(OP TEN NOORT prewar, later HIKAWA MARU NO. 2)

IJN Hospital Ship HIKAWA MARU NO. 2:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 1998-2017 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

Revision 9

12 February 1927:
Amsterdam, Netherlands. Launched by the Nederlandse Scheepsbouw Mij and named OP TEN NOORT.

August 1927:
Completed for the Dutch Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (Royal Packet Steam Navigation Co.) and based at Batavia, Java, Netherlands East Indies. Call sign: PKEA.

9 November 1927:
Begins regular service between Singapore, Bangkok, Saigon, Manila, Maluku Islands Group (Moluccas), Bali and Batavia. In later years, OP TEN NOORT switches to the E coast of Java, Muntok, Singapore and Belawan Deli service. On all of these routes, she serves in tandem with her sister ship, PLANCIUS

8 December 1941:
Surabaya, Java. Requisitioned by the Royal Netherlands Navy. Begins remodelling to a hospital ship.

22 January 1942:
The Dutch inform the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs via the Swedish embassy in Tokyo of OP TEN NOORT's status as a hospital ship.

4 February 1942:
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Naval Ministry acknowlege OP TEN NOORT's status via the Swedish embassy.

19 February 1942:
Surabaya Naval Yard. Installation of hospital equipment is completed.

21 February 1942:
Western fairway of Surabaya. OP TEN NOORT is bombed on two occasions while leaving Surabaya for the Java Sea. The ship takes a direct hit by a Japanese bomb aft. Bomb splinters from near misses kill a Dutch surgeon and a nurse and a medical analyst dies the following day of wounds. Eleven others are wounded.

OP TEN NOORT begins bomb damage repairs that last a week.

27 February 1942: The Battle of the Java Sea:
CruDiv 5's NACHI and the HAGURO, DesRon 2's JINTSU with DesDivs 7 and 16's eight destroyers and DesRon 4's light cruiser NAKA and her six destroyers engage Dutch Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman's (former CO of CL SUMATRA) Strike Force's light cruiser HNMS DE RUYTER, cruisers HMS EXETER, USS HOUSTON (CA-30), light cruisers HMAS PERTH, HNMS JAVA, destroyers HMS ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, JUPITER, HNMS KORTENAER and WITTE de WITH and old destroyers USS ALDEN (DD-211), JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD-216), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and PAUL JONES (DD-230).

During the next two days, IJN surface units, aircraft and mines sink DE RUYTER, JAVA, KORTENAER, HOUSTON, PERTH and the EXETER and the destroyers KORTENAER, JUPITER, ELECTRA, ENCOUNTER, EVERTSEN and USS POPE (DD-225). [1]

28 February 1942:
Surabaya. At 0100, Dutch Naval authorities receive a message from HMAS PERTH that DE RUYTER and JAVA are disabled. About 0600, Captain G. Tuizinga of OP TEN NOORT is ordered to steam urgently to rescue survivors, but she is intercepted by a Japanese light cruiser and two destroyers a few hours after she departs. A Dutch aircraft reports OP TEN NOORT being escorted by two Japanese destroyers, probably AMATSUKAZE and MURASAME. She is then ordered to anchor off Bawean Island until 1200 the next day. [2]

1 March 1942:
OP TEN NOORT is escorted to Bandjermasin, Borneo by AMATSUKAZE.

3 March 1942:
Destroyer USHIO transfers to OP TEN NOORT about 60 PoW survivors of USS PERCH (SS-176) sunk that same day in the Java Sea. [3]

4 March 1942:
OP TEN NOORT, nominally under the Dutch flag, but under Japanese orders departs Bandjermasin carrying 970 Allied prisoners-of-war, including about 800 survivors from EXETER sunk in the Battle of the Java Sea. [3]

5 March 1942:
Arrives at Makassar, Celebes. Discharges POWs. For the next eight months, OP TEN NOORT serves as a hospital facility for POW camps in the area.

5 June 1942:
OP TEN NOORT is renamed TENNO MARU (Emperor Circle). She is operated by the Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Co. Line.

