KAIBOKAN!

(Type C Escort by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

IJN Escort Hirado:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2006-2014 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall

Revision 3


2 November 1942:
Osaka. Laid down at Hitachi Zosen Co. Ltd.’s Sakurajima yard as kaibokan No. 318.

25 May 1943:
Named HIRADO.

30 June 1943:
Launched.

28 September 1943:
Completed and registered in the Yokosuka Naval District. Cdr Segawa Iwao is the Commanding Officer. Assigned to the Yokosuka Guard Unit. Escorts convoys to Muroran, Hokkaido.

1 November 1943:
Reassigned to the Fourth Fleet’s Second Marine Escort Division.

13 November 1943:
At 1100, departs Yokosuka for Truk with destroyer IKAZUCHI escorting convoy No. 3113 consisting of KENSHO, KIMISHIMA, YAMAKUNI, SHOEI and TSUNESHIMA MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 18.

24 November 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

5 December 1943:
At 1105, HIRADO departs Truk with auxiliary sub-chaser TAKUNAN MARU No. 8 escorting convoy No. 4205B consisting of SOYO and AKIBASAN MARUs.

7 December 1943:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Ralph M. Metcalf's (USNA ’35) USS POGY (SS-266) torpedoes and sinks SOYO MARU and damages AKIBASAN MARU. Casualties on SOYO MARU are 35 crewmen KIA and an unknown number of Civilian refugees. AKIBASAN MARU is escorted separately to Saipan by TAKUNAN MARU No. 8. HIRADO searches for the submarine and then joins convoy No. 4205A consisting of submarine tender YASUKUNI MARU and fleet supply ship IRAKO as added escort with kaibokan MIKURA.

10 December 1943:
The convoy arrives at Saipan.

12 December 1943:
Departs Saipan.

20 December 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

25 December 1943:
At 0700 departs Yokosuka escorting convoy No. 3225 consisting of KATSURAGISAN and MATSUTAN MARUs. The convoy sails at 7 knots.

6 January 1944:
Arrives at Truk. Soon after arriving, at 0513 KATSURAGISAN MARU strikes a defensive mine and sinks.

11 January 1944:
At 0500, HIRADO, destroyer SHIRATSUYU and subchaser CH-29 depart Truk escorting convoy No. 7125 consisting of HAKUSAN, HAKOZAKI, KIMISHIMA and MITAKESAN MARUs.

21 January 1944:
At 1630, arrives at Yokosuka.

25 January 1944:
At 0700, departs Yokosuka for Truk with kaibokan ISHIGAKI and subchaser CH-52 escorting convoy 3125A consisting of REIYO, TAMASHIMA and HANAGAWA MARUs.

30 January 1944:
At 1000, LtCdr (later Cdr) Joseph W. Williams' (USNA ’33) USS SPEARFISH (SS-190) torpedoes TAMASHIMA MARU. At 2205, Williams again torpedoes TAMASHIMA MARU. In this second attack her ammunition cargo explodes and she sinks instantly at 21-12N, 149-18E taking down four men. HIRADO drops 46 depth-charges, but USS SPEARFISH escapes undamaged.

7 February 1944:
Arrives at Truk.

9 February 1944:
HIRADO departs Truk escorting unnumbered (return leg of outbound convoy no. 3125A) now consisting of REIYO and HANAKAWA MARUs.

12 February 1944:
Arrives at Saipan.

12 March 1944:
At 0400, HIRADO departs Tokyo Bay for Saipan with light cruiser TATSUTA, destroyers NOWAKE, ASAKAZE, YUNAGI, UZUKI, minesweeper W-20 and minelayers SOKUTEN and KYOSAI escorting the Higashi-Matsu ("East Pine") No. 2 troop reinforcement convoy that arrives from Pusan, Korea. The convoy consists of TAKAOKA, HIBI, TAJIMA, MIHO, AWA, DAITEN, RYUKA, TAMAHOKO, KOKUYO, TSUSHIMA and ATLANTIC MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1.

