© 2016 Bob Hackett
In 1907, both the 552.5’ long Admiralty dry dock in Victoria, and the Taikoo Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. shipyard's 773.5’ long graving dock at Quarry Bay, capable of accommodating the largest ship then afloat, were commissioned. The private Taikoo dry dock was over a third longer than the Navy's. The No. 1 Admiralty Dock was eventually lengthened to about 699’ long. The TAMAR facilities were also improved and grew to such an extent that, in 1913 when the TAMAR hulk was routinely moved from its harbor buoy for a refit, it was returned to lie alongside the dockyard quays for the rest of its service as accommodation, storage and training space. After Britain's acquisition of the Kowloon Peninsula and neighboring Stonecutter Island, the Royal Navy established another dockyard on the Kowloon shore. In 1935, a navy marine radio station was built Stonecutter Island. On 1 December 1941, in view of the impending war situation, construction was stopped on the 6,816-ton cargo ship ready to be launched by Hong Kong's Taikoo Dockyard & Engineering Co. Ltd. for the British Ministry of War and named EMPIRE BLOSSOM. Her engines and boilers were removed and sent to Singapore, Malaya. On 8 December 1941, in Operation "C", the Japanese opened their offensive on the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong by moving troops across the New Territories frontier. On 25 December 1941, later known as "Black Christmas", MajGen Christopher M. Maltby, British Indian Army, General Officer Commanding (GOC) British Forces in China, arrived at Government House and advised Governor Young to surrender the outnumbered garrison because of lack of food and water. Young initially opposed a surrender, but after consultation with two civilian members of his Defence Council and further discussions with his naval and military commanders, the Governor authorized Maltby to arrange a cease-fire. At 1800, the Governor surrendered the Colony to IJA LtGen Sakai in the Peninsula hotel. That night, nearly 6,500 British and Commonwealth troops went into Japanese captivity. On 18 December 1941, the Japanese landed on the NE corner of Hong Kong Island and seized the Taikoo Dockyard before it could be destroyed. They captured minesweepers HMS TAITAM and WAGLAN (ex-HMS SEAFORD) under construction in the yard. HMS TAITAM and WAGLAN are later completed and registered in the IJN as minesweepers W-101 and W-102. Likewise, construction is later resumed by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding K.K. on EMPIRE BLOSSOM, now No. 303 ship. The construction used spare parts from within the shipyard. During the occupation, the Taikoo Dockyard was managed by Mitsui interests, and was known as the Hongkong Shipbuilding Yard.  On 26 December 1941, the Hong Kong and Whampoa shipyard was captured and the hulls of 6,854-ton cargo ships EMPIRE DRAGON, yard No. 847, and EMPIRE PAGODA, yard No.848, were seized. EMPIRE PAGODA was laid down on 6 December 1941 and was seized with only the keel plates and center girder completed. Also in December, the former Royal Naval Dockyard on Hong Kong Island was taken over by the IJN. The Royal Navy’s recreational China Fleet Club served as Japanese Naval HQ in Hong Kong during World War II. The IJN No.2 Naval Working Department was established under Rear Admiral/Eng Mizuno Eiichi (21) who was appointed as Director on 15 December 1941 and served from 30 December 1941 to 10 November 1942. Smaller shipyards that were in operation at Hong Kong from 1942 to 1945 included the Aberdeen Docks, under IJN control and renamed the Lamma Shipyard by the Fukuda Company, were controlled by the Kokoki Butei. The Tung Tai Shipbuilding Yard at Causeway Bay, together with Ah King´s Shipyard nearby, formed the No. 2 Branch of the Lamma Shipyard. Construction and