(DURBAN MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 Bob Hackett

26 July 1919:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosen K. K. as Yard No. 329, a 7,154-ton passenger-cargo ship for Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), K. K. (Japan Mail Steamship Co.) of Tokyo.

10 November 1919:
Launched and named DURBAN MARU.

2 December 1919:
Completed and placed on NYK's service until the outbreak of the Pacific War.

25 May 1921:
Arrives at Victoria, British Columbia, Canada via Seattle, Washington from Yokohama, Japan.

26 May 1921:
Departs Victoria for San Franscisco, California.

April 1926:
Departs Singapore via the Suez Canal for the British Crown colony of Aden (now Yemen), Marseilles, France and Liverpool, England.

Fall 1940:
DURBAN MARU arrives at Bermuda carrying 1,600 tons of contraband of which 1,000 tons is tea. The tea is confiscated, unloaded and stored at the Royal Navy Dockyard.

12 November 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport. Allotted Army No. 994,

8 December 1941: The Pacific War Begins:

17 December 1941: The Invasion of Lamon Bay, Southern Luzon:
Imperial General Headquarters launches the combined IJA and IJN Lamon Bay Operation. The Army force consists of Gen (later Field Marshal) Count Terauchi Hisachi’s Southern Expeditionary Army. Its 14th Army, under LtGen Homma Masaharu, fields MajGen Morioka Susumu's Invasion Unit of about 7,000 troops consisting of elements of the 16th Infantry division: 20th Infantry, 22nd Field Artillery, HQ and II Battalion, 16 HQ Company, 16th Eng Battalion, 16th Recon Battalion, 3/45 AA Company, 16th Transport, 16th Signal Company, 16th Medical Unit and 16th Veterinary Unit. Two AA and one Signals regiments are stationed on IJA transports.


The naval force consists of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35)(former CO of KONGO) Southern Force, Philippines Invasion Group that includes Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo’s (35)(former CO of YAMASHIRO) Third Fleet. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kubo Kyuji’s (38) (former CO of KAGA) Invasion Unit consists of his 1st Base Force HQ, in light cruiser NAGARA, 1st Quartermaster Ports and Docks Unit and 1st Naval Signal Unit, aboard HAKUSAN MARU, 1st Naval Guard Unit, aboard KIMISHIMA MARU, 1st Naval Survey Unit in SENKO MARU and Captain (later Vice Admiral) Mori Kunizo's (40)(former CO of SATA) Sasebo No. 1 and 2 Combined Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) aboard MYOKO MARU.

The convoy’s escort consists of light cruiser NAGARA (F), heavy cruiser ASHIGARA, destroyers TOKITSUKAZE, YUKIKAZE, KAWAKAZE, SUSUKAZE, UMIKAZE, YAMAKAZE, minelayer AOTAKA, minesweepers W-7 and W-8, auxiliary gunboat/minelayer IKUSHIMA MARU, auxiliary gunboats BUSHO, KEIKO, KANKO and MYOKEN MARUs, auxiliary subchasers SHONAN MARU No. 17 and TAKUNAN MARU No. 5 and auxiliary netlayer FUKUEI MARU No. 15.

At 1500, the Invasion Force departs Koniya, Amami Oshima for Lamon Bay, Quezon, Philippines.

24 December 1941:
At 0200, the Invasion Force arrives at Lamon Bay. The landings proceed without strong opposition.

23 May 1942:
Released back to her ownners. Thereafter, serves as an IJA requisitioned cargo ship (A/C-AK)

5 January 1943:
DURBAN MARU departs Mako in convoy No. 360 also consisting of tanker MANJU MARU and FUKKAI and HITORA MARUs and DAIGEN MARU No. 8. escorted by destroyer FUYO.

11 January 1943:
Arrives at St Jacques, Vichy French, Indochina.

17 February 1943:
DURBAN MARU departs Tsukumi, calls at Kobe and departs for Nagoya in convoy No. 8218 also consisting of JIMBU, KONEI, INAMI (ex-Panamanian CAPELLA) MARU and SHOHO MARUs escorted by destroyer SAWAKAZE.

