(Heian Maru shown in her pre-war NYK colors)

IJN Submarine Tender HEIAN MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 1998-2018 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall
Revision 10

19 June 1929:
Osaka. Laid down as a 11,616-ton passenger-cargo liner by the Osaka Iron Works for the Nippon Yusen K. K. (NYK) Line.

16 April 1930:
Launched and named HEIAN MARU. Sister ship of the HIE MARU and HIKAWA MARU.

24 November 1930:

18 December 1930:
Departs Hong Kong for Seattle, Washington on her maiden voyage.

In service on the NYK (Japan Mail) Line's Kobe to Seattle route via Nagoya, Shimidzu, Yokohama and Vancouver.

16 August 1941:
Returns in ballast from Seattle to Yokohama. This marks the last voyage of a Japanese vessel to Seattle prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War.

3 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJN.

15 October 1941:
Registered as a prospective submarine tender in the Yokosuka Naval District. Begins conversion at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ shipyard at Kobe. Four 6-inch (152-mm) 41st Year Type single mount guns, one 3.5 m range finder, two Type 93 dual 13-mm machine guns and one 1100-mm diameter and one 900-mm diameter search lights are fitted. A degaussing cable (anti-magnetic mine device) is also fitted.

30 December 1941:
Completes conversion. Thereafter, HEIAN MARU is assigned to Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (36) (former CO of 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet) Sixth Fleet (Submarines) in Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu’s (40) SubRon 1, Combined Fleet, based at Kwajalein.

31 December 1941:
Departs Kure for Kwajalein.

8 January 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

1 February 1942:
Vice Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. Halsey Jr’s (USNA ’04) Task Force 8 (USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6)) raids Kwajalein and Wotje in the Marshall Islands. USS ENTERPRISE’s Douglas “Dauntless” SBDs of VB-6 and VS-6 and TBD “Devastators” of VT-6 sink a transport and damage light cruiser KATORI, flagship of the Sixth Fleet, I-23, submarine depot ship YASUKUNI MARU and several other important ships.

9 February 1942:
Departs Kwajalein.

17 February 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

16 March 1942:
Departs Kure. That same day Vice Admiral, the Marquis, Komatsu Teruhisa (37) (former CO of CA NACHI) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines).

18 March 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka. At anchor at Yokosuka until 18 August 1942.

10 April 1942:
HEIAN MARU is in the Sixth Fleet in Rear Admiral Sato's SubRon 1 as the tender for flagship I-9 and SubDiv 2 (I-15, I-17, I-19) and SubDiv 4 (I-25, 1-26).

14 July 1942:
HEIAN MARU is in the Sixth Fleet in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Yamazaki Shigeaki's (41) SubRon 1 as the tender for flagship 1-9 and SubDiv 2 (I-15, I-17, I-19), SubDiv 4 (I-25, I-26) and SubDiv 15 (I-31, I-32, I-33).

18 August 1942:
At 1730 departs Yokosuka.

24 August 1942:
At 1435 arrives at Truk.

24 September 1942:
Departs Kure.

5 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul. Disembarks troops and vehicles.

25 December 1942:
At 1000 departs Truk.

28 December 1942:
At 1034 arrives at Rabaul.

1 January 1943:
HEIAN MARU is in the Sixth Fleet in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Mito Hisashi's (42) SubRon 1 as the tender for flagship 1-9 and SubDiv 2 (I-17, I-19, I-25, I-26) and SubDiv 15 (I-31, I-32 and I-36).

USAAF Fifth Air Force B-17 "Flying Fortress" and B-24 "Liberator" bombers attack shipping in Rabaul's Simpson harbor. HEIAN MARU is targeted by several bombers, but escapes damage. She fires a total of 8,000 13.2-mm rounds in return.

3 January 1943:
Rabaul is attacked by B-17s based at Espiritu Santo. About 0630 (local), HEIAN MARU is again targeted by several bombers. They score a number of near misses off her port side. The flak crews of HEIAN MARU fire 7,638 13.2-mm rounds to ward off the attack.