13 March 1944:
At 0310, LtCdr Malcom E. Garrison’s (USNA ’32) USS SANDLANCE (SS-381) fires four stern torpedoes at the convoy. Two hit and sink TATSUTA 40 miles NNE of Hachijo-Jima. TATSUTA's crew fights the flooding for seven hours, but takes on a seven degree list to port. By 1040, the aft part of the upper deck is awash. The flooding is temporarily halted, but begins again. At 1415, TATSUTA takes on a starboard list, so her crew is ordered to shift all weight to port. By 1510, her stern is settling faster and the starboard list is increasing slowly. At 1536, the list is 60 degrees starboard, and the cruiser is rapidly sinking. Seconds later, she goes down by the stern at 32-52N, 139-12E. Twenty-six men are KIA, 10 wounded. Destroyers NOWAKI and UZUKI rescue her survivors including Captain Shimazui Takemi (47) (former XO of light cruiser YUBARI) and ComDesRon 11, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Takama Tamotsu (41) (former CO of battleship HARUNA).

The other two torpedoes hit and sink KOKUYO MARU carrying 1,029 troops. 43 of the crew and 679 troops on board are KIA. USS SANDLANCE undergoes an 18-hour attack by the escorts. Garrison takes USS SANDLANCE to 550-feet and escapes 105 depth-charges set to detonate at 250-feet. HIRADO rescues KOKUYO MARU's survivors and returns to Tokyo Bay while the convoy continues on to Saipan arriving on 19 March.

22 March 1944:
Tokyo Bay. HIRADO departs Tokyo Bay for Saipan and Palau with light cruiser YUBARI, DesDiv 5's HATAKAZE, DesDiv 6's IKAZUCHI and DesDiv 32's TAMANAMI, torpedo boat OTORI, kaibokan NOMI and subchasers CH-48, CH-51 and CH-54 escorting troop reinforcement convoy Higashi-Matsu No. 3 consisting of supply ship HAYASAKI and KOJUN, MEIRYU, TATSUURA, KENAN, TOMITSU, CHOHAKUSAN and NANYO MARUs and HOSHI MARU No. 11 and NISSEI MARU No. 1.

25 March 1944:
The convoy is attacked by LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Bafford E. Lewellen's (USNA ’31) old USS POLLACK (SS-180). Lewellen torpedoes and sinks subchaser CH-54 and claims damage to several transports.

30 March 1944:
Arrives at Saipan.

28 May 1944:
HIRADO departs Manila for Yulin with minelayer SHIRATAKA and auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU escorting convoy MAYU-02 consisting of ATLAS MARU and five unidentified merchant ships.

1 June 1944:
Arrives at Yulin.

3 June 1944:
HIRADO departs Yulin with minelayer SHIRATAKA and auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU and three unidentified warships escorting convoy TE-06A consisting of ATLAS, TATSUURA, TOYOOKA, MANKO, YAMADORI MARUs and five unidentified merchant ships.

13 June 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

June 1944:
At Sasebo, probably for repairs and maintenance.

20 June 1944:
At 1930, HIRADO departs Moji for Singapore with destroyers ASAGAO and KURETAKE and kaibokan KURAHASHI and CD-2, CD-5 and CD-13, minelayer SHIRATAKA and sub-chaser CH-61 escorting convoy HI-67 consisting of transports MANJU, NANKAI, KINUGASA, ASAKA, ASAHISAN, GOKOKU and HAKOZAKI MARUs and oilers MIRI, OTORISAN, NICHINAN No. 2, SARAWAK and SHINEI MARUs.

29 June 1944:
LtCdr Anton R. Gallaher's (USNA ’33) USS BANG (SS-385) torpedoes and damages MIRI and SARAWAK MARUs. Both tankers are hit in the bow, but each manages to proceed to Manila.

E2 July 1944:
The main convoy arrives at Manila.

3 July 1944:
At 0600, HI-67 departs Manila, less GOKOKU, ASAHISAN, SARAWAK and MIRI MARUs.

9 July 1944:
Arrives at Singapore at 1640.

14 July 1944:
At 0730, HIRADO departs Singapore for Moji via Manila with minelayer SHIRATAKA and kaibokan KURAHASHI, CD-13, CD-20 and CD-28 escorting convoy HI-68 consisting of transports KIYOKAWA and MANILA MARUs and tankers TOA, SHIMPO, NICHINAN No. 2, TOHO and OTORISAN MARUs.