16 October 1942:
Makassar. The Dutch flag is hauled down and replaced with a Japanese flag.

23 November 1942:
Departs Makassar under an unknown Japanese Captain.

5 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama. The remaining Dutch crew and medical staff (15 women and 29 men) are disembarked. The Dutch are sent to a camp in Mijoshi (75 kilometres NW of Yokohama). The 35 Javanese crew members still on board are sent to another unknown camp.

20 December 1942:
TENNO MARU is commissioned in the IJN as a specially installed hospital ship and assigned to the Yokosuka Naval District.

January 1943:
Yokohama. Begins conversion at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. shipyard. Hospital facilities, nurses' accommodation, a derrick and smokestack alterations are carried out.

31 March 1943:
Completes conversion and equipment construction. Assigned directly to the Combined Fleet in the Yokosuka Naval District. Captain (Surgeon) Endo Haruo is appointed medical director of TENNO MARU.

25 April 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Rabaul and Truk.

10 June 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka

27 June 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Rabaul and Truk.

31 July 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

9 August 1943:
Departs Sasebo for Rabaul and Truk.

22 September 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

30 September 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk.

2 November 1943:
Departs Truk.

5 November 1943:Carrier Raid on Rabaul.
Aircraft from Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Frederick C. Sherman’s Task Force 38 raid Rabaul. Dive bombers from the USS SARATOGA (CV-3) and the PRINCETON (CVL-23) damage CruDiv 4’s ATAGO, TAKAO and MAYA and CruDiv 7’s CHIKUMA and MOGAMI, light cruisers AGANO and NOSHIRO and destroyers AMAGIRI and FUJINAMI.

TENNO MARU arrives at Rabaul. Tends to wounded and departs later that day.

15 November 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

17 November 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

19 November 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

23 November 1943:
Arrives at Yokohama. Drydocked.

1 December 1943:

December 1943:
Captain (Surgeon) Shimizu Masayoshi is appointed medical director of TENNO MARU.

11 December 1943:
Departs Yokosuka

17 December 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

20 December 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

23 December 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

26 December 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

11 January 1944:
At 0555 departs Truk. Later that day arrives at Ponape.

12 January 1944:
Departs Ponape.

17 January 1944:
Arrives at Truk.

19 January 1944:
Departs Truk.

17-18 February 1944: American Operation "Hailstone" - The Attack on Truk:
Truk Lagoon. TENNO MARU is anchored on the leeward side of Dublon Island with auxiliary submarine tender HEIAN MARUcargo ship URAKAMI MARU and oiler TONAN MARU No. 3. At 0435 (JST) an air raid alarm is given and TENNO MARU turns on her bright lights illumunating the large red crosses painted on her white hull.

Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (former CO of HORNET, CV-8) 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.

That afternoon, a YORKTOWN (CV-10) TBF "Avenger" torpedo-bomber attacks a number of landing barges full of men off Fenfan Island that seem to be heading for TENNO MARU that is NW of Fenfan. The TBF bombs and blows up several barges.

18 February 1944:
During the raids, TF 58 sinks 31 merchant transports, two light cruisers, four destroyers and four auxiliary vessels, and destroys nearly 200 aircraft and damages severely about 100 more. Truk is eliminated as a major fleet anchorage for the IJN.

TENNO MARU departs Truk through the North Pass. Some Grumman SB2C dive-bomber pilots from the BUNKER HILL (CV-17) report AA fire coming from TENNO MARU.

19 February 1944:
Rear Admiral Nabeshima Shunsaku (former CO of MAYA), Chief of Staff, Fourth Fleet signals TENNO MARU to return to Truk as soon as possible and notes about 1,400 men are hospitalized including about 600 from the air attacks.

