(FUSO MARU, prewar)

Hospital Ship/Transport FUSO MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

©2012 Bob Hackett
Revision 1

E 1907:
Glasgow, Scotland. Laid down at Barcay Curle Co. Ltd. as a 8,196-ton passenger-cargo ship for the Russian East Asiatic Steamship Co. of St. Petersburg, Russia.

May 1908:
Launched and named RUSSIA.

February 1909:
Completed. She can accommodate 42 1st class passengers, 88 2nd class passengers and 3rd class passengers and 144 crewmen.

Renamed RUSSIJA.

Acquired by Akties Det Ostasiatisko Kompagni of Copenhagen, Denmark and renamed RUSS.

Renamed LATVIA.

24 December 1923:
Sold to the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) K.K. Line. Renamed FUSO MARU

18 July 1924:
Departs Kobe on OSK’s established Kobe – Kirun (Keelung), Formosa (Taiwan) route. FUSO MARU regularly plies this route for the next ten years.

March 1934:
Placed on OSK’s Kobe ~ Dairen (Dalian), Manchukuo (Manchuria). FUSO MARU regularly plies this route for the next seven years.

November 1941:
Chartered by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) as a troop transport. Probably painted grey overall and armed with a suite of AA guns.

8 November 1941:
Departs Ujina.

26 November 1941:
Arrives at Saigon, Indochina.

30 November 1941:
Departs Saigon.

13 December 1941 - Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
At 0830, departs Camranh Bay, Indochina in the IJA 5th Infantry Division Transportation Movement. FUSO MARU is in the TransDiv3 with CHIFUKU, NAGANO SHIRAHA, SHINKAHA MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1.

16 December 1941:
Arrives at Singora, Siam (now Songhkla, Thailand) supporting the Singora Invasion Unit that landed on 8 December.

21 December 1941:
Departs Singora.

23 December 1941:
Arrives at Saigon.

E Late December 1941:
FUSO MARU is rerated a a Byoinsen (hospital ship). Probably disarmed and painted white with a green horizontal strip and red crosses on the sides and funnel.

30 December 1941:
Departs Saigon.

2 January 1942:
Arrives at Singora.

7 January 1942:
Departs Singora.

11 January 1942:
Arrives at Saigon.

12 January 1942:
Departs Saigon.

14 January 1942:
Arrives at Camranh Bay.

11 February 1942:
FUSO MARU departs Camranh Bay, Indochina with the Bangka-Palembang, Sumatra invasion force consisting of TSUSHIMA, RAKUYO, LIMA, MAKASSAR, KENZUI, SHINSEI, MEIGAN, BUYO, HIROKAWA, SHONAN, GINYO, INABASAN and ARGUN MARUs escorted by light (training ) cruiser KASHII (F), destroyers YUGIRI, AMAGIRI, kaibokan SHIMUSHU, minelayer HATSUTAKA and subchaser CH-9.

16 February 1942:
The transports land troops near Palembang, Sumatra, Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia).

20 February 1942:
FUSO MARU arrives at Palembang. Probably remains at anchor nearby.

21 February 1942:
The 54th hospital group embarks patients for transport. Departs Palembang.

25 February 1942:
Arrives at Muntok, Sumatra.

28 February 1942:
Departs Muntok.

7 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore, Malaya (now Malaysia).

9 March 1942:
Departs Singapore.

13 March 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanamar) and departs that day.

16 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

17 March 1942:
Departs Singapore.

12 April 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon.

13 April 1942:
Departs Rangoon.

28 April 1942:
Arrives at Saigon.

30 April 1942:
Departs Saigon.

5 May 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

9 May 1942:
Departs Singapore.

19 May 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon.

20 May 1942:
Departs Rangoon.

24 May 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

2 June 1942:
Departs Singapore

5 June 1942:
Arrives at Saigon.

6 June 1942:
Departs Saigon.

12 June 1942:
Arrives at Hong Kong, British Crown Colony (now People's Republic of China).

14 June 1942:
Departs Hong Kong.

27 June 1942:
Arrives at Ujina. Probably undergoes maintenance and overhaul at a nearby, but unknown location.

26 August 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

27 August 1942:
Departs Dairen.

28 August 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

5 September 1942:

8 September 1942:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

8 September 1942:
Departs Mako.

19 September 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

20 September 1942:
Departs Singapore.

27 September 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon.

30 September 1942:
The 53rd hospital group embarks patients for transport. Departs Rangoon.

4 October 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

9 October 1942:
Departs Singapore.

15 October 1942:
Arrives at Rangoon.

16 October 1942:
The 53rd hospital group embarks patients for transport. Departs Rangoon.

20 October 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

29 October 1942:
The 53rd hospital group embarks patients for transport. Departs Singapore.

31 October 1942:
Arrives at Saigon.

3 November 1942:
Departs Saigon.

5 November 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

9 November 1942:
The 53rd hospital group embarks patients for transport, Departs Singapore.

15 November 1942:
Arrives at Hong Kong .

17 November 1942:
The 53rd hospital group embarks patients for transport. Departs Hong Kong.

21 November 1942:
Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues an official notice to all belligerent countries that FUSO MARU is employed as a hospital ship.

