RIKUGUN YUSOSEN/BYOINSEN

(BUENOS AIRES MARU, prewar)

BUENOS AIRES MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2012 Bob Hackett


15 October 1928:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding as a 9,627-ton passenger-cargo liner for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line.

11 May 1929:
Launched and named BUENOS AIRES MARU.

31 October 1929:
Completed. BUENOS AIRES MARU can accomodate two first class, 60 second class and 1,076 third class passengers.

30 November 1929:
BUENOS AIRES MARU departs her home port of Kobe on her maiden voyage to OSK's South American ports of call.

30 December 1929:
Arrives at Santos, Brazil on No. 134 Emigrant Voyage. [1]

6 April 1930:
Arrives Santos on No. 144 Emigrant Voyage.

May 1930:
Arrives Santos No. 154 Emigrant Voyage.

12 November 1930:
Arrives at Santos.

1931:
Departs Kobe on No. 162 Emigrant Voyage.

8 May 1931:
Arrives at Santos.

29 August 1931:
Departs Kobe on No. 169 Emigrant Voyage via Hong Kong, Saigon, Durban, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro

14 October 1931:
Arrives at Santos.

1932:
Departs Kobe on No. 174 Emigrant Voyage.

22 March 1932:
Arrives at Santos.

1932:
Departs Kobe on No. 182 Emigrant Voyage.

24 August 1932:
Arrives at Santos.

1933:
Departs Kobe on No.190 Emigrant Voyage.

3 February 1933:
Arrives at Santos.

1933:
Departs Kobe on No. 201 Emigrant Voyage.

2 August 1933:
Arrives at Santos.

1933:
Departs Kobe on No. 211 Emigrant Voyage.

7 January 1934:
Arrives at Santos.

1934:
Departs Kobe on No. 221 Emigrant Voyage.

2 June 1934:
Arrives at Santos.

1934:
Departs Kobe on No. 231 Emigrant Voyage.

31 October 1934:
Arrives at Santos.

1935:
Departs Kobe on No. 241 Emigrant Voyage.

30 March 1935:
Arrives at Santos.

1935:
Departs Kobe on No. 249 Emigrant Voyage.

31 August 1935:
Arrives at Santos.

1936:
Departs Kobe on No. 258 Emigrant Voyage.

2 July 1936:
Arrives at Santos.

16 October 1936:
Departs Kobe on No. 264 Emigrant Voyage via Hong Kong, Saigon, Durban, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro

28 November 1931:
Arrives at Santos.

1937:
Departs Kobe on No. 269 Emigrant Voyage.

25 April 1936:
Arrives at Santos.

1937-1938:
BUENOS AIRES MARU’s ports of call include Kobe, Yokkaichi, Yokohama, Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Durban, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo, Buenos Aires and return voyage to Yokohama and Kobe via Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Belem, Cristobal, Balboa, Los Angeles.

1939:
Continues service from Japanese ports to Los Angeles, Balboa, Cristobal, Curaçao, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo, Buenos Aires and return voyage to Japan via Rio Grande, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Belem, Cristobal, Balboa and Los Angeles.

1941:
Departs Kobe on No. 303 Emigrant Voyage.

12 March 1936:
Arrives at Santos.

26 June 1941:
Departs Kobe on No. 306 Emigrant Voyage, her last peacetime voyage.

July 1941:
In response to Japan’s occupation of French Indochina, the United States closes the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping.

12 August 1941:
Arrives at Santos.

September 1941:
Argentina. The Japanese consulate obtains copies of maps and charts of the Panama Canal from the Italian Minister in Panama. A courier takes the copies aboard BUENOS AIRES MARU via Cape Horn to Japan. Upon completion of No. 306 Emigrant Voyage, BUENOS AIRES MARU had carried 19 million passengers, including many immigrants to Brazil.

November 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop ship (A-APK).

