(CHINA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2016 Bob Hackett

4 December 1919:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Dockyard Company, Ltd. as Yard No. 495, a 5,870-ton passenger-cargo ship for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), K. K.

16 February 1920:
Launched and named CHINA MARU.

8 April 1920:
Completed and placed on K Line’s service.

10 February 1926:
Departs Yokohama for Australia.

10 July 1932:
SE of Hong Kong. CHINA MARU runs aground near Puratasu island en route from Dairen, Manchuria to Saigon, French Indochina, but is successfully reloated and repaired.

26 June 1939:
130 miles NE of Rabaul, New Britain. CHINA MARU runs aground off Balum Island, Feni Islands, Papua New Guinea (Indonesia) en route from Yokohama to Sydney, Australia via Brisbane.

30 June 1939:
Steamer MAKO carrying a diver and salvage gear arrives from Rabaul to assist CHINA MARU. Later, she is refloated, temporary repairs effected and she departs for Rabaul.

21 February 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Allotted IJA No. 940.

31 July 1941:
CHINA MARU arrives at Sydney, Australia.

3 August 1941:
Sydney Heads, Australia. CHINA MARU briefly stops and puts on two Australian carpenters and an injured Japanese sea man, and then departs for Japan without coming into port to load cargo.

5 August 1941:
Tokyo. The Japanese government announces that all Japanese ships have been suspended from sailing to the United States indefinitely. Because of the crisis in the Pacific, it is believed in shipping circles that Japan has also cancelled sailings of their ships to Australia.

10 December 1941: Operation "G" (G Sakusen) - The Seizure of Guam:
Rear Admiral Kasuga Atsushi's (37)(former CO of CHOKAI) 5th Base Force's Invasion Force consisting of transports CHINA, CHERIBON, CLYDE, DAIFUKU, KOGYOKU, MATSUE, MOJI, NICHIMEI, VENICE and YOKOHAMA MARUs land MajGen Horii Tomitaro’s 55th Infantry Corps 55th Division’s Headquarters, 3d Company, 55th Cavalry, 55th Division plus an anti-tank platoon, 144th Infantry Regiment of 2,673 men, 144th Infantry Artillery Unit, 1st Battalion, 55th Mountain Artillery Regiment with twelve 75mm mountain guns, 1st Company, 55th Engineer Regiment’s 3rd Company (less one platoon) and 10th Independent Engineer Regiment.

The Invasion Force is covered by minelayer TSUGARU (F), destroyer OBORO, DesDiv 23, GunbtDiv 7, SubChasDivs 59 and 60 and MineDiv 15 and auxiliary seaplane tender KIYOKAWA MARU. The Invasion Force also lands naval units of the 5th Defense Unit Detachment 15th Naval Base Headquarters and 15th Communications Unit. At 0400, the Japanese land about 400 troops at Dungcas Beach, N of Agana. MajGen Horii Tomitaro’s IJA South Seas Detachment of about 5,500 men also lands at Tumon Bay and at Talafofo Bay. At 0600, after token resistance by Guam's few United States Marine Corps defenders and local constabulary, the United States Governor officially surrenders Guam.

14 January 1942:
At 1330, CHINA MARU departs Apra Harbor, Guam for Rabaul, New Britain in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Shima Kiyohide's (former CO of OI) Invasion Fleet also consisting of CHERIBON, CLYDE, TAIFUKU, MITO, HIBI, MOJI, VENICE and YOKOHAMA MARUs carrying 5,300 men.