18 February 1943:
Arrives at Tokyo.

19 February 1943:
Arrives at Nagoya.

17 July 1943:
At 1800, DURBAN MARU departs Moji in a convoy also consisting of oilers HOYO, TACHIBANA and TAKETSU MARUs, IJA transport ARIMASAN MARU and IJN transport HAKONE MARU and three unidentified ships escorted by subchaser CH-9 and an unidentified auxiliary gunboat.

22 July 1943:
At 1320, arrives at Takao, Formosa.

29 August 1943:
DURBAN MARU departs Mako for Moji in convoy No. 297 also consisting of BANSHU, FUSEI (ex-British FUSANG), HARUSHIMA andKOKKO MARUs plus one unidentified ship escorted by torpedo boat SAGI.

31 August 1943:
E China Sea. At about 1010, LtCdr Royce L. Gross’ (USNA ‘30) USS SEAWOLF (SS-197) fires four torpedoes from periscope depth and gets two hits that sink KOKKO MARU at 28-30N-123-06E. 20 crewmen are KIA.

At about the same time and place, SEAWOLF gets two hits that sink SHOTO MARU at 28-30N-123-06E. 1 crewman is KIA. Also at about the same time SEAWOLF torpedoes and damages torpedo boat SAGI.

1 September 1943:
E China Sea. At 1245, DURBAN MARU avoids torpedoes fired by SEAWOLF, but at 2256, she is hit by a dud torpedo and suffers light damage.

At 2256, LtCdr Gross’ SEAWOLF torpedoes and hits FUSEI MARU in her No. 1 hold at 31-27N, 127-28E. At about 2330, Gross torpedoes her again and at midnight her captain orders Abandon Ship.

2 September 1943:
At about 0300, SEAWOLF’s gun crew shells and sinks FUSEI MARU at 31-16N, 127-14E.

3 September 1943:
Arrives at Moji. Later, at an unknown location, DURBAN MARU enters dock and undergoes inspection and repair of her torpedo damage.

29 October 1943: .
At 1120, DURBAN MARU departs Takao for Moji in convoy No. 215 also consisting of KOFUKU and REIYO MARUs and tankers RIKKO and ZUIYO MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.

30 October 1943:
The convoy arrives at Kirun (Keelung). Tanker NICHINAN MARU joins and the convoy departs for Moji

4 November 1943:
Enroute, TATSUWA MARU is detached for Sasebo. At 0740, the remainder of the convoy arrives safely at Moji.

3 December 1943:
DURBAN MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 118 also consisting of transports KAIRYU, NANREI, NISSHU, PANAMA, RAIZAN, TACOMA and TSUKIKAWA MARUs and cargo JUICHISEI MARU (HOSHI MARU No. 11 and four unidentified merchants with unknown escort/s.

8 December 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Takao.

January 1944:
DURBAN MARU departs Tarakan, Borneo for Manila in the RIN convoy also consisting of ATAGO MARU and two unidentified ships escorted by torpedo boat HAYABUSA and later by patrol boat PB-2.

21 January 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

24 March 1944:
DURBAN MARU departs departs Takao in convoy TASA-13 also consisting of CHINA, FUKUJU, HIDA, KYOKUZAN, NICHIAN, SHOEI, SETSUZAN, SHONAN, TASMANIA and TEIRITSU (ex-Vichy French LECONTE DE LISLE) MARUs and five other unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan AWAJI CH-19 and auxiliary gunboat PEKING MARU.

29 March 1944:
HIDA MARU is detached for Yulin. KYOKUZAN MARU is also detached for Sana. At about 0500, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Chester W. Nimitz Jr's (USNA ’36) USS HADDO (SS-255) torpedoes and damages NICHIAN MARU at 17-42N, 109-57E. The convoy shelters in the Baie de Kiquik.

30 March 1944:
Departs Baie de Kiquik.

1 April 1944:
Arrives at St Jacques.

4 April 1944:
DURBAN MARU departs St Jacques in convoy SASHI-16 also consisting of CHINA, FUKUJU and SHOEI MARUs (1986 GRT) escorted by subchaser CH-7.

