(HAVANA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013 Bob Hackett

Innoshima (Hiroshima). Laid down at Osaka Iron Works as Yard No. 936, a 5,651-ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line, Kobe.

March 1920:
Launched and named HAVANA MARU.

10 April 1920:
Completed. Departs Kobe on her maiden voyage for OSK to Norther Europe.

Converted from coal to oil fired propulsion.

1921 ~ 1930:
In service on OSK’s Far East ~ New York route.

September 1923: The Great Kanto Earthquake:
Following the disaster, HAVANA MARU carries refugees to the Osaka/Kobe area.

8 March 1924:
Arrives at Ellis Island, New York from San Francisco via the Panama Canal.

Transferred to OSK’s Kobe ~ Bombay ~ Calcutta route.

12 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army as a troop transport. Allotted IJA No. 860.

16 December 1941: The Occupation of Davao, Mindanao, Philippines:
HAVANA MARU is assigned to the Philippines Invasion Group under command of Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo’s (36) Third Fleet as part of the Davao Invasion Unit under command of Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Irifune Naosaburo (39).

The occupation of Davao is a combined IJN/IJA operation which involves Gen (later Field Marshal) Count Terauchi Hisachi’s command’s Southern Expeditionary Amy. The Navy 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 (36)(former CO of YAMASHIRO) Third Fleet. Close escort consists of minelayer SHIRITAKA and patrol boats PB-36 and PB-37. Cover is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (41) light cruiser JINTSU, DesDiv 15’s HAYASHIO, NATSUSHIO, OYASHIO and KUROSHIO and DesDiv 16's YUKIKAZE, HATSUKAZE and AMATSUKAZE.

Rear Admiral (Admiral posthumously) Takagi Takeo's (39)(former CO of MUTSU) CruDiv 5's NACHI, MYOKO and HAGURO provide distant cover. Air cover is provided by light carrier RYUJO and seaplane carrier CHITOSE.

The 16th Army, under LtGen (later General) Imamura Hitoshi fields MajGen (later LtGen) Sakaguchi Shizuo's “Sakaguchi” Detachment of about 6,000 troops consisting of the 56th Infantry Division's 56 Hq Company, 146th Infantry Regiment, 1st Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Battalion of 56 Artillery Regiment with 12 75mm field guns, one Tank Company, one Engineer Company, one Transport Company, one Signal unit platoon, 56th medical Unit, Field Hospital Unit and the Miura Detachment of about 1,200 troops of the 16th Infantry Division, the 16th Infantry Div’s Heavy weapons Company of 33th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Battalion and two Engineer platoons of the 56th Infantry Division. Two AA and one Signals Regiment are stationed on IJA transports. The convoy is organized into three subdivisions.

HAVANA MARU is in the 3rd subdivision also consisting of Army transport HANKOW and Navy transports TATSUKAMI, KOSHIN MARUs and EIKO MARU No. 2 GO.

16 December 1941:
At 1600, the 3rd subdivision departs Palau.

20 December 1941:
At 0320, the 3rd subdivision arrives at Talomo Anchorage (6 km SW of Davao).

22 December 1941:
HAVANA MARU departs Davao in the Jolo Occupation Convoy also consisting of IJA transports, KURETAKE, LIVERPOOL, TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG) and TSURUGA MARUs and IJN transports KOSHIN and NICHIAN MARUs and EIKO MARU No. 2 GO and an unidentified transport. The convoy carries about 4,000 men consisting of the Sakaguchi Detachment (56th Mixed Infantry Corps, Matsumoto Detachment of the 146th Infantry Regiment, 1st Field Artillery Battalion, the Miura Detachment of the 16th Army Division, IJN 3rd Airfield Construction Unit, engineer and communications units and the Kure No. 1 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF). The convoy is escorted by DesRon 2's light cruiser JINTSU and DesDiv 15's HAYASHIO, KUROSHIO, NATSUSHIO and OYASHIO. Carrier RYUJO and seaplane tenders CHITOSE and SANUKI MARU provide air cover.