29 March 1943:
Rear Admiral Koda Takero (41) (former CO of CHOKAI) assumes command of SubRon 1.

4 May 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka from Truk escorted by destroyer FUMIZUKI.

11 May 1943: American Operation “Landcrab” - The Invasion of Attu, Aleutians:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Thomas C. Kinkaid’s (USNA ’08) Task Force 16, covered by Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral-Ret) Francis W. Rockwell’s (USNA ’08) Task Force 51, lands elements of the Army’s 4th and 7th Infantry Divisions under the command of Maj Gen Eugene M. Landrum at Holtz Bay and Massacre Bay that later capture the island.

21 May 1943: Operation “KE” – The Evacuation of Kiska:
The Imperial General Headquarters decides to evacuate the garrison at Kiska Island, Aleutians.

27 May 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

2 June 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro. Supports SubRon 1's operations in the Aleutians.

21 June 1943:
Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo (39) (former CO of MUTSU) assumes command of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines). Vice Admiral Komatsu is later appointed President of the Etajima Naval Academy.

23 June 1943:
HEIAN MARU undergoes repairs from newly arrived repair ship HAKKAI MARU.

Late May to 28 July 1943:
Paramushiro. HEIAN MARU serves as Rear Admiral Koda's HQ during the withdrawal from Kiska.

28 July 1943: Operation “KE”:
The Japanese complete the evacuation of Kiska Island, Aleutians.

14 August 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka.

5 September 1943:
Attached directly to the Combined Fleet.

16 September 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

19 September 1943:
Arrives at Shanghai.

20 September 1943:
HEIAN MARU departs Shanghai in convoy "Tei No. 2" (T2-GO Transportation Strategy) also consisting of transports KIYOSUMI and GOKOKU MARUs and flying boat tender AKITSUSHIMA escorted by destroyers HIBIKI, MAKINAMI and YAMAGUMO.

The convoy carries 5,940 men of the IJA’s 17th Division’s headquarters staff, 53rd infantry regiment, 54th Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 1st Battalion, 23rd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Company, 17th Engineers, 17th Tank Regiment, a car platoon and the division’s Communication Station, 650 vehicles and 6,000 cubic meters of supplies.

HEIAN MARU embarks the CO of the 17th Infantry Division, 1,900 of his men, lead engineer troops and 240 wheeled vehicles. She also carries 900 cubic meters of supplies and a cargo of torpedoes.

KIYOSUMI MARU carries 1,300 men of the 17th Division’s 53rd Infantry Regiment including the regimental commander and 170 vehicles and 2,800 cubic meters of supplies. GOKOKU MARU carries 1,850 men. AKITSUSHIMA carries 500 men including the brigade commander, 10 vehicles and 400 cubic meters of supplies. Destroyers HIBIKI, MAKINAMI and YAMAGUMO each carry 130 men.

E 23 September 1943:
Arrives at Woosung Pier near Shanghai .

24 September 1943:
Departs Woosung and later that day arrives at Ta Chen Shan.

25 September 1943:
Departs Ta Chen Shan.

2 October 1943:
The convoy arrives at Truk Atoll. HEIAN MARU unloads torpedoes.

The majority of the Combined Fleet is lying at anchor including BatDiv 1's YAMATO, MUSASHI and NAGATO, BatDiv 2's FUSO and BatDiv 3's KONGO and HARUNA, CarDiv 1's SHOKAKU, ZUIKAKU and ZUIHO, CruDiv 5's MYOKO and HAGURO, CruDiv 8's CHIKUMA and TONE, light cruisers AGANO, NOSHIRO and destroyers. Vice Admiral Kurita Takao (38) leads the second section with his Advance Force: CruDiv 4's ATAGO, TAKAO, MAYA and CHOKAI.

