Tokusetsu-Kosakubu

(United States Navy Yard, Cavite, Philippines, prewar)

History of the IJN's No. 103 Naval Working Department at Cavite, Philippines
by Bob Hackett

© 2016-2017 Bob Hackett


Cavite Navy Yard, located in Manila Bay, the Philippines, was the United States Navy's only ship repair facility in the western Pacific before World War II. Caviteís facilities included a dry dock, submarine and torpedo repair shops, magazines, barracks, mess halls and other facilities.Two small boat piers on the Manila waterfront were used for the landing of liberty parties from the many ships that anchored in the deep and extensive harbor at Manila.

There were also several outlying activities set apart geographically from the yard. Among them was the fuel depot at Sangley Point, a small peninsula extending into Manila Bay. Early in 1941, the United States government began planning a seaplane base at Sangley Point for patrol activities. Plans were approved on 10 April 1941 and called for construction of a seaplane ramp, extension of the existing seaplane runways; erection of a seaplane hangar, a utility shop, an assembly and repair shop, engine-test shop; construction of a power plant and distribution system, fuel storage facilities, magazines, a fire protection system, barracks, mess halls and other facilities. Work continued on these projects until Christmas Eve, 1941, when Manila was declared undefended.

Map showing Manila, Cavite and Sangley Point and Subic Bay, Olongapo and Mariveles, Philippines

Olongapo, on Subic Bay, was the site of a small United States naval base. At the naval station were officers, shops, a naval radio station, and Marine barracks. Near Olongapo, the "Dewey" floating drydock USS Dewey (YFD-1) Yard Floating Dry-dock , named for Admiral Dewey of Spanish - American war fame, was moored in Subic Bay. Built in 1905 by the Maryland Steel Co., at Sparrow Point, Md., she was to built handle fleet repairs of its largest ships of the time. She was 18,500 tons and 501' 3/4" long, 100' wide and 37' tall and could accommodate a 20,000-ton battleship. The Dewey dry-dock was operated by the Cavite Navy Yard,

On 22 July 1941, the Dewey dry-dock, which had served at Subic Bay for 35 years, was towed from Olongapo to Mariveles harbor on the tip of the Bataan Peninsula .

On 24 December 1941, in Japan's ďMĒ Operation (M Sakusen), an Invasion Convoy carrying the bulk of LtGen Homma Masaharu's 80,000-man 14th Army began landing troops at Lingayen Gulf.

On 2 January 1942, after General Douglas MacArthur declared Manila an "open city" to prevent its desruction, the Japanese quickly occupied Manila. The former Cavite Navy Yard was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). The Japanese used the former USN 6th Naval District HQ as their headquarters. The IJN No. 103 Naval Working Department was established under Rear Admiral/Eng Tsuda Katsuji (21) who was appointed Director on 15 December 1941 and served at Cavite from 2 January 1942 to 5 October 1942.

In 1942, the Director had a staff of an unknown number of naval officers (engineers, technical and administration), ratings and uniformed technicians. The dockyard also had an unknown number of Filipino workers, who at that time were employed repairing damage caused by Japanese bombers and by the retreating U.S.Navy. Later, the Japanese used the yard for small boat repair. Among the warships that received repairs at the IJN No. 102 Naval Working Department in 1942 were PARAN MARU, and river patrol boat USS LUZON (PR-7) refloated, repaired and renamed IJN KARATSU. Philippine Islands' customs cruiser ARAYAT, captured in Jan '42, was also fitted and reconstructed at Cavite.

On 8 April 1942, the "Dewey" floating drydock was scuttled at Mariveles, on orders of LtGen Jonathan Wainwright, who succeeded MacArthur in February, to prevent its falling into Japanese hands. The dry dock was used near the Bataan Peninsula by forces serving under General MacArthur and later under LtGen Wainwright in the valiant defense of these vital positions which controlled the entrance to Manila Bay. Also in April 1942, minesweeper USS FINCH (AM-9), bombed by the Japanese, is grounded in shallow water off Corregidor. In May '42, the Japanese began to salvage USS FINCH.

