KAIBOKAN!

(Type C Escort by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

IJN Escort CD-31:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2007-2012 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 1


3 March 1944:
Tsurumi. Laid down at Nippon Kokan K.K.'s shipyard.

4 July 1944:
Launched and numbered CD-31.

21 August 1944:
Completed and commissioned in the IJN. Assigned to the 31st Escort Squadron, Combined Fleet. LtCdr Kubo Takeshi is the Commanding Officer.

20 October 1944: Operation SHO-I-GO ("Victory") – The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
CD-31 departs Yashima anchorage with kaibokan CD-22, CD-29, CD-33, CD-43 and CD-132 escorting oilers TAKANE and JINEI MARUs of Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's (37) (former CO of HARUNA) Northern "decoy" Mobile Force’s Second Supply Force. The Supply Force supports Ozawa's CarDiv 3's ZUIKAKU, ZUIHO, CHITOSE and CHIYODA and CarDiv 4's hybrid HYUGA and ISE.

21 October 1944:
TAKANE MARU and two (unidentified) of the six kaibokan depart Tokuyama Fuel Depot for Koniya, Kakaroma-Jima, Ryukyus.

22 October 1944:
Ozawa's force refuels at sea. Sound contact is made with a submarine. At 2010, ZUIKAKU and light cruiser TAMA spot torpedo tracks and make a sharp turn to port. Ozawa is forced to cancel the refueling after receiving only one third of the required amount.

25 October 1944: The Battle off Cape Engano:
Ozawa's force is attacked by planes from Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc Mitscher's (USNA ’10) Task Force 38’s ENTERPRISE (CV-6), ESSEX (CV-9), INTREPID (CV-11), FRANKLIN (CV-13), LEXINGTON (CV-16), INDEPENDENCE (CVL-22), BELLEAU WOOD (CVL-24), LANGLEY (CVL-27), CABOT (CVL-28) and SAN JACINTO (CVL-30).

TF 38 launches 527 sorties in five strikes against Ozawa’s Northern Force. During the day's action, carriers ZUIKAKU (Captain [Vice Admiral posthumously] Kaizuka Takeo (46), forty-eight officers and 794 petty officers and men lost), ZUIHO (six officers and 208 sailors lost) and CHITOSE (Captain [Rear Admiral posthumously] Kishi Yoshiyuki (47) and 903 officers and men KIA) and destroyer AKIZUKI (183 sailors KIA) are sunk.

That same day, S of Yaku Jima, LtCdr Orme C. Robbins’ (USNA ’34) USS STERLET (SS-392) torpedoes and sinks oiler JINEI MARU at 30-15N, 129-45E. 69 crewmen are KIA. Destroyer AKIKAZE helps rescue JINEI MARU's survivors and takes them to Mako, Pescadore Islands.

6 November 1944:
At 1800, CD-31 departs Takao for Singapore with kaibokan CD-43 escorting convoy HI-79A consisting of tanker FUJISAN MARU and two unidentified merchant ships.

13 November 1944:
Arrives at Singapore.

18 November 1944:
At 0645, CD-31 departs Singapore for Manila with kaibokan KURAHASHI, CD-32 and subchaser CH-56 escorting convoy SHIMA-05 consisting of MANILA, KENEI and TASMANIA MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 5 and tanker AYANAMI MARU.

20 November 1944:
CD-31 is reassigned to the Fifth Fleet.

24 November 1944:
The convoy arrives at Miri, Borneo and departs at 1710. KENEI MARU is detached and remains behind at Miri.

25 November 1944:
At 0535, LtCdr John R. Madison's (USNA ’37) USS MINGO (SS-261) torpedoes MANILA MARU and gets three hits. Loaded with ammunition and gasoline, MANILA MARU explodes and sinks in four minutes at 05-42N, 113-15E. Captain Uike Matsuichi, 96 crewmen, 51 gunners and four passengers die in the sinking. Also lost are cargo of gasoline and 10 Daihatsu barges. The escorts do not counter-attack.

26 November 1944:
At 1800, CD-31 departs Takao for Singapore with kaibokan CD-43 escorting convoy HI-79A consisting of three unidentified merchant ships.

29 November 1944:
The remainder of SHIMA-05 arrives at Manila.

9 December 1944:
At 1731, CD-31 departs Takao with CD-13 escorting convoy TAMO-31 consisting of transport SANUKI MARU and oiler NICHINAN MARU.