17 January 1942:
Near Lamotrek Island. Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's (39)(former CO of KISO) light cruiser YUBARI, seaplane tender KIYOKAWA MARU and four destroyers join MineDiv 19’s minelayers OKINOSHIMA and TSUGARU and two destroyers escorting the Invasion Fleet

That same day, Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Nagumo Chuichi’s (36)(former CO of KIRISHIMA) Carrier Striking Force departs Truk consisting of CarDiv 1’s AKAGI and KAGA, CruDiv 5’s SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU, BatDiv 3/1 HIEI and KIRISHIMA, CruDiv 8’s TONE and CHIKUMA and DesRon 1’s light cruiser ABUKUMA with DesDiv 17's ISOKAZE, URAKAZE, TANIKAZE, HAMAKAZE, DesDiv 18's ARARE, KASUMI, KAGERO, SHIRANUHI and unattached AKIGUMO.

20 January 1942: - Operation "R" (R Sakusen) - The Invasions of Rabaul and Kavieng:
N of New Ireland. CarDiv 1 and CarDiv 5 launch 100 bombers and fighters to attack Rabaul, New Britain and Kavieng, New Ireland. KAGA loses one dive-bomber. That evening, CarDiv 5 is detached with cruiser CHIKUMA and destroyers AKIGUMO, KASUMI, KAGERO and SHIRANUHI and moves to a position in the Bismarck Sea.

23 January 1942:
CHINA MARU departs Truk for Rabaul attached to the invasion fleet also consisting of CHERIBON, CLYDE, HIBI, MEITEN MITO, MOJI, TAIFUKU, VENICE and YOKOHAMA MARUs with auxiliary netlayer SHUKO MARU and escorted by auxiliary subchasers KYO MARU No. 8 and KYO MARU No. 10.

25 February 1942: Operation “SR” – The Invasion of Lae and Salamuana, New Guinea:
CHINA MARU arrives at Rabaul. Loads troops for landings at Salamaua, New Guinea. The convoy also consists of YOKOHAMA MARU bound for Salamaua and auxiliary minelayer TENYO MARU and transports KONGO and KOKAI MARUs bound for Lae.

5 March 1942:
Departs Rabaul. The transports are escorted by CruDiv 6's AOBA, FURUTAKA, KINUGASA and KAKO, CruDiv 18's TENRYU and TATSUTA and KIYOKAWA MARU, DesRon 6's light cruiser YUBARI and destroyers ASANAGI, MOCHIZUKI, MUTSUKI, OITE, YAYOI and YUNAGI, Armed Merchant Cruiser KINRYU MARU and minelayers OKINOSHIMA and TSUGARU,

8 March 1942:
Arrives at Lae-Salamaua. The invasion force unloads troops and cargo.

10 March 1942:
Off Lae, CHINA MARU is damaged by SBD dive-bombers from carriers from YORKTOWN (CV-5) and LEXINGTON (CV-2) .

4 May 1942: Operation “MO” – The Invasions of Tulagi and Port Moresby:
At 1600, Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's (39) (former CO of KISO) Port Moresby Attack Force departs Rabaul towards the Jomard Pass in the Louisiade Archipelago with DesRon 6’s light cruiser YUBARI, DesDiv 29’s OITE, ASANAGI, DesDiv 30’s MUTSUKI, MOCHIZUKI and YAYOI escorting Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Abe Koso's (40) (former CO of HIEI) Transport Force consisting of CHINA, ASAKASAN, DAIFUKU, HIBI, MATSUE and MITO, MARUs, IJN AKIBASAN, CHOWA, GOYO, MOGAMIGAWA and SHOKA MARUs, tanker HOYO MARU, fleet oiler IRO (at anchor at Shortland area with destroyer UZUKI), minelayer TSUGARU, minesweeper W-20, auxiliary minesweepers HAGOROMO MARU, NOSHIRO MARU No. 2 and FUMI MARU No. 2 and fleet salvage and repair tug OJIMA (OSHIMA).

The Transport Force is carrying the bulk of the 3rd Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), the 10th Naval Construction Unit and the South Seas Detachment consisting of the 144th Infantry Regiment.