7 April 1944:
Arrives at Singapore.

7 May 1944:
At 1900, DURBAN MARU departs Singapore in convoy SHIMI-02 also consisting of tankers CHIHAYA, EIYO, NICHINAN, SHINEI and TONAN MARU No. 2, and CHINA, FUKUJU and KUNIYAMA MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-18 and subchaser CH-19.

11 May 1944:
At 1545, arrives at Cape Kidurang and anchors briefly.

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

13 May 1944:
DURBAN MARU departs Miri in convoy MIMA-10 also consisting of CHINA, FUKUJU, SAN LUIS, TAKETOYO MARUs and six unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyers ASAKAZE and HARUKAZE, kaibokan CD-11 and subchaser CH-19.

19 May 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

30 May 1944:
DURBAN MARU departs Takao in convoy TAMO-20 also consisting of CHIHAYA, EIYO FUKUJU, HORAI, KOSHIN, TAKETSU (BUTSU) and TAKETOYO MARUs and 14 unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyers ASAKAZE, HARUKAZE, kaibokan CD 2, gunboat ATAKA and auxiliary gunboat TOMITSU MARU.

5 June 1944:
The convoy arrives at Moji.

21 July 1944:
DURBAN MARU departs Pusan, Korea.

24 July 1944:
Departs Moji.

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

31 July 1944:
The convoy arrives at Takao. CHINA, MATSUURA and SHIROTAE MARUs are detached. 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.

4 August 1944:
At 0830, the reconstituted convoy departs Takao.

7 August 1944:
At 2205, LtCdr (later Captain) Enrique D. Haskin's USS GUITARRO (SS-363) torpedoes and sinks kaibokan KUSAGAKI at 14-50N, 119-57E.

8 August 1944:
At 0900, the convoy arrives at Manila. DURBAN, KIZAN, RISSHUN, KUNIYAMA, SHINKO and ATLAS MARUs and W-18 are detached.

12 August 1944:
At 0600, DURBAN MARU departs Manila for Singapore in convoy MASA-10 also consisting OYO, RISSHUN, TEIRITSU (ex-Vichy French LECONTE DE LISLE) and YAMABUKI MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-18, subchasers CH-19 and CH-32, and four small unidentified auxiliary gunboats.

DURBAN MARU is carrying 3,354 military passengers including 2,358 men from the IJA 49th Division's 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, rapid fire artillery company of the 153rd Infantry Regiment, 49th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 49th Mountain Gun Regiment, 1st Company, 49th Engineer Regiment, Casualty Collecting Unit, 49th Division, Water Supply and Purification Unit, 49th Division and replacements for the (161st or 168th?) Infantry Regiment. Later that day, the convoy stops at Lucanin, Bataan Peninsula.

13 August 1944:
At 2000, the convoy departs for Saigon, but the weather worsens and the convoy returns to Lucanin.

14 August 1944:
At 1700, the convoy restarts its journey.

15 August 1944:
The four small auxiliary gunboats lose contact with the convoy.

20 August 1944:
At 1810, the convoy anchors in Camrahn Bay, Vichy French, Indochina.

21 August 1944:
At 0800, the convoy departs Camrahn Bay. .

At about 0950, DURBAN MARU avoids a torpedo fired by LtCdr Michael P. Russillo's (USNA ’27) USS MUSKALLUNGE (SS-262), but another hits her No. 4 hold. Her engine room and the hold begin to flood. At 1100, Abandon Ship is ordered. The escorts drop 46 depth-charges, but MUSKALLUNGE evades.

DURBAN MARU begins to sinks slowly. OYO MARU returns to tow her to the beach. Plans are made to remove some of her cargo of ammunition, but she suddenly starts sinking faster. At 1400, DURBAN MARU sinks by the stern at 1l-45N, 109-46E. 509 troops and 6 crewmen are KIA.

Author's Note:
Thanks go to reader Charles Bogart for the info on 1940.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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