Force consisting of light cruiser NAKA (F), DesDiv 2's HARUSAME, MURASAME, YUDACHI and SAMIDARE, DesDiv 4'sASAGUMO, MINEGUMO and NATSUGUMO , MinesweepDiv 21ís minesweepers W-9, W-10, W-11 and W-12, MineSweepDiv 30ís W-17 and W-18 and SubChaserDiv 21ís subchasers CH-4, CH-5, CH-6, CH-16, CH-17 and CH-18 and SubChaserDiv 31ís CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12.

The six transports of the invasion fleet cariy 4,400 men led by Lt Col Kanno with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Formosa of the IJA's 48th Division and half of the regimentís 1st Battalion. OIGAWA MARU carrys the 2nd Airfield Maintenance Unit (created from the 18th Airfield Battalion deployed out of Manchuria. This unit had underwent three days of amphibious training at Takao and is tasked to support the 16th Light Bomb Regiment once the field is captured. TAKAO MARU also carries men of the 2nd Formosa. BRISBANE MARU carries 3,000 troops.

10 December 1941:
The invasion unit arrives off Vigan, N Luzon and begins to land troops. The full task organization includes a detachment of 2nd Formosa Infantry, 1st Battalion (less two companies), 3rd Battalion, one company of 48th Mountain Artillery Regiment, one company of 45th Field Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, two platoons of 48th Engineer Regiment, 2nd Airfield Maintenance Unit (temporarily formed from 18th Airfield Battalion, including one company of 46th Field Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion), one company of 10th Independent Engineer Regiment (Type E shipping engineers) and part of 2nd Shipping Artillery Regiment (defense personnel for the marus).

OIGAWA MARU is so badly damaged by American aircraft that she is beached by her captain.

6 June 1942: Japanese Operation "FS" (FS Sakusen) - The Planned Invasion of Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia:
At 1500, BRISBANE MARU departs Karatsu Bay, Kyushu for Palau in convoy FS also consisting of ARIZONA, MYOKO, OIGAWA, SANKO and YASUKAWA MARUs escorted by destroyer YUNAGI, minelayer HIRASHIMA, auxiliary minelayer KAHOKU MARU and patrol boat PB-36.

10 June 1942:
All escorts except YUNAGI are detached and return to Japan.

13 June 1942:
Arrives at Palau. It was planned that the convoy would proceed from Palau to Rabaul to participate in the invasion of New Caledonia in July, but the Coral Sea action and the disaster at Midway causes postponement, and later cancellation, of Operation "FS".

21 August 1942:
BRISBANE MARU departs Mutsure in convoy No. 153 consisting of AKASHI, TOYOOKA and OIGAWA MARUs and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer SANAE..

26 August 1942:
Arrives at Mako.

31 August 1942: Departs Mako in convoy No. 332 alsoconsisting of UMEKAWA, YAWATA MARUs and nine unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA.

7 September 1942:
BRISBANE MARU arrives at St Jacques and departs that same day in convoy No. 523 also consisting of TOYOOKA MARU escorted by destroyer ASAGAO.

10 September 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

2 October 1942:
BRISBANE, MARU arrives at Rabaul, New Britain in an unidentified convoy probably also consisting of ARIZONA, CANBERRA, KINUGAWA, NAKA, SHINANOGAWA, YAMAURA and YAMAZUKI MARUs and several unidentified ships with an unknown escort.

31 October 1942:
At 0327, BRISBANE MARU departs Rabaul escorted by minesweeper W-22.

2 November 1942:
At 0950, arrives at Shortlands, Bougainville.

13 November 1942: - Second Assault Convoy for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, British Solomons:
At 1730, BRISBANE MARU departs Shortlands for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, Solomons with ComDesRon 2ís Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's Reinforcement Groupís troop transports carrying the 38th Army Division and Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops, equipment and provisions in ARIZONA, SHINANOGAWA, SADO, NAGARA, CANBERRA, NAKO, HIROKAWA, KINUGAWA, YAMAURA and YAMATSUKI MARUs escorted by Tanakaís DesRon 2ís HAYASHIO, AMAGIRI, KAGERO, KAWAKAZE, MAKINAMI, MOCHIZUKI, NAGANAMI, OYASHIO, SUZUKAZE, TAKANAMI and UMIKAZE. Air cover is provided by the 11th Air Fleet and the R-Area Air Force's floatplane fighters.

The units carried by the Reinforcement Unit include the 229th Infantry Regiment's HQ and 1st Battalion, 230th Infantry Regimentís 2nd Battalion, 38th Division Engineer Regiment, 38th Transport Regiment, 38th Medical Unit, part of the 2nd Division (Medical Unit, three Field Hospitals), 19th Independent Engineer Regiment, 52nd and 80th Independent Radio Platoons, 3rd Field Transport Command, 212th Independent Automobile Company, 52nd Independent Transport Company, 17th Water Supply and Purification Department and 17th Army HQ personnel.

14 November 1942:
At 0849, as Tanaka's Reinforcement Group proceeds down the "Slot" between the New Georgia and Santa Isabel Islands, the 23-ship convoy is sighted by two reconnaissance Douglas "Dauntless" SBD dive-bombers from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6). At 0908, the SDBs each attack a transport, but miss. One SBD is shot down by Japanese fighters.

N of Guadalcanal. At 1250, 18 Marine Corps SBD dive-bombers and seven USN Grumman "Avenger" TBF torpedo-bombers of VT-10 attack the convoy. Mitsubishi A6Ms shoot down some aircraft, but are engaged by Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighters and cannot stop the attack. NAGARA MARU is torpedoed and CANBERRA MARUs is bombed and sunk. The Americans also damage cargo ship SADO MARU that is detached to Shortlands with AMAGIRI and MOCHIZUKI carrying among other survivors, MajGen Tanabe Suketomo, CO of the IJAís 38th Division and other survivors.

At about 1430, SBD dive-bombers from ENTERPRISE and USMC SBDs of the "Cactus Air Force" at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal make another attack and set BRISBANE MARU ablaze until she later sinks by the stern at 08-58S, 159-06E Destroyer KAWAKAZE rescues 550 survivors.


Author's Note:
[1] The Japanese lose about 450 men KIA in the 13 Nov '42 action, although troop losses and other casualties for individual ships are unknown. Altogether, the destroyers rescue more than 4,700 men.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett


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