22 November 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

23 November 1942:
Arrives at Osaka.

24 November 1942:
Departs Ujina.

28 November 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

30 November 1942:
Departs Dairen.

2 December 1942:
Arrives at Osaka and departs that day.

3 December 1942:
Arrives at Dairen.

5 December 1942:
The 17th hospital group embarks patients for transport. Departs Dairen.

6 December 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

7 December 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

8 December 1942:
Departs Ujina.

17 December 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

18 December 1942:
Departs Palau.

27 December 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

27 December 1942:
Departs Rabaul.

30 December 1942:
Arrives at Kokopo, S Rabaul, New Britain.

2 January 1943:
Departs Kokopo.

5 January 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

8 January 1943:
Departs Takao.

10 January 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

20 January 1943:
Departs Manila

22 January 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

23 January 1943:
Departs Takao.

26 January 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

4 February 1943:
Departs Moji.

5 February 1943:
Arrives at Dairen.

7 February 1943:
Departs Dairen.

9 February 1943:
Arrives at Moji

24 February 1943:
Departs Ujina.

1 March 1943:
Arrives at Palau and departs that day.

17 March 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

18 March 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

28 March 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

29 March 1943:
Departs Manila.

30 March 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

2 April 1943:
Departs Palau.

10 April 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

12 April 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

15 April 1943:
Near Shortland Islands. Shortly after sunrise, hospital ship FUSO MARU is bombed by Allied planes three times near 03-33S, 152-20E. [1]

At an unknown date, FUSO MARU is rerateda troop transport. She is probably repainted overall grey and armed with AA guns.

12 October 1943:
At 1600, FUSO MARU departs Moji in convoy HI-13 consisting of tanker KYOKUEI MARU and transport/cargo ships AMATSU, SANUKI, NANKAI, MIZUHO, AOBASAN and MANILA MARUs escorted by destroyer ASAKAZE and kaibokan TSUSHIMA.

16 October 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

18 October 1943:
Departs Takao.

21 October 1943:
Arrives at Samah, Hainan Island, China.

24 October 1943:
Departs Samah.

30 October 1943:
At 1546, arrives at Singapore.

14 February 1944:
At 1400, FUSO MARU departs Wasile in convoy M-12 consisting of MIZUHO, MITSUKI, KENWA, TONEGAWA, KUROGANE and WALES MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-4 and patrol boat PB-105.

16 February 1944:
At 0145, KENWA MARU is attacked unsucessfully by a submarine, probably LtCdr (later Captain) Henry G. Munson's (USNA '32) USS CREVALLE (SS-291). At 2000, W-4 is detached.

22 February 1944:
At 0300, FUSO departs Takao with patrol PB-38 escorting convoy TAMO-12 consisting of HAKOZAKI, KUROGANE, YOZAN, SEATTLE, CLYDE, CHINZEI, SHINYO, MISAKI, SHINKOKU (cargo), KAIKO, TSUKUBA, SAINEI, SHONAN and YAMAHAGI MARUs escorted by kaibokan KURI.

23 February 1944:
KAMO MARU and an unidentified ship joins from Keelung and KAIKO MARU and six other unidentified ships split away from the convoy and depart escorted by KURI.

5 March 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

E 8 June 1944:
Departs Moji for Pusan.

E 8 June 1944:
Arrives at Pusan. Loads troops of the IJA's Kwantung Army.

E 19 June 1944:
Departs Pusan.

20 June 1944:
Arrives at Moji. Disembarks troops.

12 July 1944:
At 1500, FUSO MARU departs Moji for Miri, Borneo in convoy MI-11 also consisting of tankers KOEI, TAKETOYO, SHICHIYO, AYAGUMO and HARIMA MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 1 and cargo/transports AYAYUKI, EIKYU, YOSHINO (ex-Dutch KLIEST), MIHO, ENOSHIMA, MANKO, HACHIJIN, DAKAR, TEIRITSU and FUKUJU MARUs and BANSHU MARU No. 16 and escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE, kaibokan SHIMUSHU, minesweepers W-38 and W-39, subchaser CH-55 and auxiliary gunboat KAZAN (HUA SHAN) MARU.