repair of wooden auxiliary vessels were undertaken there. Other small shipyards included the Cosmopolitan Dock; Tsunan Shipyard; Bailey´s Shipyard; Kwong Hip Lung Shipyard (which became Dainichi Shipyard); Wing On Shing Shipyard that built and repaired wooden vessels, landing craft, launches and motor boats; the Fukui Shipyard, formerly known as the Ngauchiwan Shipyard, that constructed auxiliary wooden vessels and other small craft. Only the hulls were produced there, the engines were manufactured by the Hip Tung Wo Engineering Works in Tokwawan. In January 1942, the Imperial Army (IJA) contracted with Hitachi Zosen, K. K. to operate the former Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Co. shipyard. At its peak, the shipyard employed 10,000 workers. In 1942, among ships under construction at the Taikoo Dockyard were one torpedo boat, two minesweepers, three standard ships, four patrol boats, one tug, and customs cruiser FEI SHING. Repair work on other ships was carried out. Among ships under construction that year at the Kowloon Dockyard were four "Empire Class" ships laid down by British, plus Hsian Yiar Maru, Maya Maru, Tai Sun Maru, SS Ming Sang, SS Mau Lee, SS Monarch, two iron barges, twin funnel tugboat, Kin Wa Maru, Kin Shan, three Russian ships, Victory Maru, American Maru, Kinka Maru, Gyo Yat Maru, Gyo Yi Maru, Kasii Maru, Hin Sang. Among ships repaired in other Hong Kong yards in 1942 were transports ASOSAN and KINKA MARUs, oil tanker SHIN TAO MARU, patrol boat FUNSHIN, an unidentified Chinese customs cruiser and an unidentified, torpedoed, Chinese oil tanker. In March 1942, light cruiser ISUZU put into Hong Kong and was drydocked by the No.2 Naval Working Department for about a week. In May 1942, Director Mizuno's No.2 Naval Working Department had a staff of about 20 Naval Officers (engineers, technical and administrative staff), about 100 Naval Ratings and about 2000 uniformed technicians. The dockyard had about 1,000 Chinese workers at that time, employed almost entirely on repairing the sabotage carried out by the British Navy. By the end 1942, the number of Chinese workers had increased to about 3,000. That same month, the No.2 Naval Working Department refloated and repaired IJN tanker TOEN MARU (ex-British AUNGBAN). Among other ships salvaged in 1942 were destroyer HMS THRACIAN, river gunboat HMS MOTH, three unidentified launches, KANWA MARU, an unidentified oil tanker (salvaged in Aberdeen) and Boom Defence vessel HMS BARLIGHT that was converted to an auxiliary mineslayer and designated IJN M-101. On 26 December 1942, EMPIRE PAGODA, seized in Dec '41, made a sea trial sailing off the Hong Kong and Whampoa shipyard, but it was found that the engine was not working well. She had her 2nd trial on 28 December. The Japanese wanted to complete the ship early, so they employed another hundred or do more workers on the new ship. Night work was also done. The total number of workers on the ship was about 400. In 1943, Osaka Shipbuilding Co.´s Kowloon Docks was handed over by the IJA to Mitsui and its name changed to Nippon Shipbuilding Co. of the Navy, Kowloon Dock. Under Kowloon Dock were Bailey Dock and Cosmopolitan Dock. In early 1943, the number of Japanese workers was about 500. Chinese workers, worked day and night, mostly on salvaged ships and breaking-up scrap for shipment to Japan. Among the ships salvaged in 1943 TAI LEE, KWANGTUNG, ASHUN KWA and HAKUZI. In 1943, 4,644 ton British freighter HINSANG, scuttled off Hong Kong in Dec '41, was salvaged, requisitioned by the IJA, repaired and renamed KENSEI MARU. Auxiliary patrol boat HMS TEH HSING was converted to a river gunboat, requistioned by the IJN and renamed NANYO. In 1943, among ships in dock at the Taikoo Dockyard were ASAOSAN, FORMOSA, HOI NAM/SS HOI NAM, PAK CHAU and YUM YI SHAN and MARUs. eight