KYURYOKAN

(IRAKO in 1944)

IJN IRAKO:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2007-2014 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

Revision 5


30 May 1940:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki’s Shipyard as transport No. 74.

5 February 1941:
Named IRAKO and provisionally attached to the Sasebo Naval District.

14 February 1941:
Launched.

5 December 1941:
Completed and reattached to the Sasebo Naval District. Departs Kobe to embark food and supplies. Captain Tsuji Eisaku (39) is the Commanding Officer.

11 December 1941:
Western Inland Sea. Begins loading food stores.

23 December 1941:
Hashirajima. IRAKO is inspected by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Ugaki Matome (40) (former CO of HYUGA), Chief of Staff, Combined Fleet.

14 January 1942:
Departs Hashirajima for Truk and Saipan carrying 500-tons of vegetables and other food stores.

January 1942:
Makes stops at Davao, Philippines. Staring Bay, Celebes. Truk, Carolines and Saipan, Marianas.

7 February 1942:
Hashirajima. Arrives after completing her maiden voyage. Unloads 80-tons of sugar from Saipan.

8 March 1942:
Stores Patrol boat PB-1 at Kendari.

9 April 1942:
Mackssar. Provisions auxiliary gunboat OKUYO MARU.

6 May 1942:
Departs Singapore for Yokosuka escorted by destroyer HATAKAZE.

15 May 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

9 August 1942:
Transits the Bungo Straits.

28 September 1942:
Transits the Bungo Straits.

3 November 1942:
Joined by minelayer NASAMI off Fukajima and escorted south to 32 N, before NASAMI is detached. IRAKO heads towards Truk alone.

9 November 1942:
At 10-00N meets up with destroyer ASANAGI.

10 November 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

24 November 1942:
Departs Truk escorted by destroyer OITE.

25 November 1942:
150 Ri outside the atoll OITE is detached and returns to Truk. IRAKO steams towards Japan.

30 November 1942:
Joined by minelayer NASAMI at 31-51N, 132-27E and escorted north through the Bungo Straits.

E 1 December 1942:
NASAMI is detached off Fukajima.

13 December 1942:
Joined by minelayer NUWAJIMA off Mizunoko lighthouse and escorted south.

E 14 December 1942:
NUWAJIMA is detached 90 degrees off Toi Misaki.

1943:
During the year, IRAKO completes 12 round trips from Japan to Truk, a few of which are detailed below:

12 January 1943:
After departing Truk, transits the Bungo Straits as part of large naval force consisting of carrier ZUIKAKU, cruiser SUZUYA, destroyers ARIAKE, YUGURE and AMAGIRI and submarine depot ship JINGEI.

23 January 1943:
Joined by torpedo boat HATO and subchaser CH-39 off Mizunoko Lighthouse and is escorted south.

E 24 January 1943:
CH-39 is detached 90 degrees off Toi Misaki.

2 February 1943:
Truk. Provisions auxiliary seaplane tender SANYO MARU.

9 February 1943:
Truk. Provisions SANYO MARU again.

5 March 1943:
Joined by torpedo boat HATO off Fukajima and escorted south through the Bungo Straits.

E 6 March 1943:
HATO is detached 90 degrees off Toi Misaki.

10 March 1943:
At 13-50N 142-25E IRAKO meets up with destroyer OITE that escorts the ship south-east.

13 March 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

15 March 1943:
Captain Okano Keizaburo (40) (former CO of SHIRAKUMO) assumes command.

30 March 1943:
Joined by patrol boat PB- 46 at 29-05N, 134-04E and escorted north through the Bungo Straits.

E 31 March 1943:
PB-46 is detached off Fukajima.

14 April 1943:
Joined by minelayer YURIJIMA off Fukajima and escorted south through the Bungo Straits.

E 15 April 1943:
YURIJIMA is detached 90 degrees off Toi Misaki.

28 April 1943:
Departs Truk for Iwo Jima (now Iwo To) escorted by destroyer TANIKAZE.

1 May 1943:
Arrives at Iwo Jima.

4 May 1943:
Joined by subchaser CH-35 at 30-40N, 133-40E.

E 5 May 1943:
CH-35 is detached off Fukajima.

24 May 1943:
Departs Kure for Truk with armed merchant cruiser AIKOKU MARU. At sea, joins a convoy from Yokosuka consisting of escort carriers UNYO and CHUYO escorted by DesDiv 24's UMIKAZE.

