(CANBERRA MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2013 Bob Hackett
Revision 2

E 1935:
Tama. Laid down at Mitsui Bussan Kaisha as a 6,477-ton passenger-cargo ship expressly for Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line's Australian trade.

Launched and named CANBERRA MARU.

30 May 1936:
Completed and handed over to OSK. During her trials, CANBERRA MARU attains a speed of 20.7 knots

5 June 1936:
Departs Yokohama on her maiden voyage to Australian ports.

August 1938:
Departs Brisbane, Australia for Yokohama carrying 16 passengers and a cargo of about 1,000 sheep.

7 August 1938:
CANBERRA MARU receives a cable request from the IJN to search for the Pan American Airways Martin M-130 trans-Pacific flying boat “Hawaii Clipper” missing since 29 Jul ’38. CANBERRA MARU races to Okinoshima and searches the area for two days unsuccessfully.

27 September 1940: - The Axis Tripartite Pact:
Berlin, Germany. The Tripartite Pact establishing the Axis Powers is signed by Adolf Hitler of Germany, Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano of Italy and Ambassador Saburo Kurusu of Japan. The parties formally recognize each other's spheres of interest and undertake "to assist one another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three contracting powers is attacked…"

29 December 1940:
Departs Yokohama. Among her passengers, CANBERRA MARU carries IJA Major Hasida Sei of the Imperial General Staff. He is on an intelligence gathering mission to assess Australia’s defensive capabilities.

13 January 1941:
Arrives at Brisbane.

15 January 1941:
Arrives at Sydney.

13 March 1941:
CANBERRA MARU arrives at Sydney Harbor carrying envoy Tatsuo Kawai. Earlier, in Brisbane, he calls for 'less diplomatic jargon and plainer, straight-from-the shoulder' talk. Kawai assures waiting reporters that the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy does not conflict with the maintenance of peaceful relations between Australia and Japan.

26 July 1941:
Hyde Park, New York. In retaliation for the Japanese occupation of Indochina, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an Executive Order that seizes all Japanese assets in the United States. American trade with Japan, including sales of oil and scrap metal ends. Britain, Australia and the Dutch East Indies follow suit. Japan looses access to most of its overseas trade and its imported oil.

30 July 1941:
CANBERRA MARU arrives at Sydney, Australia.

1 August 1941:
Departs Sydney with a cargo of 700 bales of wool and wheat from S Australia and flour from Victoria paid fo prior to the Government of Australia imposing a freeze on Japanese credit; however, 1,200 sheep, not yet paid for, are not shipped.

13 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a cargo ship (A-AK) and assigned IJA No. 682.

26 December 1941:
CANBERRA MARU lands troops at Perak, Malaya.

20 January 1942:
At 1600, CANBERRA and KANSAI MARUs depart Camranh Bay, Indochina in a convoy also consisting of nine unidentified troop transports escorted by DesDiv 11's FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI and SHIRAYUKI, DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI, AMAGIRI and YUGIRI and minesweepers W-1, W-3 and W-4.

The convoy is to unload ground forces at Singora, but CANBERRA and KANSAI MARUs are to proceed to Endau carrying troops of the 18th Division and personnel of the 96th Airfield Battalion assigned to make Kahang and Kluang airfields operational.

At 2120, a spontaneous accidental ignition occurrs in one of CANBERRA MARU´s holds. The crew succeeds in extinguishing the flames after 20 minutes. There is only slight damage to CANBERRA MARU.

22 January 1942:
At 1800, the convoy arrives at Singora.

24 January 1942:
At 2300, CANBERRA and IJA transport KANSAI MARUs depart Singora.

25 January 1942: Operation "R" - The Invasion of the Anambas Islands:
The Anambas Islands are to be used as an advanced naval base and probably a seaplane base for the Malaya and Dutch East Indies campaigns. At the same time, landings at Endau in the southern Malayan peninsula are to take place.

Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo's (38)(former CO of KONGO) invasion force consists of CANBERRA and KANSAI MARUs and IJN NOJIMA MARU escorted destroyers AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, YUGIRI and minesweepers W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4 W-5.