patrol boats (Ging´s Group), 15 patrol boats (Flying Hawk Group), 20 speed boats (Dare-to-die/Dash Forward Groups), 20 Reserve Corps speed boats, CARL ISLAND/KATO and HOI TAK/CHUNSING, HIU TIN, ASUSAN, TAI LEE AND HOI CHU MARUs, one destroyer, SHIRIHEN (former Swedish), destroyer GYO, Customs Cruiser MINATO, destroyer GOJEN, KWANG SI MARU, GYO, EI, SAI ON/SEIAN MARU, torpedo boat MAGPIE and CHUEN HING MARU.. Among ships drydocked in 1943 at Kowloon Docks were AKATSUKI. GYOTEN, DATE, NANSHU/NAM CHO, a large wooden junk, CHUNG HOI, PUI HOI, No 617, WING DING, YIN KING, PUK HOI, WAN YUNG SAU YAT, SUN SAI, WING TO, KO CHI, WAIT BE SUI and MING SANG MARUs, ELECTRIC STAR (former Star Ferry), TOYO, HAKUYO, TIEN LEE/TENRI. KICHO, MING SANG/MEISEN, GYOTEN. TAI SUN, KWONG CHEUNG, WA WA, TIN/TIEN LEE, HIU TIN/CHOTEN, IJA BUENOS AIRES, LEE SHING/LEE SHANG, NAM and SHUNTIEN MARUs, a MOLLER ship, two Russian ships, HA PAU NARU, FUKINICHI, POT HOI, PAK HOI, TIN SANG and YAT TAI, RYOYO, LUZON, HONG KONG, CHU KUT/SUMIYOSHI, SHING TIN/MARITA, KHOON SHING/KANJO, KE KUT/KIKICHI, MUK YI KWEI, CHING/KEIJO, PAK YEUNG/HAKUYO, RIYO, ASIA, NAM CHOW, HUI HUNG, TSUI/HIU NAM, HUNG SHUN, SHUN YAU, FOOK KUT, HEI CHEUNG, NANSHYU, YAMADA, KIN HING, KO CHIi and HUI HUNG MARUs. Among ships repaired in other Hong Kong yards in 1943 were JUNWA MARU, an unnamed armed vessel, 10,893 ton freighter DOSEI MARU (ex-Philippine DON JOSE), TOKUSEI MARU, KOKO MARU, destroyers NAM HOI/NANKAI MARU, WO CHUK MARU, WAN SAN, NANJUN, SUROTE, SUMO, NING MARU, FOOK LI/FUKURI MARU, FOOK HOI/FUKUKAI MARU, NAM LI/NANRI MARU, TSUI FUNG/OIKAZE MARU, HOI TAK/KAITOKU MARU, KARISOMONE, TOBITAKI HIRU, ON LEE MARU, TIKUSAN, WO SING, No. 156, HOI PING, YUAN TI, SHUK SING MARU and HOI FUNG MARU, river gunboat MAIKO and six special guard boats. In May 1943, EMPIRE PAGODA was completed, renamed GYOTEN MARU, alloted IJA No. 985, and placed in IJA service. In August 1943, EMPIRE DRAGON, seized in Dec '41, was completed at the Hong Kong and Whampoa shipyard, renamed GYOKU MARU, alloted IJA No. 965, and placed in IJA service. On 26 August 1943, the Hong Kong and Whampoa shipyard was bombed and destroyed in a USAAF 14th Air Force raid consisting of 15 Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers with an escort of 17 Curiss P-40 Warhawk" fighters. Five Japanese interceptors were shot down. On 20 October 1943, Captain Tahara Hozo (24) was appointed Director of the No.2 Naval Working Department. He was promoted Rear Admiral on 1 May 1944 and continued as Director until 1 November 1944. On 1 December 1943, two 14th Air Force B-25 “Mitchell” medium bombers, part of a large USAAF raid on the Hong Kong-Kowloon area, attacked the Taikoo dockyard. Freighter TEIREN MARU was severely damaged by bombs and later beached. Subsequently, she was written off as a comprehensive total loss. In 1944, Kowloon Docks and Taikoo Docks were engaged in the construction of a number of new ships. In mid-1944, Kowloon dockyard came under the control of the Konoki Butai. In April 1944, the dock was enlarged by the addition of 14 new workshops. In 1944, three 948-ton kidotai/SS-type tank landing ships were laid down at Kowloon Docks, but were captured on the stocks incomplete in 1945 and broken up. In July 1944, the dockyard employed nearly 6,000 Chinese workers, but this was reduced to about 3,000 in late 1944. That same month, Japanese personnel numbered about 800. In August 1944, electrical power to the Kowloon dockyard supplied from the China Light Main Station was suspended, but was later restored. Facilities existed at the dockyard for generating its own electricity. Shortages of many essential materials, including iron plates, cast iron, welding sticks, rivets, coal and timber, were frequently reported. In the latter part of 1944, the yard used its own diesel engine for