29 May 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

28 June 1943:
At 1730, IRAKO departs Yokosuka in convoy No. 3628 consisting of HAKUSAN MARU escorted by destroyer IKAZUCHI.

6 July 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

25 July 1943:
IRAKO departs Truk for Kure with cruiser AOBA in an unidentified convoy escorted by destroyers AMATSUKAZE and URAKAZE.

1 August 1943:
IRAKO enters the Bungo Straits with AOBA, AMATSUKAZE and URAKAZE. Later that day, arrives at Kure.

12 September 1943:
Departs Truk escorted by minelayer TSUGARU and destroyer HAMAKAZE.

18 September 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

4 October 1943:
IRAKO departs Yokosuka in convoy No. 3002 consisting of TOKYO MARU escorted by destroyer SHIRATSUYU.

12 October 1943:
Arrives at Truk at 0500.

14 November 1943:
At 1400, IRAKO, departs Yokosuka in fleet convoy No. 3115 with transport (ex-sub tender) HEIAN MARU and aircraft transport KEIYO MARU escorted by destroyer YUKIKAZE and kaibokan OKI.

19 November 1943:
LtCdr (later Captain/victor of SHINANO) Joseph Enright's (USNA ’33) USS DACE (SS-247), on her first patrol, attacks the convoy unsuccessfully.

23 November 1943:
At 1550, arrives at Truk.

5 December 1943:
Departs Truk in convoy No. No. 4205A with submarine tender YASUKUNI MARU escorted by kaibokan MIKURA.

7 December 1943:
Kaibokan HIRADO joins the escort of convoy No. 4205A.

10 December 1943:
The convoy arrives at Saipan.

14 December 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

4 January 1944:
Departs Yokosuka for Truk escorted by destroyers SHIGURE and HARUSAME.

11 January 1944:
Arrives at Truk.

13 January 1944:
Truk. IRAKO provisions transport HEIAN MARU.

16 January 1944:
Truk. Provisions HEIAN MARU again.

20 January 1944:
Departs Truk escorted by destroyers SATSUKI, AKEBONO and USHIO. In a daylight attack, LtCdr Royal L. Rutter’s (USNA ’30) USS SEADRAGON (SS-194) torpedoes and damages IRAKO at 08-04N, 152-40E. Hit by one torpedo to her starboard bow, which causes medium damage, IRAKO is down by the bow and adrift off Truk's N passage. SATSUKI, AKEBONO and USHIO stand by. Destroyer SUZUKAZE departs Truk to assist. [1]

21 January 1944:
Cruiser CHOKAI arrives from Truk to tow IRAKO to port escorted by USHIO and SUZUKAZE. SATSUKI is diverted to Saipan to assist torpedoed escort carrier UNYO. IRAKO and her consorts arrive back at Truk at 1700.

21 January-12 February 1944:
Truk. Undergoes temporary repairs, probably by repair ship AKASHI.

13 February 1944:
Departs Truk for Yokosuka in convoy 4213 consisting of fleet oiler NOTORO, and TATSUURA and HIBI MARUs escorted by kaibokan MANJU, OKI and subchaser CH-31.

27 February 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

3 March 1944:
Yokosuka. Undergoes repairs, but soon thereafter transfers to nearby Yokohama.

March-August 1944:
Yokohama. Undergoes permanent battle-damage repairs at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. shipyard. Also undergoes additional work at Sasebo arsenal.

5 July 1944:
Assigned to the Southwest Area Fleet at Manila.

10 August 1944:
IRAKO departs Imari Bay for Singapore in convoy HI-71 comprised of oilers AZUSA, KYOKUTO, TEIYO, EIYO, ZUIHO, AMATSU and NIYO MARUs, HAKKO MARU No. 2, fleet oiler HAYASUI, transports TEIA (ex-French ARAMIS), AWA, NOTO, HOKKAI and NOSHIRO MARUs, IJA landing craft depot ships TAMATSU and MAYASAN MARUs and cargo ships KASHII, NISSHO and ORYOKU MARUs escorted by destroyers FUJINAMI and YUNAGI, kaibokan HIRADO, KURAHASHI, MIKURA, SHONAN, CD-11 and escort carrier TAIYO. The 631st NAG provides air cover with 12 BN5 “Kates”.