26 January 1942:
Arrives at Anambas Islands. The landings proceed without opposition.

At 1045, that same day, the main invasion convoy arrives off Endau and immediately starts unloading. At 1330, the first phase of unloading is accomplished.

27 January 1942: The Battle off Endau:
Singapore. LtCdr B. S. Davies' WW1 destroyer HMS THANET and LtCdr W. T. A. Moran's HMAS VAMPIRE are dispatched to make a night attack on the troop tansports at Endau, about 80 miles N of Singapore. At 0318, VAMPIRE sights destroyer SHIRAYUKI to port and launches two torpedoes at her, but they both miss. THANET launches all four of her torpedoes, but also misses. Both Allied destroyers open fire with their 4-inch guns. Light cruiser SENDAI and destroyer SHIRAYUKI return fire. The Allied destroyers retire to the SE at maximum speed.

At about 0400, THANET is hit in the engine and boiler rooms. Her speed falls off and an explosion wrecks the old destroyer. She goes dead in the water, lists heavily to starboard and begins to sink. VAMPIRE lays a smoke screen, but THANET is attacked by destroyers FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI, ASAGIRI, AMAGIRI, YUGIRI and minesweeper W-1. At 0415, HMS THANET sinks. VAMPIRE is undamaged and without casualties, but has no chance to pick up survivors. She makes for Singapore, arriving at 1000.

CANBERRA and KANSAI MARUs are damaged heavily in the action. Later, SHIRAYUKI picks up 31 survivors from HMS THANET. They are never seen again.

20 February 1942:
At 1600, CANBERRA MARU departs Camranh Bay in the 10th Malaya Reinforcement Convoy consisting of the 1st division's AOBASAN, NAKO, KYUSHU, SADO, KANSAI and the 2nd division's NAGARA, SAGAMI, SAKITO, SASAKO, HIROKAWA and CANBERRA MARUs. The convoy is escorted by light cruiser SENDAI and destroyers FUBUKI and SHIKINAMI.

22 February 1942:
At 1800, both divisions arrive at Singora.

29 September 1942: OKI Reinforcement of Rabaul:
CANBERRA MARU departs Saeki via Okinawa for Saipan, Marianas in convoy OKI Part 3 also consisting of Army transports TOEI and YAMAGIRI MARUs escorted by destroyers AKATSUKI and IKAZUCHI and minesweepers W-1 and W-3.

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

4 October 1942:
Arrives at Saipan. Departs soon after, probably with SHINSEI MARU No. 18.

6 October 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

8 October 1942:
Departs Truk.

13 November 1942: - The Naval Battles for Guadalcanal:
At 1730, CANBERRA MARU departs Shortlands for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, Solomons with ComDesRon 2’s Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (41) Reinforcement Group’s troop transports carrying 38th Army Division and Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops, equipment and provisions in BRISBANE, SHINANOGAWA, SADO, NAGARA, ARIZONA, NAKO, HIROKAWA, KINUGAWA, YAMAURA and YAMATSUKI MARUs escorted by Tanaka’s DesRon 2’s 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.

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 a reconnaissance Douglas "Dauntless" SBD dive-bomber from USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6). At 0908, the SDB attacks a transport, but is shot down by Japanese fighters.

Off Guadalcanal. At 1250, 18 Marine Corps SBD dive-bombers and seven USN Grumman "Avenger" TBF torpedo-bombers attack the convoy. Mitsubishi A6M "Zekes" shoot down some aircraft, but are engaged by Grumman F4F "Wildcat' fighters and cannot stop the attack.

CANBERRA and NAGARA MARUs are bombed and sunk. Destroyers AMAGIRI and MOCHIZUKI rescue 1,500 survivors of transports CANBERRA MARU and NAGARA MARU. The Americans also damage cargo ship SADO MARU that is detached with AMAGIRI and MOCHIZUKI to the Shortlands carrying MajGen Tanabe Suketomo, CO of the IJA’s 38th Division and other survivors. [1]

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

Thanks go to Gilbert Casse of France and Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

-Bob Hackett

Back to IJA Transports