15 December 1944:
At 1640, anchors at Kyokin To, Chosen (Korea) coast.

16 December 1944:
At 0545, departs Kyokin To. At 1905, anchors at Karatsu Bay.

17 December 1944:
At 1335, arrives at Moji.

14 January 1945:
At 0700, CD-31 departs Moji with kaibokan MANJU, CD-132, CD-144, destroyer SHIOKAZE and subchasers CH-19 and CH-57 escorting convoy MOTA-32 consisting of DAIKYO, TENSHO, SAMARANG, AIZAN, SHUNSHO, MASASHIMA and DAISHUN MARUs, TAMON MARU No. 16 and four unidentified merchants, possibly including TETSUYO and TATSUHARU MARUs. The convoy hugs the continental coast as it heads south.

21 January 1945:
Arrives at Sanmen Bay.

22 January 1945:
Early in the morning, convoy MOTA-32 departs Sanmen Bay, China. At 1600, arrives at Namkwan (now Namquan) Bay and joins convoy TAMO-38 sheltering there consisting of DAINAN, BINGO, TOYOKAWA, RASHIN, SHINNO and TATSUWA MARUs and NICHIYU MARU No. 7. MOTA-32 anchors in five columns nearest the bay entrance.

23 January 1945:
At 0402, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) (USNA ’35) Eugene B. Fluckey's USS BARB (SS-220) discovers the anchored ships and skillfully enters the bay. At 0402, Fluckey fires a full salvo of torpedoes. DAIKYO MARU carrying ammunition spectacularly explodes and sinks. 360 out of 556 troops, 28 Gunners and 59 of the crewmen are killed. Minor damage, probably from falling debris, is also inflicted on SAMARANG, AIZAN, DAISHUN and SHUNSHO MARUs and TAMON MARU No. 16. [1]

At 0600, the remainder of the convoy departs the anchorage.

25 January 1945:
Arrives at Keelung.

31 January 1945:
At 0600, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) David B. Bell's (USNA ’37) USS PARGO (SS-264) torpedoes and damages MANJU's bow at 11-15N, 109-12E.

2 February 1945:
MANJU arrives at Saigon, probably towed by CD-31.

4 February 1945:
CD-31 departs Singapore for Moji with kaibokan CD-13 and YAKU escorting convoy HI-88-D consisting of ENGEN, DAIGYO and HARUYASU MARUs (ex Dutch VAN DER HAGEN).

5 February 1945:
A surfaced enemy submarine is sighted at 04-55N, 103-40E. At 0830, the convoy changes course.

6 February 1945:
At 0230, YAKU's lookouts sight a surfaced submarine and the convoy successfully evades. At 2157, Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Frank W. Fenno's (USNA ’25) USS PAMPANITO (SS-383) fires six torpedoes and sinks ENGEN MARU loaded with fuel oil, crude rubber, copper, tungsten, antimony and zircon, at 06-31N, 106-12E. Six passengers, seven military escorts, 29 crewmen and another two men are killed – a total of 44 dead. DAIGYO MARU drops a few depth charges while YAKU searches unsuccessfully for the submarine. CD-31 rescues survivors and returns to Singapore.

7 February 1945:
At 0454, LtCdr Ralph H. Lockwood's (USNA ’38) USS GUAVINA (SS-362) torpedoes and sinks DAIGYO MARU carrying heavy oil, tin and rubber, at 06-54N 106-08E. Three escorting troops, and five crewmen are killed. At about 0800, YASHIRO finds and rescues the survivors of DAIGYO MARU.

8 February 1945:
Arrives at Saigon and the convoy is dissolved.

14 February 1945:
At 0800, CD-31 departs Singapore for Moji with subchasers CH-20, CH-34 and CH-35 escorting convoy HI-88-G consisting of YAEI (IYASAKA) MARU No. 1, TAKASAGO MARU No. 2 and NANSHIN MARU No. 30.

21 February 1945:
At 0900, arrives at St Jacques, Indochina. NANSHIN MARU No. 30 is detached and probably CH-34.

23 February 1945:
Off Cape Padaran, Indochina. Fifth Air Force B-25 "Mitchell" medium-bombers of the 345th Bomb Group's 500th Bomb Squadron attack convoy HI-88-G. The B-25's come under attack by covering IJA and IJN fighters, including a "Rufe" float fighter. At 1714, the B-25's strafe, bomb and sink CH-35 and damage CH-20 and small oiler NANSHIN MARU No. 30 at 10-15N, 107-31E. One of the B-25's is shot down by a subchaser.