20 February 1944:
Arrives at Saipan.

21 February 1944:
Departs Saipan.

22 February 1944:
Arrives at Guam.

23 February 1944:
Departs Guam.

25 February 1944:
Arrives at Truk. Embarks wounded.

26 February 1944:
Departs Truk.

1 March 1944:
Arrives at Rabaul.

4 March 1944:
Departs Rabaul.

9 March 1944:
Arrives at Sasebo.

15 March 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka. Transfers to Yokohama where she is drydocked.

14 April 1944:
Undocked. Departs Yokohama. Arrives at Yokosuka.

16 April 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

19 April 1944:
Arrives at Sasebo.

22 April 1944:
Departs Sasebo.

27 April 1944:
Arrives at Palau.

28 April 1944:
Departs Palau.

1 May 1944:
Arrives at Guam.

2 May 1944:
Departs Guam. Arrives and departs Saipan later that day.

6 May 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka

18 May 1944:
Departs Yokosuka.

22 May 1944:
Arrives at Saipan.

24 May 1944:
Departs Saipan.

25 May 1944:
Arrives at Truk.

26 May 1944:
Arrives at Saipan.

27 May 1944:
Departs Saipan.

3 June 1944:
Arrives at Beppu.

5 June 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

6 June 1944:
Departs Kure.

24 June 1944:
Arrives at Hashirajima.

28 June 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

11 July 1944:
Departs Kure.

12 July 1944:
Bungo Suido. Cdr Frank C. Acker's new USS POMFRET (SS-391) contacts TENNO MARU. Acker correctly identifies her as a hospital ship and allows her to proceed in peace.

18 July 1944:
Arrives at Davao, Philippines.

25 July 1944:
Arrives at Palau and is damaged by strafing by aircraft of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 58.

29 July 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

1 August 1944:
Arrives at Singapore.

5 August 1944:
Departs Singapore.

11 August 1944:
Arrives at Saigon.

14 August 1944:
Departs Saigon.

19 August 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

20 August 1944:
Departs Manila and sails for Truk.

9 September 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

10 September 1944:
Departs Manila for Takao.

18 September 1944:
Departs Takao.

20 September 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

September-October 1944:
The TENNO MARU is remodelled to disguise her. A dummy smokestack funnel is erected.

October 1944:
Java Sea. Dutch Ltz I (LtCdr) Hendrikus A. W. Goossens' RNN submarine ZWAARDVISCH (ex-British HMS TALENT) sights TENNO MARU. The ship is painted white with a green stripe and carries red crosses - clearly a hospital ship. Goossens does not attack. Later that month, Allied codebreakers lose track of TENNO MARU and believe the ship hit a mine in the Makassar area.

25 October 1944:
The Japanese rename TENNO MARU as HIKAWA MARU NO. 2 to further disquise that she is the captured Dutch hospital ship OP TEN NOORT. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs notifies the Allied powers of the hospital ship status of HIKAWA MARU NO. 2.

27 October 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

1 November 1944:
At 0850 arrives at Takao and departs there at 1800.

3 November 1944:
Picks up 26 survivors from CHINZEI and ARABIA MARUs.

5 November 1944:
At 1300 arrives at Brunei, Borneo. Tends to Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo's fleet's wounded after the Battle of Leyte Gulf , including 55 wounded from the YAMATO and the ashes of 33 others KIA aboard the battleship.

6 November 1944:
At 1400 departs Brunei.

8 November 1944:
At 1730 arrives at Tarakan, Borneo. Probably refuels.

9 November 1944:
At 1000 departs Tarakan.

12 November 1944:
At 1200 arrives at Manila.

13 November 1944:
At 1300 departs Manila for Takao.

15 November 1944:
At 1210 arrives at Takao.

16 November 1944:
At 0630 departs Takao.

19 November 1944:
At 1810 arrives at Beppu.

22 November 1944:
At 1100 departs Beppu.

23 November 1944:
At 0950 arrives at Sasebo for repairs.

3 December 1944:
At 1430 departs Sasebo.

8 December 1944:
At 1500 arrives at Manila.

9 December 1944:
At 0600 departs later that day for Singapore.

13 December 1944:
At 1230 arrives at Singapore.

16 December 1944:
At 1200 departs Singapore.

23 December 1944:
At 1200 arrives, and at 2300, departs Takao.

27 December 1944:
At 1000 arrives at Sasebo

28 December 1944:
At 1100 drydocked for emergency repairs.

30 December 1944:
At 1400 undocked.

31 December 1944:
At 1400 departs Sasebo.

5 January 1945:
At 0930 arrives at Manila and departs later that same day at 2230.

10 January 1945:
At 1100 arrives at Singapore.

12 January 1945:
At 0900 departs Singapore but returns at 1740.

13 January 1945:
At sea off Malacca, Malaya. At 0800 arrives at Malacca.

19 January 1945:
At 0800 departs Malacca and at 1930 arrives at Singapore.

20 January 1945:
At 0940 departs Singapore.

26 January 1945:
Later arrives off Foochow (now Fuzhou).

30 January 1945:
At 0837 arrives at Beppu

1 February 1945:
At 1800 departs Beppu.

2 February 1945:
At 0930 arrives at Kure

17 February 1945:
At 0700 departs Kure and at 0855 arrives at Iwakuni. Departs Iwakuni at 1055 and anchors in Suo Nada at 2123.