1 November 1941:
Arrives at Ujina.

16 November 1941:
Arrives at Kure.

17 November 1941:
Departs Kure.

21 November 1941:
Arrives at Nanjing (Nanking), China and departs that same day.

22 November 1941:
Arrives at Shanghai.

23 November 1941:
Departs Shanghai.

26 November 1941:
Arrives at Ujina.

14 December 1941:
Departs Ujina.

19 December 1941:
Arrives at Kirun (Keelung), Formosa and departs that same day.

20 December 1941:
Arrives at Moji.

29 December 1941:
Arrives at Ujina.

31 December 1941:
Arrives at Dairen, (Dalian) Manchuria.

1 January 1942:
Departs Dairen.

3 January 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

7 January 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

9 January 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

11 January 1942:
Departs Dairen.

15 January 1942:
Arrives at Chinto.

16 January 1942:
Departs Chinto.

17 January 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

24 January 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

25 January 1942:
Arrives at Fusan (Pusan), Chosen (Korea).

26 January 1942:
Departs Fusan and departs. Later that day arrives at Dairen.

27 January 1942:
Departs Dairen.

30 January 1942:
Arrives at Moji and departs that day.

31 January 1942:
Arrives at Dairen and departs that day.

1 February 1942:
Arrives at Moji and departs that day.

2 February 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

3 February 1942:
Departs Dairen.

4 February 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

8 February 1942:
Arrives at Moji

10 February 1942:
Arrives at Fusan and departs that day.

11 February 1942:
Arrives at Chinto (Tsingtao), China and departs that day.

12 February 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

15 February 1942:
Departs Dairen.

19 February 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

22 February 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

25 February 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

26 February 1942:
Departs Dairen.

27 February 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

10 March 1942:
Departs Moji .

14 March 1942:
Arrives at Pusan and departs that day.

15 March 1942:
Arrives at Osaka.

22 March 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

23 March 1942:
Arrives at Dairen..

24 March 1942:
Departs Dairen.

26 March 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

22 April 1942:
Departs Moji.

26 April 1942:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

28 April 1942:
Departs Takao.

3 May 1942:
Arrives at Lingayen Gulf, Philippines.

5 May 1942:
Departs Lingayen Gulf.

7 May 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

9 May 1942:
Departs Takao.

20 May 1942:
Arrives at Singapore< Malaya.

21 May 1942:
Departs Singapore.

28 May 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

29 May 1942:
Departs Takao.

2 June 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

13 June 1942:
Departs Ujina and arrives at Sasebo.

15 June 1942:
Departs Sasebo

22 June 1942:
Arrives at Davao, Philippines.

23 June 1942:
Departs Davao.

27 June 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

2 July 1942:
Departs Manila in the "E" convoy also consisting of SHOHO, YAMAZUKI, YAMAZATO, ASAKASAN, HIROKAWA, SADO and SAGAMI MARUs escorted by destroyer MOCHITZUKI.

6 July 1942:
Arrives at Mako and departs that same day.

8 July 1942:
Arrives at Ujina and departs.

9 July 1942:
Arrives at Osaka.

21 July 1942:
Departs Moji.

25 July 1942:
Arrives at Takao and departs that same day.

2 August 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

3 August 1942:
Departs Manila.

6 August 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

9 August 1942:
Departs Takao.

12 August 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

18 August 1942:
Departs Manila.

20 August 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

21 August 1942:
Departs Takao.

22 August 1942:
Arrives at Kirun (Keelung) and departs that same day.

24 August 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

2 September 1942:
Departs Ujina.

4 September 1942:
Arrives at Dairen, Manchuria.

5 September 1942:
Departs Dairen.

7 September 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

16 September 1942:
Departs Ujina.

19 September 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

19 September 1942:
Departs Dairen.

21 September 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

26 September 1942:
Departs Ujina.

29 September 1942:
Arrives at Shanghai, China.

30 September 1942:
Departs Shanghai.

3 October 1942:
Arrives at Ujina. October-November 1942:
BUENOS AIRES MARU is converted to an IJA hospital ship Byoinsen (A-AH) and assigned IJA ship No. 8976.

14 November 1942:
Departs Ujina.

17 November 1942:
Arrives at Shanghai.

18 November 1942:
Embarks the IJA's 18th hospital group. Departs Shanghai without patients. .

21 November 1942:
Arrives at Ujina. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notifies the warring powers that BUENOS AIRES MARU is now a protected hospital ship.

23 November 1942:
Departs Ujina.

27 November 1942:
Arrives at Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, North China.

28 November 1942:
Embarks the 18th hospital group. Departs Qinhuangdao without patients.

1 December 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

2 December 1942:
Arrives at Osaka

5 December 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

7 December 1942:
Departs Ujina.

10 December 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

11 December 1942:
Departs Takao.

21 December 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

24 December 1942:
Departs Singapore.

29 December 1942:
Arrives at Hong Kong, China.

Departs Hong Kong.

7 January 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.

14 January 1943:
Departs Ujina.

18 January 1943:
Arrives at Keelung.

19 January 1943:
Departs Keelung.

28 January 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.

1 February 1943:
Departs Ujina.

6 February 1943:
Arrives at Hong Kong.

8 February 1943:
Departs Hong Kong.

9 February 1943:
Suffers an unknowm system breakdown. Returns to Hong Kong for repairs.

15 February 1943:
Departs Hong Kong.

21 February 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.

22 February 1943:
Departs Ujina.

26 February 1943:
Arrives at Kirun.

28 February 1943:
Departs Kirun

4 March 1943:
Arrives at Ujina and departs, then arrrives at Osaka and departs.

17 March 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

18 March 1943:
Departs Singapore.

24 March 1943:
Arrives at Hong Kong.

27 March 1943:
Departs Hong Kong.

2 April 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.

4 April 1943:
Departs Ujina.

14 April 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

16 April 1943:
Departs Singapore.

19 April 1943:
Arrives at Saigon, Indochina.

20 April 1943:
Departs Saigon.

23 April 1943:
Arrives at Hong Kong.

25 April 1943:
South China Sea. S of Hong Kong. At 1545, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Frank W. Fenno’s (USNA '25) USS RUNNER (SS-275) torpedoes and damages zigzagging BUENOS AIRES MARU at 22-14N, 114-47E. Seven men are wounded and her hull is damaged. [2][3]

