CEYLON MARU passing through a lock in the Panal Canal, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 Bob Hackett

21 October 1902:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosensho as a 5,068-ton cargo ship for Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line of Tokyo.

19 December 1903:
Launched and named CEYLON MARU.

8 February 1904: The Russo-Japanese War:
Port Arthur (Lushun), Manchuria. Three hours before Japan's declaration of war ias received by the Russian Government, Japan opens hostilities with a surprise attack on the main Russian fleet base at Port Arthur.

22 February 1904:
Completed. At 5.068 tons, CEYLON MARU is Japan's largest state-of-the-art cargo ship.

Chartered to the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop transport. During the Russo-Japanese War, CEYLON MARU transports about 30,000 people and 3,000 horses.

5 September 1905:
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine. The Treaty of Portsmouth is signed ending the Russo-Japanese War. Among other things, Russia recognizes Korea as part of the Japanese sphere of influence and agrees to evacuate Manchuria. Russia also signs over its 25-year leasehold rights to Port Arthur, including the naval base and the peninsula around it, and cedes the southern half of Sakhalin Island to Japan.

After the war, CEYLON MARU is released back to her owners and placed in NYK's service on their Japan ~ Calcutta, India route. NYK faces fierce economic competition with shipping companies in the United Kingdom. India is a a leading product development market for cotton hosiery made in Japan and industrial products such as glass, matches, watch exports, ceramics and umbrella material.

3 August 1914: World War I Begins:
Germany declares war on France and invades Belgium. Britain then declares war on Germany and Austria.

23 August 1914: World War I Begins:
Japan formally declares war on the German Empire.

Japan joins the armies of the Allies under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. CEYLON MARU is chartered and provides transportation to the United States. She also engages in f military transport missions in the Atlantic while U-boat German are rampaging that ocean.

27 November 1918:
Gironde River, France. CEYLON MARU is damaged in a collision with American steamship JEANETTE SKINNER.

June 1919:
Released back to her owners. Resumes NYK service.

Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from Japan via Calcutta, India.

17 May 1920:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from Algiers, Algeria.

17 June 1920:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from Japan via Calcutta, India and Algiers, Algeria.

The Toyo Kisen Line (TKK) merges with NYK.

1 April 1931:
CEYLON MARU is sold to Kinkai Yusen K.K., Tokyo.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge Incident ("First China Incident"):
Hun River, Lukuokiao, China. Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) troops on night maneuvers at the Marco Polo Bridge fire blank cartridges. Chinese troops across the river think they are under attack. They fire live rounds back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese have captured him. The Japanese demand entry to the Peiping (Beijing) suburb of Wanping to look for the soldier, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese then shell the city. An undeclared war on China begins.

30 July 1937:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a troop transport. Allotted IJA ship No. 112.

12 January 1938:
Released by the IJA back to her owners.

3 June 1938:
Re-requisitioned by the IJA.

12 December 1938:
Released back to her owners.

8 September 1939:
Repurchased by NYK.

21 July 1941:
Re-requisitioned by the IJA.

25 August 1941:
Released back to her owners.

3 October 1941:
Re-requisitioned by the IJA.

26 March 1942:
At 1300, CEYLON MARU departs Mutsure for Takao, Formosa and the Philippines in a convoy also consisting of GENZAN, TOSHO, TENSHO, YASUSHIMA, TOYO, TOBA, BOSTON and KANSAI MARUs escorted by destroyer WAKATAKE.

27 July 1942:
Released back to her owners.

13 January 1943:
CEYLON MARU departs Yokosuka in convoy No. 7113B also consisting of CHOYO, HINKO, KANSEISHI, KOGEN, SEINAN, SEIWA and TAMAHIME MARUs escorted by subchaser CH-14. The convoy heads down the coast of Honshu to the Inland Sea.

15 June 1943:
At 0650, CEYLON MARU departs Sasebo in convoy No. 166 also consisting of transports NORFOLK, SHOGEN, TAIAN and ISUZU MARUs and oilers CHIYODA, CHIHAYA, GOYO, HAKKO, KIYO, NICHIRIN and TACHIBANA MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.