18 February 1945:
At 0630 departs Suo Nada.

26 February 1945:
At 1230 arrives at Singapore.

27 February 1944:
HIKAWA MARU NO. 2 hits a mine in Singapore's roadstead, then departs roadstead at 0830 and arriving at 1930, undergoes emergency repairs at Seletar, Singapore.

14 March 1945:
At 1130 departs Singapore.

17 March 1945:
At 0955 arrives at Jakarta, Java.

20 March 1945:
At 0800 departs Jakarta.

22 March 1945:
At 1915 arrives at Macassar, Celebes.

23 March 1945:
At 1700 sdeparts Macassar.

25 March 1945:
At 2250 arrives at Ambon, Moluccas.

26 March 1945:
USN codebreakers at Fleet Radio Unit, Melbourne (FRUMEL), Australia intercept and decode a message that reads “No. 2 HIKAWA MARU with 397 patients on board left Ambon at 1000 the 26th. She will arrive Jakarta at 1000 the 31st. She is carrying 200 tons fuel oil to Jakarta in addition to the passengers."

31 March 1945:
At 0900 arrives at Jakarta.

2 April 1945:
At 1900 departs Jakarta.

3 April 1945:
At 1955 arrives off the Palembang river mouth, Durian Straits, Sumatra.

4 April 1945:
At 2027 arrives at Amphitrite Bay (Teluk Kualacenaku).

5 April 1945:
At 0900 departs Amphitrite Bay. At 1515 arrives at Seresan Is, Natunas.

6 April 1945:
At 0700 departs Seresan Islands.

14 April 1945:
At 0900 arrives off Foochow.

15 April 1945:
At 0600 departs off Foochow.

17 April 1945:
At 1800 arrives at Sasebo.

19 April 1945:
At 0600 departs Sasebo.

20 April 1945:
At 1600 arrives at Maizuru.

2 May 1945:
At 1550 drydocked for repairs.

14 May 1945:
Undocked. Captain (Surgeon) Satoshi Kamishiro is appointed medical director of HIKAWA MARU NO. 2.

3 June 1945:
At 0500 departs Maizuru for Sasebo.

5 June 1945:
At 1130 arrives at Sasebo.

7 June 1945:
At 1530 departs Sasebo.

15 June 1945:
At 1800 arrives at Seletar, Singapore.

17 June 1945:
At 1000 departs Seletar.

19 June 1945:
At 1000 arrives at Jakarta.

23 June 1945:
At 0800 departs Jakarta.

27 June 1945:
At 1730 arrives at Ambon.

28 June 1945:
At 0900 departs Ambon.

30 June 1945:
Eastern Java Sea. At 2230, LtCdr Benjamin C. Jarvis' USS BAYA (SS-318) makes an SJ radar contact, bearing 030 (T), range 29,400 yards. The contact is identified as a large hospital ship, properly marked and lighted, steering a steady course of 270 (T) at 14 knots. Jarvis closes to 12,000 yards and sends out a contact report to submarines in the Java Sea. At 2350, the USS BAYA loses contact at 33,000 yards. Jarvis notes in his Fifth Patrol Report that the hospital ship is believed to be HIKAWA MARU. [4]

2 July 1945:
Arrives at Jakarta.

3 July 1945:
Arrives at Singapore.

5 July 1945:
Arrives at Singapore.

7 July 1945:
Departs Singapore.

9 July 1945:
Arrives at Saigon.

11 July 1945:
Departs Saigon.

20 July 1945:
Arrives at Sasebo.

23 July 1945:
Departs Sasebo.

24 July 1945:
Arrives at Maizuru.

17 August 1945:
Orders are received from the Naval Ministry. That night HIKAWA MARU NO. 2 departs Maizuru's port for nearby Wakasa Bay. A naval party commanded by a Cdr Sato prepares the ship for scuttling and plants two 328-lb. explosive charges. The first is placed near the ship's bow on the starboard side of the foremast and the second is placed aft of the second (dummy) funnel. Fuses are lit. The party rows about 250 yards away and waits. The ship explodes and sinks in about 400 feet of water. [5]