26 April 1943:
Kowloon, Hong Kong. Undergoes temporary repairs at an unidentified shipyard.

6 May 1943:
Departs Hong Kong.

11 May 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.

17 June 1943:
Departs Moji:

20 June 1943:
Arrives at Kirun.

21 June 1943:
Departs Kirun.

3 June 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

17 June 1943:
Departs Moji .

20 June 1943:
Arrives at Kirun.

21 June 1943:
Departs Kirun.

23 June 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

18 July 1943:
Departs Ujina.

11 July 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

12 July 1943:
Departs Singapore.

16 July 1943:
Arrives at Saigon and departs that same day.

20 July 1943:
Arrives at Hong Kong.

21 July 1943:
Departs Hong Kong.

23 July 1943:
Arrives at Amoy, China.

25 July 1943:
Departs Amoy.

30 July 1943:
Arrives at Kirun.

1 August 1943:
Departs Kirun.

4 August 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

7 August 1943:
Departs Moji and arrives at Saeki.

August 1943:
Departs Saeki.

17 August 1943:
Bismarck Sea. Attacked by an unknown American aircraft at 01-14S-148-13E, possibly a USAAF B-25.

18 August 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul. BUENOS AIRES MARU is photographed painted white with a green stripe around her hull. She carries number 8976 near her bridge and displays large red crosses on the sides of her funnel and hull.

19 August 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

29 August 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

30 August 1943:
Departs Manila.

5 September 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

10 September 1943:
Departs Ujina.

20 September 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

11 October 1943:
Departs Rabaul

21 October 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.

15 November 1943:
Departs Ujina for Kobe.

22 November 1943: Arrives at Rabaul, New Britain.

26 November 1943:
Departs Rabaul for Palau in an unidentified convoy. BUENOS AIRES MARU carries 63 nurses and an unknown number of Japanese servicemen repatriating from Rabaul Naval hospital and 1,129 wounded and sick IJA soldiers. [3]

27 November 1943:
Steffen Strait between New Hanover and New Ireland, Bismarcks. At about 0830, a B-24 “Liberator” heavy bomber mistakenly bombs hospital ship BUENOS AIRES MARU. The bomb damages the hull and floods the engine room. BUENOS AIRES MARU takes on a list. At 0850, she sinks by the bow off Saint Matthias Island at 02-40S, 149-20E. The survivors take to 16 lifeboats and two motor launches. [4]

3 December 1943:
Unknown IJN subchasers rescue about 1,000 survivors, but 158 men and nurses aboard BUENOS AIRES MARU are killed in the sinking or die in the lifeboats. [5]

15 December 1943:
Japan’s foreign office dispatches message No. 467 to its major embassies that reports: "Japanese hospital ship BUENOS AIRES MARU was attacked by a United States aircraft, Consolidated B-24. Vessel was hit by a bomb on port side and sunk in about forty minutes." Survivors--wounded soldiers, doctors and a large contingent of nurses going home on leave--then crowded into eighteen lifeboats. The message goes on to report that although red sheets forming a red cross had been held aloft, an American plane, coming in at an altitude of only about three hundred feet, machine-gunned the lifeboats. The communique also reports that the attack on BUENOS AIRES MARU was not an isolated incident and says that ten other clearly marked hospital ships had been attacked by American aircraft. [6]


Author's Notes:
[1] Three quarters of all Japanese prewar immigrants to Brazil arrived between 1925 and 1935, while Japan was preparing for its military and territorial expansion in East Asia. In 1933, immigrants from Japan numbered 24,494 or 53.2 percent of all immigrants entering Brazil that year. In the late 1930s, the number of Japanese immigrants to Brazil sharply declined as Japanese emigration headed to Manchuria, China, and Korea.

[2] Article four of the Hague Convention X of 1907 and the 1929 Geneva Convention treaties stated that hospital ships were to display electrically powered lights to illuminate their red cross signs on the sides of the ship and upon the deck. Hospital ships were to be painted all white with a broad green stripe round the hull and red crosses painted on the sides to make them easily identified by the enemy. Vessels so protected were not to engage in warlike acts and violations can result in the loss of protected status and make the violating vessel a lawful military target.

[3] According to RUNNER’s patrol report, BUENOS AIRES MARU was escorted and zigzagging, both in contravention to international law established for hospital ships. Fenno reported the escort dropped at least one DC.

[4] The national and organizational identity of the B-24 is unclear. Several sources indicate it was a USAAF aircraft. One source claims it was from the 13th Air Force, but this has not been confirmed.

[5] One Japanese source says Korean comfort women (prostitutes) were aboard. Another Japanese source says several Japanese officers were being transported to Palau disguised as patients aboard BUENOS AIRES MARU.

[6] The B-24 attack on BUENOS AIRES MARU was either intentional or a mistake. Tragically, such attacks in wartime were perpetrated by many warring nations including Japan’s infamous and vengeful submarine attack on the conspicuously marked and fully lit Australian hospital ship CENTAUR in May 1943.

Thanks go to Gilbert Casse of France.

Bob Hackett


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