25 February 1945:
Convoy HI-88-G arrives at Tourane, Indochina and merges with convoy HI-88-H. The convoy now consists of HONAN MARU and oilers EISHO MARU, YAEI MARU No. 1 and TAKASAGO MARU No. 2 escorted by CD-31, CD-13 and subchasers CH-20, and CH-57.

27 February 1945:
At 0800, departs Tourane.

28 February 1945:
At 1600, arrives at Yulin, Hainan Island, China.

1 March 1945:
At 1100, departs Yulin. At 2300, the convoy is attacked by a single large bomber. At 2314, EISHO MARU, carrying 99 passengers and petroleum, is bombed and sunk at 18-32N, 108-16E. Seven crewmen and 29 passengers perish.

2 March 1945:
Arrives at Linkao Bay, Hainan Island.

3 March 1945:
At 0115, while still in Linkao Bay preparing to leave, three aircraft attack. YAEI MARU No. 1 is bombed and sunk at 20-10N, 109-31E. Seven Passengers, one military escort and 12 crewmen are killed.

17 March 1945:
At 0300, arrives at Moji.

11 April 1945:
At 0700, CD-31 departs Moji for Shanghai, China with kaibokan MIYAKE, NOMI (F) and CD-213 escorting convoy MOSHI-02 consisting of JUZAN MARU.

13 April 1945:
At 1400, arrives at Saishu Island and anchors, planning to depart at daybreak the next day.

14 April 1945:
Hiyo islet on NW coast of Saishu Island. At 0407, in murky weather, Cdr (later Captain/MOH) George L. Street III’s (USNA ’37) USS TIRANTE (SS-420) closes the bay on the surface, noses into Saishu harbor and fires six torpedoes at the anchored convoy. Street sinks JUZAN MARU at 33-25N, 126-15E with 33 crewmen KIA, but USS TIRANTE is sighted by flagship NOMI's lookouts.

Captain Ikeda Akira's (50) (former CO of ETOROFU), CO of the First Surface Escort Division, orders an attack. USS TIRANTE fires two torpedoes at the charging kaibokan. Both hit NOMI under the bridge detonating her shell magazine. She jack-knifes, breaks in two and sinks at 0430. Captain Ikeda is KIA. He is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously.

CD-31 spots the submarine and attacks, but is hit by a stern torpedo from USS TIRANTE. The torpedo is a dud, but causes a fire to break out in the kaibokan's aft magazine. Later, CD-31 capsizes and sinks at 33-25N, 126-5E. Thirty-nine of her complement of 160 are lost. After 0900, the islanders rescue CD-31 and NOMI's survivors

15 April 1945:
At 1358, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from the CO of CD-31 that reads: “Action summary: Anchored at Hiyo ---- Anchorage on the 13th. (The next morning ?) at 0405 JUZAN MARU was hit amidships by torpedo ----. At 0410, NOMI was hit (near bridge ?) by torpedo and sank about 20 minutes later. At 0411 CD-31 was hit in the stern and though it worked to put out fires and pump the ship, it sank at 0500. MIYAKE was patrolling at the mouth of the bay and reached the scene after the above danger [sic] was incurred and make [sic] sweeps ----."

At 1712, codebreakers decrypt a message from kaibokan AWAKUNI that reads: “------(three CDs by name)---- arrive Hiyoshima. Survivors as follows: NOMI – 6 Warrants and above. 81 enlisted. CD-31: 10 Warrants and above. 156 enlisted. JUZAN MARU: 180 enlisted. 4 crew members. Total 417 men. ------.”

16 April 1945:
At 0002, the codebreakers decrypt another message from AWAKUNI that reads: “Damage sustained by MOSHI Convoy. 2. The central part of the NOMI below the bridge split and it sank. Of the entire vessel, only two meters are above water -----. 3. CD-31 took a torpedo in the stern and sank on account of flooding. The forward part of the ship is three meters above the water and the after mast -----. Position of the sinking bearing 103 degrees distant ---- from summit of Nameihitobuyo Island.”

25 May 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.


Authors' Note:
[1] Exactly why so few of USS BARB's torpedoes failed to hit such a perfect overlapping target remains a mystery. Rumors of more ships sunk persist, but they are not supported by facts.

Thanks go to John Whitman of the USA for info on CNO intercepts of Japanese messages and to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France.

-Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall


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