15 September 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

Wakasa Bay, Maizuru. After receiving reports of fishing nets becoming snagged on an unknown wreck, the head of the department that governs the port area of Chinju Prefecture arranges for salvage investigations. That autumn, Mr. Shinta Koyua, a professional diver from Kyoto, dives and photographs the wreck allowing the ship to be identified.

The Dutch Government lodges a claim against the Japanese Government for 700 million yen as compensation for the loss of the ship. Later, this sum is revised downward to 200 million yen.

After protracted negotiations over many years, the Japanese Government pays compensation of 100 million yen to the Dutch Government.

Authors' Note:
[1] On 21 Feb 2007, a group of divers operating from MV EMPRESS out of Singapore, including Australian photo-journalist Kevin Denlay, locate the wrecks of British heavy cruiser HMS EXETER and destroyer HMS ENCOUNTER in the Java Sea. The two warships were found at a depth of about 60m/200ft, 90 miles north of Bawean Island, about 350 nautical miles from Sunda Strait. EXETER lays on her starboard. Her faithful consort ENCOUNTER rests about two miles away. About 50 of EXETER's crew were killed, while 650 were made prisoners of war. Of these, 152 died in Japanese PoW camps. About eight of ENCOUNTER's crew were killed and 149 were made PoWs, of whom 38 died in captivity.

[2] This account is drawn from Dutch sources as recounted by K.W.L. Bezemer in "Zij vochten op de zeven zeeën", p. 348 and Ph. M. Bosscher in "De Koninklijke Marine in de Tweede Wereldoorlog", part 2, p. 292. Dutch accounts conflict with that of Captain Hara Tameichi's description of the capture from his "Japanese Destroyer Captain", pp. 74-75. Hara claimed that his AMATSUKAZE captured OP TEN NOORT on 26 February 1942, two days before she actually left Surabaya.

[3] In Nov 2006, during a Java Sea expedition, a group of divers, operating from MV EMPRESS out of Singapore, including Australian photo-journalist Kevin Denlay, discover the wreck of USS PERCH (SS-176) lost on 3 Mar '42. She is far from her last reported position and rests in 190 feet of water. Photos and videos were taken of the builder’s plaque attached to the leading edge of the conning tower, clearly spelling out the name 'USS PERCH’ and other relevant launching info.

[4] Jarvis was mistaken. HIKAWA MARU was in drydock at Maizuru at the time.

[5] Controversy surrounds the scuttling. A plausible explanation of the scuttling is that since the Japanese Government had acknowledged OP TEN NOORT as a hospital ship, they were anxious to cover up their seizure of the ship, an act not allowed under international law, and sank the ship to avoid reprisals.

Treasure hunters maintain HIKAWA MARU NO. 2 arrived at Yokohama loaded with 2,000 metric tons of gold (i.e. about 64 million ounces), but instead of offloading, HIKAWA MARU NO. 2 steamed to Maizuru where she was loaded with more still more gold, plus platinum, diamonds and other gems. Allegedly, she was then taken out into Maizuru Bay by high ranking naval officers and scuttled. The story asserts that her Captain and 24 crewmen were then killed to preserve the secret. It is further claimed the ship was found in 1990 and treasure valued at $30 billion USD was recovered. (but the "story" never made the newspapers.)

The treasure story seems implausible and may be part of a scam. Although the ship may have been loaded with valuables from Singapore, it is logical to assume these were discharged either at Sasebo on 20 July or at Maizuru on 24 July. The claim the ship was carrying US $30 billion defies credulity.

Thanks go to Aldert Gritter/"Admiral Gurita" and Jan Visser/"Visje" of the Netherlands for information relating to the capture and treasure of OP TEN NOORT/HIKAWA MARU NO. 2. Thanks also go to Hans Mcilveen of the Netherlands for information about FRUMEL intercepts of Japanese messages.

- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

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