generating electricity. On 16 October 1944, Kowloon dockyard came under attack by 14th Air Force raid consisting of 28 Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers 8 B-25 “Mitchell” medium bombers,with an escort of 26 North American P-51 "Mustang and 21 Curiss P-40 Warhawk" fighters. All buildings except the Transformer Station and the Moulding Shop were hit. The Ironsmith´s, Brassmith´s, and Coppersmith´s Shops, Welding Shop, Boiler Repair Shop, Steel Plates Store and Machine Room were destroyed, while the Main Generating Station was either destroyed or badly damaged. The No.1 Slipway was extensively damaged and rendered unusable, while the cranes and internal railway system were wrecked. Half of the materials for building new ships was destroyed, as well as a large stock of petrol and coal. Many ships were sunk or damaged, casualties were heavy, and work was suspended for some time after the raid. The ex-British EMPIRE WALL, under construction at Hong Kong & Whampoa Dockyard Co. as yard No. 851since 24 June 1941 and seized in Dec '41, was scheduled to be launched 24 November 1944. However, she remained on the stocks incomplete due to serious damage to the building yard suffered in the bombing attack and severe material shortages. After end of war, found still on stocks, 80% plated-up, decks incomplete. Slight bomb damage in No.2 hold. Engine and boiler parts ready, but not assembled. Dismantled for scrap in May 1950. In early December 1944, the only significant addition made by the Japanese to the dockyard facilities was construction of a new 360’ x 50’ slipway completed Other facilities added by the Japanese were a boathouse and an underground air raid shelter. In 1944, among ships in dock at the Kowloon Dockyard were destroyer HATSUKA, four F-type landing/cargo ships, two motor sailing vessels, “Special 44”, five powered cross-river craft, AKATSUKI, GYOKO MARU, six (TAI FOU CHAU class), military landing craft, KOTO, SHIROGANE/SHIRAGANE, KAISHU, KAINAN, MINKAKU, NICHISHIKI/HIFUKU, HITSU, TENRI, KINKAKU, KINRO, GINRO, GINKYO, HARUYO, CHIRYO, TIN SANG, SHIMADA, MINKYO and TAIFU/OTOMI MARUs. Among among ships in dock that year at the Taikoo Dockyard were HEWEIKAI, PING HOI and KOFUKU/HIROFUKU MARUs, Naval Supply Depot craft, SS LEE HONG, FUKUAN, SHINSHU, JOSHU, TENICHI, FUKUEI, BANSHU MARUs, a police launch, lighter, tug and KOTO/NANKAI/SS FATSHAN, ANKAI, DOSEI, TOZAN/HIGASHITAMA, NANSEI, HIROSHI/KO, TAIFU/OTOMI, YOKAI and HAKUUN/SHIRAKUMO MARUs. Among the ships repaired in other Hong Kong yards in 1944 were two unidentified destroyers, minesweepers IJN W-101 and IJN W-102, YO FEI/ANRI, CHOHATSU, ALDGATE, WATERGATE, UMESHIMA MARU, TSURUARASHI/KAKURAN MARU, patrol cutters No 4 MUUN, SHINSHU and JUNEI, TOKYO MARU, CHOSU/JOSU MARU, unidentified submarine, river gunboats MAISHI/MAIKO, TAI LEE, HMS MOTH/SUMA, SAGI and ANRI MARU, KYOWATO/KYOWASHIMA MARU, torpedo boat HATSUKARI and ARASHIYAMA/RAMSAN MARU. On 16 January 1945, Vice Admiral John S. McCain’s Task Force 38 launched carrier-based air attacks on shipping and installations at Hong Kong. The raid caused considerable damage to Taikoo, when more than half the workshops were reported to have been hit, and a number of vessels present in the docks were sunk or damaged. During the raid on Hong Kong, TF 38’s planes sank transport HOKKAI MARU, merchant tankers TENEI , MATSUSHIMA and SANKO MARUs and merchant cargo ship ANRI GO No.2. They also damaged fleet oiler KAMOI, destroyer HASU, kaibokan NOMI, SHINNAN and CD-60 and LST T.108. On 15 August 1945, after Japanese militarist's intransigence forced the United States to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima and then the second on Nagasaki, Japan surrendered and British sovereignty over Hong Kong was restored.
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