12 August 1944:
Off Nansei Shoto. IRAKO collides with TEIA MARU (ex-French liner ARAMIS), but the damage is minor.

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

25 August 1944:
At 0630, IRAKO departs Moji in convoy HI-73 consisting of IJA landing craft depot ship KIBITSU MARU, armed merchant cruiser GOKOKU MARU, transports (ex-seaplane tenders) SANUKI and KAGU MARUs, tankers TOHO, OMUROSAN, OTOWASAN, TAIHO, FUJISAN, HAKKO, AMATO, TOA and KUROSHIO MARUs escorted by escort carrier UNYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, CD-13, CD-19, CD-21 and CD-27. Later that day, the convoy is joined briefly by transports MIZUHO, ARABIA and KOKURYU MARUs and tanker MANEI MARU.

26 August 1944:
At 0900, MIZUHO, ARABIA and KOKURYU MARUs are ordered away because of excessive smoke. MANEI MARU remains at Kyushu because of engine problems.

29 August 1944:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa. Departs that same day and arrives at Tsoying (near Takao).

30 August 1944:
Off Saei, Formosa. The convoy splits. KIBITSU, GOKOKU and KAGU MARUs, and probably IRAKO, head for Manila. The remaining ships head for Singapore.

21 September 1944:
About 200 aircraft of Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's (USNA ’10) Task Force 38 strike Manila throughout the day. Planes from TG 38.1, TG 38.2 and TG 38.3 sink destroyer SATSUKI anchored near IRAKO. IRAKO rescues a few sailors.

Vice Admiral Mikawa Gunichi, (38) (former CO of KIRISHIMA), CINC, Southwest Area Fleet, advises the Supreme Commander of Japanese Forces in the Southern Area, Field Marshal, Count, Terauchi Hisaichi, CINC, Southern Army, to transfer all supply ships from Manila to the relative security of Coron Bay off Palawan Island, Philippines. At 1715, Terauchi issues the order.

22 September 1944:
At 0300, IRAKO, carrying a deck load of reconnaissance floatplanes, departs Manila for Coron Bay, Calamian Islands in the Taihi (refugee) convoy with CHINZEI, BAIKAL, TAIEI, TENHI, TAITEN, OLYMPIA, EKKAI and KOGYO MARUs escorted by minelayer AOTAKA, auxiliary subchasers SHONAN MARU No. 11 and HAKKO MARU, CHa-60 and CHa-61.

23 September 1944:
IRAKO anchors between Tangat and Lusong Island.

24 September 1944:
At 0550, 96 Grumman F6F “Hellcat” fighters and 24 Curtiss SB2C “Helldiver” dive-bombers of Vice Admiral Mitscher’s Task Group 38.3’s Air Group 18 from USS INTREPID (CV-11), AG-31 from CABOT (CVL-28) and AG-19 based on Mitscher's flagship USS LEXINGTON (CV-16) take off to attack the anchorage at Coron Bay, Busuanga Island, Palawan, 340 miles away.

Busuanga Island. A convoy of at least 12 IJN auxiliary ships is dispersed in the coastal waters around the island, At 0855, Air Group 31’s fighter-bombers start their attack. They attack the ships in Coron Bay and the ships to the west first. Their first strike scores direct bomb hits in IRAKO’s midship section. Her bridge and superstructure are set ablaze. She begins to sink by the bow, but is beached. Later, IRAKO slips into the sea and sinks at the mouth of Coron Bay at 11-58N, 120-02E. Casualties are unknown. TAIEI (five crewmen, three gunners and three passengers KIA), OLYMPIA (14 crewmen, three gunners and two passengers KIA), EKKAI (ex-Panamanian MORAZAN) (44 crewmen and 15 passengers KIA) and KOGYO (35 crewmen KIA) MARUs are also sunk.

8 February 1945:
Lingga Anchorage. Provisioned by HAKUSA.

30 November 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.


Authors' Note:
[1] CNO information dated 20 Jan 44 says: “IRAKO being towed at reduced speed.” Also IRAKO was hit at 07-53 N, 151-12 E. by one torpedo. CNO also notes that on 20 January IRAKO was adrift 3 miles outside Truk North Channel, indicating she had suffered SS attack just after departing Truk for the Empire.

Thanks go to John Whitman of the USA for info on CNO intercepts of Japanese messages and to Matthew Jones for help in identifying COs. Grateful thanks also to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France.

-Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.


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