During May-July 1942, USAMP (mine planter) HARRISON, bombed and scuttled off Corregidor in May, was refloated and towed to Cavite where she was repaired, reconditioned and renamed cable-layer IJN HARUSHIMA MARU.

On 6 September 1942, US Army tug HENRY KESWICK shelled and sunk off Corregidor in April, was refloated, repaired at Cavite by the IJNís No. 103 Naval Working Department and renamed KEISHU MARU. Repairs were completed and 20 April 1943, she was registered in the IJN as an auxiliary transport and attached to the Sasebo Naval District.

On 5 October 1942, Rear Admiral/Eng)(later Vice Admiral) Yamanaka Tomojiro (21) was appointed Director, No. 103 Naval Working Department and served until 25 September 1943. Rear Admiral/Eng) Hayakawa Kuraji (23) then served as Director.

In 1942, Manila Steamship Co.'s cargo ship ANAKAN, scuttled in the Pasig River near Manila in January, was refloated by the Japanese, underwent repairs by the IJNís No. 103 Naval Working Department at Cavite and renamed ANYO MARU. On 1 January 1943, she was registered in the IJN as an auxiliary transport and attached to the Maizuru Naval District . On 7 June 1944, she was re-assigned to the No. 102 Naval Working Department at Surabaya, Java (Indonesia).

In 1943, salvaged minesweeper USS FINCH (AM-9) was registered in the IJN as patrol boat PB-103 and underwent further hull repairs and reinforcement at Cavite and ex-Philippine Islands' customs cruiser was. registered in the Sasebo Naval District as patrol boat PB-105. Among other warships that received work at IJN No. 103 Naval Working Department in 1943 was the conversion of KEISHU MARU to an auxiliary transport and the conversion of transport SAN RAKU MARU (ex-decommissioned oiler USS SARA THOMPSON) to an oiler. Sometime in '43-'44, Fleet Tug USS GENESEE (AT-55), scuttled at Corregidor, to avoid capture in '42, was raised by men of the No. 103 Naval Working Department. The hulk then undewent repairs at Cavite.

In April 1944, ex-USS GENESEE was registered in the IJN as patrol boat PB-107. She underwent further repairs and modifications that year by the No. 103 Naval Working Department. Beginning in September 1944, Cavite Navy Yard was bombed by American carrier-based planes and the yard's facilities were badly damaged.

Also in 1944, among other warships that received repairs at Cavite was light cruiser KITAKAMI hit aft by two torpedoes fired British submarine HMS TEMPLAR in Jan' 44 in the Malacca Strait, Malaya, then towed to Singapore for emergency repairs at the IJN No. 101 Naval Working Department. KITAKAMI underwent repairs in Singapore from Feb to Jun '44. In Jul '44, while underway, she began to take on water in the area of her repairs and put into Cavite. She was drydocked and underwent further repairs by the No. 103 Naval Working Department. Later that month, she was undocked, but started to flood again, so was re-docked. In Aug, she finally departed Manila and arrived at Sasebo Navy Yard for further repairs and modification to a "kaiten" (human-torpedo) carrier.

IJN HA-58, a type C Hei-gata midget submarine, cruisers AOBA and NACHI and kaibokan OKINAWA and CD-11and oiler SARAWAK MARU also received repairs at Cavite. Repairs to tanker KYOKUTO MARU were intended to begin at a later date.

The Japanese raised the Dewey floating drydock and put her back into action at an unknown date, but on 12-13 November 1944, 13 Grumman TBM "Avengers" loaded with 2,000 lb torpedoes attacked the floating drydock from low level. Hit by at least four torpedoes, the drydock sank somewhere in Manila Bay.

Manila was recaptured by the United States Army on 23 February 1945. The Japanese left demolition charges at the installation. In March 1945, the area was liberated. Admiral Hayakawa survived the war and returned to Japan.


Questions to the author should be posted on the Discussion & Questions board.

-Bob Hackett


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