(Sister SHINSEI MARU No. 1, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2016 Bob Hackett

Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Shipyard Co., Ltd. as Yard No. 432, a 5,857-ton passenger-cargo ship for Kokusei Kisen (International Steamship Co., Ltd.), K. K., Tokyo.

Launched and named RYUFUKU MARU.

January 1919:

June 1921:
Chartered to the Northern Grain & Warehouse Co., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

20 July 1921:
RYUFUKU MARU is disabled off Sand Island (possibly Hawaii?) and looses both anchors.

23 August 1923:
Arrives at Kobe from Astoria, Oregon.


Sold to Oginuno Kaisho K. K., Fushiki.

Sold to Nissan Kisen K. K., Tokyo. Renamed HITERU MARU.

8 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Allotted IJA No. 456.

16 December 1941: The Occupation of Davao, Mindanao, Philippines:
HITERU 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 Army. 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, 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 16 Infantry Division’s heavy weapons company of the 33th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Battalion and two engneer platoons of the 56th Infantry Division. Two AA and one signals regiment are stationed on the IJA transports. The invasion units are embarked on eight IJA transports: HITERU, HANKOW, HAVANA, KANKO, KURETAKE, LIVERPOOL, TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG) and YAMAZUKI MARUs.

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. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Irifune Naosaburo's (39) Invasion Unit consists of his 32st Special Base Force aboard TONAN MARU No 2, elements of 103rd Aerial Field Repair Shop and a detachment of 3rd Munitions Unit aboard KINUGASA MARU, a company of the No. 1 Kure Special Naval Force (SNLF) aboard AMAGISAN MARU, 2nd Construction Unit Rgt aboard TAITO MARU and 3rd Construction Unit Rgt aboard KOSHIN MARU. Other transports are EIKO MARU No. 2 GO, KIRISHIMA, TATSUKAMI and TENRYU MARUs carrying equipment and material for the future Davao and Jolo airbases.

The convoy’s 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 convoy is subdivided in three divisions:
1st subdivision: IJA transport YAMATSUKI MARU and IJN transports AMAGISAN, KINUGASA, KIRISHIMA and TAITO, MARUs.
2nd subdivision: IJA transports TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG) (carrying elements of the 3rd Munitions Unit & the 103rd Aerial Field Repair Shop) and KURETAKE MARUs and IJN transports TENRYU MARU and TONAN MARU No. 2 escorted by minelayer SHIRATAKA and destroyers AMATSUKAZE and OYASHIO.
3rd subdivision: IJA transports HANKOW and HAVANA MARUs and IJN transports TATSUKAMI and KOSHIN MARUs and EIKO MARU No. 2 GO. At 1600, that same day, the 3rd subdivision departs Palau.

17 December 1941: At 0700, the 2nd subdivision departs Palau.

17 December 1941:
At 1300, the 1st subdivision departs Palau.

19 December 1941:
200 miles E of Davao. In the afternoon, RYUJO launches six planes to attack the radio station at Cape San Augustin, at the eastern tip of Davao Gulf, while seaplane carrier CHITOSE launches planes to reconnoiter Davao.

20 December 1941:
The transports arrive off Davao after midnight. At 0145, the 1st subdivision arrives at Tibungko Anchorage (15 km NNE of Davao). At 0320, the 3rd subdivision arrives at Talomo Anchorage (6 km SW of Davao). At 0440, the 2nd subdivision arrives at Tibungko Anchorage At 0500, troops of LtCol Miura Toshio's 33rd Infantry Regiment's detachment, covered by RYUJO's aircraft, begin landing in the northern section of Davao while elements of the Sakaguchi Detachment come ashore along the coast SW of the city. Resistance by the garrison of some 3,500 Filipino-American troops is quickly overcome and, by 1500 that same day, Davao and its airfield are occupied. That evening, a seaplane base is established S of the city.

6 January 1942: The Invasion of Tarakan, Dutch Borneo:
At 1100, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto´s (39) Tarakan Occupation Force Convoy departs Daliao (13 km SW of Davao). The convoy is organized into two subdivisions:
1st subdivision (right wing unit) consists of IJA), HITERU (IJA), HANKOW (IJA), EHIME (IJA), KANO (IJN), KUNIKAWA (IJN) LIVERPOOL and TSURUGA (IJA), (MARUs and transports the Sakaguchi Detachment (right wing forces) and the Kure No. 2 SNLF.
2nd subdivision (left wing unit) consists of HAVANA (IJA), KURETAKE (IJA), KAGU (IJN), KUNITSU(IJN), NICHIAI (IJA),and RAKUTO (IJN) TEIRYU (IJA), MARUs and transports the Sakaguchi Detachment (left wing forces), 5th Construction Unit and 2nd Defense Unit.

10 January 1942:
At 1900, both subdivisions arrive at No. 1 Anchorage. At 2215, the 2nd subdivision including TEIRYU 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: The Invasion of Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo:
At 1700, the Balikpapan Invasion Force Convoy departs Tarakan. The convoy is organized into two subdivisions:
1st subdivision consists of HITERU, ASAHISAN (IJN), EHIME (IJA) MARUs (Sakaguchi Detachment), LIVERPOOL (IJA), KUMANOGAWA (IJN) (1st Base Force Auxiliary Ammunition Ship), NITTEI (IJN) (2nd Construction Unit) and SUMANOURA (IJN) (1st Base Force Auxiliary Netlayer) and TSURUGA MARUs (IJA).
2nd subdivision consists of FUJIKAGE (TOEI) MARU (IJN) (1st Defense Unit), HAVANA (IJA), HANKOW (IJA), and KURETAKE (IJA) MARUs (Sakaguchi Detachment), KANAYAMASAN MARU (IJN) (2nd Construction Unit), NANA (IJN) (11th Air Fleet Transport) and TEIRYU (IJA)MARUs.

19 February 1942: The Invasion of Eastern Java:
At 0800, the 39 transport ships of the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy departs from Jolo Anchorage.

22 February 1942:
At 1200, EHIME and LIVERPOOL MARUs join the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy north of Aru Bank. The same day, HITERU and TEIRYU MARUs depart from Palau carrying elements of the Sakaguchi Detachment.

23 February 1942:
HITERU and TEIRYU MARUs join the Eastern Java Invasion Convoy.

1 March 1942:
At 0120, 100 miles W of Surabaya, Java. The Eastern Java Invasion Force enters the roadstead off Kragan village, East Java. Just before dropping anchor, the ships are fiercely attacked from the air. JOHORE MARU is hit and suffers many KIA and WIA. TOKUSHIMA MARU is also hit and has to beach herself at 0200. Despite the air attacks, the convoy lands the IJA's 48th Infantry Division at Kragan village.

2 June 1942: Departs Mako in convoy No. 218 also consisting of FUKKAI, SHUNKO, KANTO, GENMEI and HITERU MARUs, DAIGEN MARU No. 8 and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by auxiliary gunboat PEKING MARU.

8 June 1942:
Arrives at Mutsure.

28 December 1942:
At 2000, HITERU MARU departs Rabaul for Palau in an unidentified convoy also consisting of three unidentified cargo ships and two unidentified escorts.

30 December 1942:
180 miles northeast of Manus, Admiralties. LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Henry C.Bruton's (USNA '26) USS GREENLING (SS-213) attacks the convoy. At about 2300, Bruton torpedoes and hits HITERU MARU. She breaks in two and sinks at 00-41N, 148-52´E. 15 crew are KIA.

31 December 1942:
At 0400, minesweeper W-20 departs Rabaul to rescue survivors of HITERU MARU.

Author's Note:
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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