18 June 1943:
At 1000, TAIAN MARU is detached for Kirun (Keelung), Formosa.

20 June 1943:
At 1400, arrives at Takao, Formosa.

6 September 1943:
At 0900, CEYLON MARU departs Mako in convoy No. 321 also consisting of AWA, ANYO, KOKUEI, SAN PEDRO, SYDNEY, YAMAZURU (YAMATSURU) MARU and tanker KOSHIN MARU and HINO MARU No. 1 escorted by torpedo boat HAYABUSA.

13 September 1943:
Arrives at Saigon, Indochina.

1 November 1943:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Navy (IJN) as a cargo ship (B-AK).

21 November 1943:
CEYLON MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy No. O-107 also consisting of, KAITO, KAIHO, MEXICO, TATSUGIKU, TATSUMATSU and SHOUN MARUs. escorted by torpedo SAGI, minesweeper W-22 and auxiliary minesweepers TAISEI MARU and TAMA MARU No. 6.

E 22 November 1943:
TAISEI MARU and TAMA MARU No. 6 are detached at latitude 28N.

E 24 November 1943:
W-22 is detached at at 20N.

E 5 December 1943:
Convoy No. O-107 arrives at Palau.

12 December 1943:
At 1200, CEYLON MARU departs Palau in convoy N-206 also consisting of ALASKA, KAIKA, KAITO, PACIFIC and RYUA MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-37 and CH-38.

19 December 1943:
At 1910, the convoy is attacked by PBY “Catalinas”, but they are driven off. At 2040, a second attack develops. KAITO MARU carrying troops and coal is hit set afire and sinks the following day at 04-35N, 151-21E. At 2132, in another attack PACIFIC and ALASKA MARUs are both hit. PACIFIC MARU is damaged, but ALASKA MARU has to be abandoned. The survivors are rescued by CH- 37.

20 December 1943:
ALASKA MARU sinks at 03-45N, 151-30E. At the time, the ship was loaded with 12,000 m3 of food rations, clothing, arms and general goods. One crewman is killed in the action. KAITO MARU also sinks at 04-35N, 151-21E. 262 troops and 26 crewmen are KIA.

20 December 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

8 January 1944:
CEYLON MARU departs Rabaul in convoy O-805 also consisting of KOYO, MEXICO, PACIFIC and NAGISAN MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-17 and CH-18.

15 January 1944:
At 1230, the convoy arrives at Palau. CEYLON MARU loads 4,000-tons of bauxite (aluminum ore).

9 February 1944:
CEYLON MARU departs Palau in convoy PATA-01 also consisting of eight unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer HARUKAZE and minesweepers W-17 and W-41.

16 February 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

23 February 1944:
At 0600, CEYLON MARU departs Takao in convoy TAMO-05 also consisting of CHIHAYA, FRANCE, NIPPO, PACIFIC SAN LUIS, SHUNTEN, MUTSUYO (BOKUYO) and ASO MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-38, auxiliary gunboat CHOJUSAN MARU, auxiliary subchaser TAMA MARU No. 7 and an unidentified warship.

CEYLON MARU is carrying 148 military passenger, 4,000-tons of bauxite and 300-tons of general cargo.

27 February 1944:
East China Sea. At 2058, LtCdr (later KIA) John A. Moore's (USNA ’32) USS GRAYBACK (SS-208)(later lost) uses her last two torpedoes on CEYLON MARU. Hit aft in the No. 3 hold, she floods and at 2103 sinks by the stern off Ojika Island, NE Kyushu at 31-35N, 127-47E. 95 troops and 46 crewmen are KIA.

30 April 1944:
Officially released back to her owners by the IJN.

Author's Note:
[1] GRAYBACK is later sunk by Nakajima B5N2 "Kates" of the Okinawa Naval Air Group.

Bob Hackett

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