Convoy Tei No. 2 departs Truk that evening.

3 October 1943:
An enemy patrol bomber appears, but dense clouds make an attack on the convoy impossible.

5 October 1943:
At 1000, arrives at Rabaul.

6 October 1943:
At 1524 departs Rabaul’s Pier No. 5 in convoy with GOKOKU and KIYOZUMI MARUs escorted by destroyer YAMAGUMO.

9 October 1943:
At 0720 arrives at Truk.

14 October 1943:
Departs Truk escorted by destroyer ASANAGI.

21 October 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

23 October to 7 November 1943:
Yokosuka Navy Yard. Refitted. The four 152-mm guns are removed and replaced by two 120-mm AA gun (10th Year Type), two Type 96 25-mm twin mounts and two Type 93 13.2-mm twin mounts In addition, a Type 2 sonar is installed. The crew complement is increased to 242 men. HEIAN MARU's dazzle camoflague pattern is possibly applied at this time.

1 November 1943:
Captain-Retired (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Tamaki Toshiharu (36) assumes command.

7 November 1943:
Departs Yokosuka on training and returns later that day.

14 November 1943:
At 1257, departs Yokosuka in convoy No. 3115 with storeship IRAKO and aircraft transport KEIYO MARU escorted by destroyer YUKIKAZE and kaibokan OKI. At 1507 stops at Tateyama.

15 November 1943:
At 0305 departs Tateyama.

16 November 1943:
Lookouts on HEIAN MARU sight an enemy submarine travelling in the opposite direction. (probably USS DACE (SS-247).

19 November 1943:
At 0724 (JST), the convoy is attacked by LtCdr (later Captain) Joseph Enright's (USNA ’33) USS DACE on her first patrol. Enright targets HEIAN MARU. A torpedo barely misses the bow of OKI. The kaibokan counter-attacks with depth-charges. Even HEIAN MARU drops a DC, but the USS DACE escapes undamaged.

23 November 1943:
Arrives at Truk at 1550.

1 December 1943:
Truk. HEIAN MARU is designated as tender and accommodation ship of Rear Admiral Koda's SubRon 1 for flagship I-11 and SubDiv 2 (I-16, I-19, I-21, I-39, I-40) and SubDiv 15 (I-32, I-35, I-36, I-38, I-41).

4 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to RO-36 and supplies to RO-36.

6 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers supplies to RO-36.

7 December 1943:
Truk. Transfer munitions to I-17 and torpedoes to I-36.

8 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers supplies to I-36 and RO-36 and torpedoes to I-175.

9 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers distilled water to I-175. I-36 leaves the side of HEIAN MARU.

10 December 1943:
Transfers torpedoes to I-32.

12 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-37 and I-36.

13 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-32 and I-169.

15 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers stores to RO-37.

16 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-35.

17 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-171.

19 December 1943:
Truk. Refuels RO-34.

20 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-74 and distilled water to I-36.

21 December 1943:
Truk. Refuels RO-42 and transfers stores to I-36.

22 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers stores to RO-42 and torpedoes to I-171.

23 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-175.

25 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-171.

27 December 1943:
Truk. Comes alongside battleship YAMATO and receives bunker fuel oil.

28 December 1943:
Truk. Separates from YAMATO.

29 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers stores to I-171 and torpedoes to I-69.

30 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-175.

31 December 1943:
Truk. Transfers distilled water to I-175 and stores to RO-37.

3 January 1944:
Truk. Receives stores from auxiliary storeship HOKO MARU.

6 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-169.

7 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-171.

8 January 1944:
Truk. Receives stores from light cruiser KATORI.

9 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to I-169 and I-36.

10 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers stores to I-175.

12 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers stores to RO-44.

13 January 1944:
Truk. At Truk receives stores from IRAKO.

14 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers stores to RO-41.