4 May 1942: The Battle of the Coral Sea:
Tulagi, Solomons. Rear Admiral (MOH '14/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher’s (USNA ’06) (former CO of VERMONT, BB-20) Task Force 17 attacks Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Shima Kiyohide’s (39) (former CO of OI) Tulagi Invasion Force. SBD dive-bombers and TBD torpedo-bombers from USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) sink a destroyer, three minesweepers and damage four other ships.

5 May 1942:
Fletcher's force turns north to engage Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo’s (39) (former CO of MUTSU) Carrier Strike Force's SHOKAKU and ZUIKAKU. SBDs and TBDs from YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON (CV-2) sink Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Goto Aritomo’s (38) (former CO of MUTSU) light carrier SHOHO off Misima Island. In turn, Japanese planes damage oiler NEOSHO (AO-23) and sink destroyer SIMS (DD-409).

8 May 1942:
Planes from LEXINGTON sight Takagi's Strike Force. SBDs from YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON damage SHOKAKU and force her retirement. ZUIKAKU’s air group suffers heavy losses. Takagi's bombers and attack planes strike Task Force 17 and damage YORKTOWN and LEXINGTON. Gasoline vapors ignite, triggering massive explosions that cause LEXINGTON to be abandoned. Later, she is scuttled by destroyer PHELPS (DD-360).

9 May 1942:
CHINA MARU arrives back at Rabaul after the Transport Force receives an order to reverse course.

13 May 1942:
The Battle of the Coral Sea halts the Japanese thrust toward Port Moresby and they are forced to cancel Operation MO.

31 July 1942:
Released back to her owners.

August 1943:
Re-requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) as an Army/Civilian (A/C) shared employment Haitosen. Assigned IJA No. 5052.

7 September 1943:
At 1400, CHINA MARU departs Saigon for Mako, Pescadore Islands convoy No. 424 consisting of IJA transports ANKO (ex-Chinese AN SHING) MARU, BELGIUM, BIYO, FUKUJU, JINZAN, KAIKO, KENSEI (ex-British HINSANG), TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG) and TOSEI MARUs and IJA tanker CHIYODA MARU escorted by patrol boat PB-2 and auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU. At 1325, CHIYODA MARU develops engine trouble and lags behind.

10 September 1943:
CHINA MARU departs Yulin, Hainan Island for Mako in convoy No. 424.

14 September 1943:
At 0800, the convoy arrives at Mako less ANKO, KAIKO TEIRYU and TOSEI MARUs detached earlier.

19 September 1943:
At 0950, CHINA MARU departs Mako for Moji in convoy No. 205 also consisting of DENMARK, FUKUJU, HOKUAN, KYOKKO, NICHIEI, SEIZAN, and TEIKO MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-2 and auxiliary TOYO MARU No. 3.

20 September 1943:
The convoy is joined by GINREI, JINZAN, KENZUI, MIYO, TATSUHA and TOSEI MARUs.

24 September 1943:
At 1600, the convoy arrives at Moji less HOKUAN MARU that was detached earlier.

7 February 1944:
CHINA MARU departs Kirun in convoy TAMO-01B also consisting of KINREI, OMINE and TEIKA (ex-Vichy French CAP VARELLA) MARUs and five unidentified ships escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE and minelayer NIIZAKI.

14 February 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

7 May 1944:
At 1900, CHINA MARU departs Singapore convoy SHIMI-02 also consisting of cargo ships DURBAN, FUKUJU and KUNIYAMA MARUs and tankers CHIHAYA, EIYO, and NICHINAN and SHINEI MARUs and TONAN MARU No. 2 escorted by subchaser CH-19 and minesweeper W-8.

11 May 1944:
Anchors briefly at Cape Kidurang.

12 May 1944:
At 1005, arrives at Miri, Borneo.

24 May 1944:
CHINA MARU departs Manila in convoy MATA-20 also consisting of CHIHAYA, EIYO , FUKUJU, KUNIYAMA, SHINEI, TAKETOYO and TENSHIN MARUs escorted by destroyers ASAKAZE, HARUKAZE and kaibokan CD- 11 and auxiliary gunboats CHOHAKUSAN and TOMITSU MARUs.