20 July 1944:
At 1300, arrives at Manila.

24 July 1944:
At 0600, HIRADO (F) departs Manila for Moji with escort carrier KAIYO, kaibokan KURAHASHI, ISHIGAKI, KUSAGAKI, MIKURA, CD-11, CD-20 and torpedo boat HIYODORI escorting convoy HI-68. The convoy sails in three columns consisting of IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU, oilers OTORISAN MARU and NICHINAN MARU No. 2 and escort carrier TAIYO in column No. 1; IJA landing ship KOZU MARU (a.k.a. TAKATSU MARU) and transports TOSAN, KASHII, NISSHO and AKI MARUs in column No. 2 and KIYOKAWA MARU and oilers ITSUKUSHIMA, TOA, TOHO and SHIMPO MARUs in column No. 3.

The ships steam at 11.5 knots, the average speed for "HI" series convoys. A three-submarine wolf pack of Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Reuben Whitaker’s (USNA ’34) USS FLASHER, LtCdr Franklin Hess’s (USNA ’35) USS ANGLER (SS-240) and LtCdr Francis D. Walker’s (USNA ’35) USS CREVALLE (SS-291) tracks the convoy.

25 July 1944:
Off NW Luzon. At 1540, transports AKI and TOSAN MARUs succesfully evade an attack by USS CREVALLE.

26 July 1944:
Off Luzon. TOSAN MARU, AKI MARU and OTORISAN MARUs are sunk and KIYOKAWA MARU is damaged in attacks by the wolfpack. 46 men aboard OTORISAN MARU are KIA. On AKI MARU some 24 passengers are killed as are 14 gunners, and 3 crewmen; a total of 41 dead.

27 July 1944:
At 1100, arrives at Takao.

28 July 1944:
At 1800, departs Takao.

3 August 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

10 August 1944:
HIRADO departs Imari Bay for Singapore as flagship of 6th Escort Convoy’s Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi (former CO of KISO) with destroyers FUJINAMI and YUNAGI, kaibokan KURAHASHI, MIKURA, SHONAN and CD-11 and escort carrier TAIYO escorting convoy HI-71 consisting of oilers AZUSA, TEIYO, EIYO, ZUIHO, AMATSU, KYOKUTO and NIYO MARUs and HAKKO MARU No. 2, fleet oiler HAYASUI, food-supply ship IRAKO, transports TEIA (ex French ARAMIS), AWA, NOTO, HOKKAI, NOSHIRO and MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ships TAMATSU and MAYASAN MARUs and cargo ships KASHII, NISSHO and ORYOKU MARUs.

15 August 1944:
HI-71 arrives at Mako, Pescadores. HAKKO and ORYOKU MARUs and IRAKO are detached.

17 August 1944: Operation "SHO-1-GO" (Victory) - The Defense of the Philippines:
At 0800, in typhoon weather, convoy HI-71 sorties from Mako for Manila. Old destroyer ASAKAZE and kaibokan SADO, MATSUWA and HIBURI arrive from Takao and ETOROFU from Saei, on the orders of 1st Surface Escort Division to strengthen HI-71's escort forces.

Two hours after leaving NIYO MARU suffers engine problems and returns to Mako.

18 August 1944:
At 0524, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Louis D. McGregor's (USNA ’30) USS REDFISH (SS-395) torpedoes and damages EIYO MARU. ASAKAZE and YUNAGI are detached to escort her back to Takao.

Off Cape Bolinao, Luzon. At 2210, LtCdr (later Captain) Henry G. Munson's (USNA ’32)USS RASHER (SS-269) torpedoes and sinks oiler TEIYO MARU in a surface radar attack. 41 crewmen and 58 passengers are KIA. At 2222, Munson torpedoes and sinks carrier TAIYO. Because of the fire and speed of sinking, most of her crew are lost and about 790 passengers perish; but by some miracle, Captain Sugino Shuichi (46) is among the just over 400 surviving crew and passengers. At 2310, Munson torpedoes TEIA MARU (ex French ARAMIS) with three torpedoes using radar bearings. The ex-French liner is set afire and sinks. TEIA MARU was carrying 4,795 Army and 427 civilians. 2,316 troops, 275 passengers, six guards, four gunners, 10 special lookouts, and 54 crewmen are KIA.