24 December 1941: The Invasion of Jolo, Philippines.
At 2000, the landings on Jolo, Philippines begin.

25 December 1941:
At 1030, Jolo, including its airfield, is secured.

26 December 1941:
The first IJN fighters land on Jolo.

6 January 1942: The Invasion of Tarakan, Dutch Borneo:
At 1100, HAVANA MARU departs Daliao (13 km SW of Davao) in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto´s (39) Tarakan Occupation Force Convoy’s 2nd subdivision (left wing unit) also consisting of Army transports TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG), KURETAKE and NICHIAI and Navy transports KAGU, KUNITSU and RAKUTO MARUs. The 2nd subdivision transports the Sakaguchi Detachment, 5th Construction Unit and 2nd Defense Unit.

10 January 1942:
At 1900, both the 1st and 2nd subdivisions arrive at No. 1 Anchorage. At 2215, the 2nd subdivision including HAVANA MARU departs No. 1 Anchorage.

11 January 1942:
At 0100, arrives at No. 2 Anchorage At 0220, the landing barges cast off from the transport ships and head towards the landing zone on the SE coast of Tarakan.

21 January 1942:
At 1700, HAVANA MARU departs Tarakan in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto's (former CO of AOBA) Balikpapan Invasion Force convoy carrying the Sakaguchi Detachment in the 2nd subdivision also consisting of Army transports HANKOW, TEIRYU and KURETAKE MARUs (Sakaguchi Detachment) and Navy transports KANAYAMASAN MARU (2nd Construction Unit), FUJIKAGE (TOEI) MARU (1st Defense Unit) and NANA MARU (11th Air Fleet Transport). Hirose’s No. 2 Base Force includes patrol boats PB-36, PB-37 and PB-38, MinesweepDiv 11’s W-13, W-14, W-15, W-16, MinesweepDiv 30’s W-17, W-18 and SubchaDiv 31’s CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12 and other auxiliary ships.

Cover is provided by light cruiser NAKA with DesDiv 2's YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, MURASAME, HARUSAME, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO and DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE and UMIKAZE. Seaplane tenders SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover.

Poor weather hampers air reconnaissance by ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) forces, but ABDA Air finally locates the invasion force. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) William A. Glassford's Task Force 5's light cruisers USS MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), BOISE (CL-47) and Cdr Paul H. Talbot's DesDiv 59's old destroyers PARROTT (DD-218), POPE (DD-225), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and PAUL JONES (DD-230) are ordered to stop the invasion force, but BOISE runs aground and MARBLEHEAD develops engine trouble. DesDiv 59 is detached and increases speed to arrive at Balikpapan at midnight on January 23rd.

23 January 1942: The Invasion of Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo:
Storms protect the invasion force until it is almost to Balikpapan. At 1525, nine Dutch Martin Model 166 (B-10) bombers from Samarinda attack and hit transports TATSUGAMI and NANA MARUs. The latter is abandoned and later sinks. TATSUGAMI MARU, only slightly damaged, continues on to Balikpapan. At 2045, Hirose's invasion convoy arrives and anchors off Balikpapan. At 2130, the transports begin disembarking troops.

24 January 1942:
Cdr Talbot's DesDiv 59 arrives from the south. At 0316, they begin their first attack firing their 4-inch guns and launching ten torpedoes at the anchored transports, but all their torpedoes miss. Talbot orders another attack. At 0330, USS POPE (DD-225) hits and sinks transport SUMANOURA MARU. At 0335, PARROTT (DD-218) and PAUL JONES (DD-230) torpedo and sink already damaged TATSUGAMI MARU in Balikpapan Bay at 01-18 S, 117-04E. At 0350, their torpedoes gone, DesDiv 59 departs southward. [1]

3 October 1942:
HAVANA MARU departs Saeki for Rabaul, probably via Saipan in convoy Oki Part 5 also consisting of TOYO MARU.

18 November 1942:
Off Kahili airfield, Bougainville. USAAF 5th Air Force B-17 heavy bombers attack HAVANA MARU while she is unloading troops at Elebenta anchorage. Hit by bombs, she sinks at 06-48S, 155-49E. Casualties are unknown.

Author’s Note:
[1] At 0345, USS JOHN D. FORD sinks transport KURETAKE MARU with gunfire and torpedoes. Two other transports suffer damage from gunfire and torpedoes but remain afloat. USS POPE and PARROTT sink the 2nd Base Force's patrol boat PB-37 with torpedoes and gunfire.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

- Bob Hackett

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