28 May 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

20 July 1944:
CHINA MARU departs Moji, but suffers engine trouble and returns to Hakata for repairs.

26 July 1944:
At 0600, CHINA MARU departs Imari Bay for Miri, Borneo in convoy MI-13 also consisting of cargo ships cargo ships ATLAS, DURBAN, HIGANE, HIYORI, KAZAN, KIZAN, KOKUSEI, KUNIYAMA, MATSUURA, RISSHUN, SHIROTAE and URAL MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and OGURA MARU No. 2 and tankers ATAGO, KYOEI, SHINCHO, TEIKON and TOKUWA MARUs escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA, CD-14, patrol boat PB-38, minelayer NIIZAKI minesweeper W-18, auxiliary minesweeper TAKUNAN MARU No. 3, auxiliary gunboat CHOHAKUSAN MARU and auxiliary patrol boats EIFU, FUYO, KASUGA and NUNOBIKI MARUs.

27 July 1944:
CHINA MARU suffers engine trouble and drops out of convoy. Axiliary minesweeper TAKUNAN MARU No.3 escorts the ship back to Imari Wan.

31 July 1944:
The convoy arrives at Takao. CHINA, MATSUURA and SHIROTAE,MARUs are detached and tankers SHIMPO and ZUIYO MARUs and cargo ship SHINKO MARU join the convoy. TAKUNAN MARU No. 3 and CHOHAKUSAN MARU are detached from the escort and replaced by destroyer ASAKAZE and kaibokan KUSAGAKI and YASHIRO. Naval Transport T. 3 also joins.

15 August 1944:
At 0600, CHINA MARU departs Moji for Takao in convoy MOTA-23 also consisting of ATSUTA, AWAJI, DAIJO, EDOGAWA, EIJI, EIMAN, FUKUREI, KOGYO, MANSHU, ROZAN and TOYOOKA MARUs and YOSHIDA MARU No. 3, TOYO MARU No. 3 and an unidentified ship escorted by destroyer HATSUSHIMO, torpedo boat HIYODORI, kaibokan CD-10, CD-20, minesweeper W-20 and subchaser CH-63

18 August 1944:
At 1950, the convoy arrives at Kagoshima.

20 August 1944:
At 0409, departs Kagoshima.

24 August 1944:
At about 0700, LtCdr Henry S. Monroe's (USNA ’33) USS RONQUIL (SS-396) torpedoes and hits and sinks YOSHIDA MARU No. 3. 96 troops, 10 gunners and all 70 crewmen are KIA. At about the same time, Monroe torpedoes and damages FUKUREI MARU carrying troops, coal and war supplies. She floods and drifts ashore where she is abandoned about three months later. 210 of the 1,445 troops aboard and four crewmen are KIA.

25 August 1944:
At 1400, the convoy arrives at Keelung.

21 September 1944:
Manila Bay. Anchored CHINA MARU is hit by bombs from aircraft of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA '10) Task Groups 38.1, 38.2, and 38.3 and sunk at 14-35N, 120-55E. Three men are KIA.

The planes also sink destroyer SATSUKI, army cargo ships EIKYU, FUKUEI, NANSEI, NORWAY, TOYOFUKU, TSUKUBASAN, WAKASHIRO, YAMABUKI and YOZAN MARUs, cargo ships AMAHI,HIOKI, RISSHUN, ROZAN, SOERABAJA and YAMAKAZE MARUs, fleet tanker KYOKUTO MARU, oilers SUNOSAKI and OKIKAWA MARU, tanker HORAI MARU No. 2 and merchant tanker NIYO MARU.

Author's Notes:
Little data were found detailing CHINA MARU's movements for Aug '42 to Aug '43 while in Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), K.K.'s service. Readers with access to such data are requested to post the information on the Discussion and Questions board or j-aircraft.org's IJN Ship Message Board

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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