FUSO MARU carries 4,426 troops, mainly Army air force personnel including 218-man 2nd Co. of the 6th Aviation Signal Regiment Company (wire) augmented by other regimental signalmen out of Manchuria, is destined for Negros Island. Also aboard is the 125-man 1st Independent Maintenance Unit and 10th Air Repair Depot all detached from the Manchuria air forces. The largest group consists of 1,004 replacement airmen heading to the 7th Air Division in the Netherlands East Indies. The 31st Fighter Regiment—converted to Ki-43 Hayabusa fighters from light bombers in late 1943 and deploying out of Manchuria—has 263 men from both its headquarters and its ground elements aboard. These ground elements are heading for the Philippines. The regiment’s forty or so aircraft already flew through Shanghai and Formosa and arrived at Clark Field on 10 July.

Nine hundred twenty-six soldiers of a recently-created independent infantry battalion are headed for Luzon. Signal and engineer units are also en route to fill one of the new, locally-raised Philippine divisions. Also aboard from Manchuria are mechanics from four independent maintenance units belonging to two field air repair depots and 126 men from 2nd Company, 2nd Field Searchlight Battalion.

FUSO MARU's cargo includes 36 trucks and 1,120-tons of oil field production equipment and she carries 220 crewmen and gunners.

18 July 1944:
At 1800, the convoy arrives at Takao and refuels. Destroyer SHIOKAZE is detached. This important convoy is carrying reinforcements and ammunition for the defense of the Philippines, so the escort is reorganized and strengthened and now consists of kaibokan SHIMUSHU and CD-28, minesweepers W-28, W-38 and W-39, subchaser CH-55 and auxiliary gunboat KAZAN (HUA SHAN) MARU.

29 July 1944:
At 0500, the convoy departs Takao for Miri, Borneo. EIKYU MARU suffers engine problems and returns to Nan Bay.

30 July 1944:
At 2200, BANSHU MARU No. 16 incurs rudder problems and collides with MANKO MARU bow-to-bow, both are damaged, but able to proceed.

31 July 1944:
Luzon Strait. A wolfpack patrols the Strait under Captain (later Rear Admiral) Lewis S. Parks consisting of LtCdr (later Vice Admiral/MOH/COMSUBLANT) Lawson P. Ramage's (USNA '31) USS PARCHE (SS-384)(F), LtCdr (later Captain) David L. Whelchel's (USNA '30) STEELHEAD (SS-280) and LtCdr John C. Martin's (USNA '34) HAMMERHEAD (SS-364).

280 miles NNW of Cape Mayraira, Luzon. At 0332, LtCdr Ramage's PARCHE torpedoes and sinks KOEI MARU. Although she is carrying a unit of 1,050 IJA troops, casualties are relatively light, about 150 troops and nine crewmen are KIA.

About the same time, tanker OGURA MARU No. 1 is hit by a torpedo, but does not sink. At 0340, Ramage torpedoes and sinks YOSHINO MARU. She carries down 2,442 of the 5,063 IJA troops she was carrying, 18 gunners and 35 crewmen and 400 cubic meters of ammunition. [1][2]

At 0420, Whelchel's STEELHEAD torpedoes DAKAR MARU, but she does not sink.

Aboard FUSO MARU forty men on lookout duty including IJA artillery lookouts assigned to the ship, ships’ lookouts, and soldiers. At 0455, one man spots the torpedo’s approach, and the captain turns his rudder hard to port. But it is too late. STEELHEAD's torpedo hits FUSO MARU portside in the engine room. FUSO MARU bucks and trembles from the explosion, and the blast blows upwards through a nest of deck life boats and destroys them.

FUSO MARU takes on a 25 degree list in heavy seas when the Abandon Ship order is issued. Deck cargo vehicles break loose and fall onto men in the water. At 0510, she sinks taking down 1,316 of 4,500 troops aboard, including 70 men of 2nd Co, 6th Aviation Signal Regiment, 12 other passengers and 22 crewmen. Supplies, 36 vehicles, medical stores and 1,120 tons of oil production equipment are also lost.

All together, the ships take down several thousand military personnel, crewmen and their cargoes of ammunition and other supplies. Thousands of troops are left floating in the waters of Balintang Channel.

Author's Notes:
[1] Reported 20 April 1943, by Berlin.

Thanks go to John Whitman for detailed info on FUSO MARU's passengers and cargo. Thanks also go to Allan Alsleben of Oregon.

Bob Hackett

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