15 January 1944:
SubRon 1 is deactivated. Rear Admiral Koda is reassigned to the Kure Navy Yard.

16 January 1944:
Truk. Receives stores from IRAKO.

17 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers stores to RO-39.

19 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to RO-36 and I-180.

23 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers stores to I-185.

24 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers stores and torpedoes to I-169.

25 January 1944:
Truk. Transfers stores to I-169 and RO-36.

28 January 1944:
Transfers torpedoes to RO-42.

31 January 1942:
Truk. Transfers torpedoes to RO-40 and RO-36.

17-18 February 1944: American Operation "Hailstone" - The Attack on Truk:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA ’10) Task Force 58's five fleet carriers and four light carriers, supported by six battleships, ten cruisers and 28 destroyers, launch air attacks on airfields, shore installations and ships in the lagoon. Mitscher launches 30 strikes of at least 150 aircraft each. Beginning at dawn, the strikes are launched about every hour for two days.

Truk Lagoon. HEIAN MARU is anchored on the leeward side of Dublon Island with the hospital ship TENNO MARU (later HIKAWA MARU No. 2) and cargo ship URAKAMI MARU when at 0435 (JST) an air raid alarm is given. HEIAN MARU, carrying Vice Admiral Takagi and his Sixth Fleet staff, weighs anchor and steers a zigzag course N of Dublon. The Japanese expect a hit-and-run attack like the one on Kwajalein two years earlier. Grumman F6F-3 "Hellcats" repeatedly strafe HEIAN MARU, but without effect, at least initially. Her crew fires a total of 400 rounds, some from their Arisaka rifles, in an attempt to ward off the attacks.

At 1310, HEIAN MARU is attacked by a single Grumman SB2C "Helldiver" that comes in from astern. It drops two bombs that damage one of her shafts and floods the No. 6 hold aft. The crew pumps some fuel to her bow tanks and manages to correct the trim. After sunset, HEIAN MARU moors at the pier at Dublon Island. Vice Admiral Takagi and his staff disembark. The crew starts to unload the spare Type 95 oxygen-propelled torpedoes.

18 February 1944:
At 0110, another air raid commences and HEIAN MARU gets underway again. At 0304, she is hit by two bombs that explode above her engine room on the port side. A fire starts in a compartment adjoining the officers’ mess and soon rages out of control. It reaches the bridge and threatens the hold containing the remaining torpedoes. At 0312, the ship’s bow is hit by two bombs and the rate of sinking increases. At about 0500, Captain Tamaki orders the flag lowered, then orders Abandon Ship. The survivors, including Tamaki, reach the base of the 85th Submarine Base Unit. 16 passengers and one crewman are KIA as is a civilian from the staff of the Nippon Yusen Co. 25 men are wounded.

At 0930, Grumman TBF "Avenger" torpedo bombers from USS BUNKER HILL (CV-17) attack the still burning HEIAN MARU. She is hit on the port side amidships by a torpedo that causes her to capsize to port. She sinks at 07-23N, 151-52E. HEIAN MARU comes to rest on her port beam in about 110 feet of water. [1]

During the raids, TF 58 sinks 31 merchant transports and 10 naval vessels (two light cruisers, four destroyers and four auxiliary vessels including HEIAN MARU), destroys nearly 200 aircraft and damages severely about 100 more. Truk is eliminated as a major fleet anchorage for the IJN.

31 March 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors’ Note:
The third sister of HEIAN MARU, the HIKAWA MARU is currently preserved at Yamashita Water Park, Yokohama City.

[1] It is probable that the aircraft that attacked HEIAN MARU on 17 and 18 February were from USS YORKTOWN (CV-10) and USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) in addition to those from USS BUNKER HILL.

Thanks go to Steve Eckardt of Australia, and to Toda Gengoro of Japan for information in Revision 3 and to John Whitman for information in Revision 6 and to Mr Gilbert Casse of France for general assistance.

Photo credit goes to Gilbert Casse of France.

- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

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