19 August 1944:
The convoy splits into two groups. At 0033, LtCdr Munson’s (USNA ’32) USS RASHER puts two torpedoes into the port sides of AWA and NOSHIRO MARUs. Both ships beach themselves near Port Currimao. LtCdr (later Cdr) Charles M. Henderson's (USNA ’34) USS BLUEFISH (SS-222) and LtCdr (later Captain) Gordon W. Underwood's (USNA ’32) USS SPADEFISH (SS-411) join in the attack on HI-71. At 0320, BLUEFISH hits and sinks HAYASUI. Captain Sugiura Keizaburo (49) is KIA. He is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously. The number of survivors is unknown. USS SPADEFISH hits TAMATSU MARU with two torpedoes and the big IJA landing craft depot ship rolls over and takes down 4,755 troops and 135 crewmen. HI-71 makes for San Fernando.

E 23 August 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

25 August 1944:
At 1650, HIRADO (F) departs Manila for Singapore with destroyer FUJINAMI, kaibokan KURAHASHI, MIKURA, CD-11 and subchaser CH-28 escorting convoy HI-71 consisting of AZUSA, KYOKUTO, HOKKAI, ZUIHO, KYOKUHO and AWA MARUs. At 1845, KYOKUHO MARU develops engine trouble and drops behind escorted by FUJINAMI. Later, they rejoin the convoy.

1 September 1944:
At 1356, arrives at Singapore.

6 September 1944:
At 0630, HIRADO (F) departs Singapore for Moji with destroyer SHIKINAMI and kaibokan MIKURA, KURAHASHI, CD-11 and auxiliary subchaser CHa-19 escorting convoy HI-72 consisting of ASAKA, NANKAI, KIMIKAWA, RAKUYO, ZUIHO, KIBITSU and KACHIDOKI MARU (ex-PRESIDENT HARRISON). RAKUYO MARU carries 1,317 POWs and KACHIDOKI MARU carries 900 POWs.

12 September 1944:
At 0200, Cdr Thomas B. Oakey’s (USNA ’34) USS GROWLER (SS-215), torpedoes HIRADO. She blows up and sinks at 17-54N, 114-49E. Cdr Segawa and 106 sailors are KIA. Rear Admiral Kajioka, victor of Wake Island, is also KIA. He is promoted Vice Admiral, posthumously.

At 0531, LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Eli Reich’s (USNA ’35) USS SEALION II (SS-315) torpedoes RAKUYO MARU but she stays afloat for another 13 hours, sinking at 1830 that evening. She is carrying 1,318 Allied POWs (601 British, 716 Australian and several US POWs), of whom 1,159 are lost. At about 0700, SHIKINAMI is torpedoed by GROWLER and sinks 240 miles S of Hong Kong at 18-16 N, 114-40 E. MIKURA rescues eight officers and 120 men. At 2254, KACHIDOKI MARU with 950 Allied POWs aboard is hit by LtCdr Paul E. Summers’ (USNA ’36) USS PAMPANITO (SS-383) at 19-25N, 112-23E. At 2337, she founders and 12 sailors and 476 passengers (including 431 POWs) are lost with her. USS PAMPANITO also sinks ZUIHO MARU with no survivors. The Japanese rescue a few POWs from the two prison ships. The survivors are transferred to KIBITSU MARU.

The Japanese rescue a few POWs who are transferred to KIBITSU MARU and taken to Japan. American submarines later return to the scene and rescue 159 survivors of whom seven die enroute to Saipan. In all, 92 Australian and 60 British ex-POWs survive.

At 0840, USN codebreakers intercept a message from unknown Japanese station that says, “Have rescued survivors of HIRADO (survivors include the staff and 26 men plus 74 crew members. Captain of HIRADO killed in action ---.”

10 November 1944:
Removed from the Navy List. Cdr Segawa is promoted Captain, posthumously.


Authors' Note:
Thanks for assistance go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan and Gilbert Casse of France. Thanks also go to Mr. Aki of Japan and Matthew Jones of Ohio for help in identifying kaibokan COs.

Thanks also go to John Whitman for info on USN intercepts of IJN messages.

-Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.


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