(Type 2TL Wartime Standard Merchant Tanker by Ueda Kihachiro)


Tabular Record of Movement

© 2010-2013 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

10 June 1944:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. as a 10,238-ton Type 2TL wartime Standard Merchant Tanker for Iino Kaiun Kaisha, K.K.

1 August 1944:
Launched and named KAIHO MARU.

15 September 1944:

1 October 1944:
At 0800, KAIHO MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-77 also consisting of oilers OMUROSAN, OTOWASAN, ITSUKUSHIMA, AKANE, HAKOZAKI, TAIHO and ARITA MARUs, transports MANJU (ex-SANTOS) and KINUGASA and ORYOKU MARUs, German submarine supply ship QUITO (KITO-GO) and an unidentified vessel escorted by kaibokan CHIBURI and CD-19, CD-21 and CD-27.

5 October 1944:
Arrives at Takao. Before departing later the same day, HI-77’s escort is bolstered by inclusion of kaibokan ETOROFU and SHONAN.

6 October 1944:
250 miles W of Manila. After patrolling the Luzon Strait, a wolfpack consisting of LtCdr Arnold H. Holtz’s USS BAYA (SS-318), LtCdr Henry D. Sturr’s BECUNA (SS-319) and LtCdr Francis W. Scanland, Jr’s HAWKBILL (SS-366) heads through the South China Sea towards Fremantle, Australia.

About 1400, LtCdr James B. Grady's USS WHALE (SS-239) torpedoes and sinks oiler AKANE MARU. At 1757, Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles W. Wilkins' SEAHORSE (SS-304) torpedoes and sinks CD-21.

7 October 1944:
At about 2200, KINUGASA MARU is hit by three more torpedoes. At 2224, HAWKBILL, running on the surface, fires four torpedoes and gets three hits followed by an ammo explosion. LtCdr Holtz’s BAYA also torpedoes and sinks KINUGASA MARU.

12 October 1944:
At 1500, the remainder of HI-77 arrives at Singapore. [1]

17 November 1944:
KAIHO MARU departs Singapore in convoy HI-80 also consisting of TENEI, MATSUSHIMA, RYOEI, MUNAKATA, ARIMASAN, KUROSHIO and NICHINAN MARUs escorted by light cruiser KASHII, kaibokan MANJU, NOMI, UKURU, KASADO, MIYAKE, CD-17, CD-23 and CD-51 and minelayer NIIZAKE.

27 November 1944:
At 0930, RYOEI and ARIMASAN MARUs escorted by NIIZAKI are detached for Takao.

4 December 1944:
HI-80 arrives at Sasebo.

31 December 1944:
At 0820, KAIHO MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-87 also consisting of fleet oiler KAMOI and tankers TENEI, KUROSHIO, HASHIDATE, MATSUSHIMA, MITSUSHIMA, MIRI, MUNAKATA and SARAWAK MARUs and passenger-cargo ship TATSUWA MARU escorted by destroyers SHIGURE, HATAKAZE and DesDiv17’s HAMAKAZE and ISOKAZE and kaibokan KURAHASHI, YASHIRO, MIKURA and CD-13. Light carrier RYUHO provides air cover.

7 January 1945:
East China Sea. The convoy is sighted by "Loughlin's Loopers" submarine wolf pack consisting of Cdr (later Rear Admiral/MOH) Eugene R. Fluckey's USS BARB (SS-220) and LtCdr Evan T. Shepard's PICUDA (SS-382), later joined by Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles E. Loughlin's QUEENFISH (SS-393).

At 0905, in high seas, Shepard's PICUDA torpedoes and heavily damages MUNAKATA MARU’s bow. She is assisted by KURAHASHI then proceeds separately to Kirun (Keelung). The convoy anchors at Shinchiku roadstead, Formosa.

At 1300, the convoy is sighted by the wolfpack and tracked. RYUHO and SHIGURE are detached and proceed to Kirun. MITSUSHIMA MARU suffers an engine breakdown and is detached to Takao escorted by destroyer HATAKAZE.

At 1300, RYUHO and SHIGURE are also detached and proceed to Kirun. The convoy anchors at Shinchiku Roadstead, Formosa. HAMAKAZE collides with KAIHO MARU. The destroyer is detached with ISOKAZE as escort to Mako, Pescadores for emergency repairs. At 1830, in dense fog, the convoy anchors temporarily on the W Formosan coast. The ships split up and enter Takao’s port at different times.

8 January 1945:
At 1200, KAIHO MARU, fleet oiler KAMOI and kaibokan YASHIRO, MIKURA, CD-13 enter Takao Port. That same day, KAIHO MARU and KAMOI depart Takao escorted by kaibokan YASHIRO, MIKURA and CD-13.

At 1330, KAIHO MARU experiences an engine breakdown. YASHIRO and CD-13 remain behind with her. At 2313, KAMOI and the other ships anchor temporarily outside Takao’s port.

9 January 1945:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's (former CO of RANGER, CV-4) Task Force 38 aircraft attack shipping off Takao. Grumman TBM "Avengers" and F6F "Hellcat" aircraft launch fierce attacks on KAIHO MARU anchored in outer Takao Port. At 0810, a bomb hits the port side of oil tank No. 4 and a fire breaks out, which quickly spreads. Two bombs hit the engine room aft. A further two bombs hit the ship’s bridge and a bomb hits the bow. The vessel develops a 40-degree list to starboard and fire spreads through the whole ship causing the crew to abandon ship.

At 1530, KAIHO MARU is run aground 18 km off Chihkan, Pescadores at 22-39N, 120-12E. KAIHO MARU was carrying 680 troops of whom 314 and six ship’s gunners, four watchmen and 14 of the crew are KIA. The planes also heavily damage KUROSHIO MARU and damage kaibokan YASHIRO, MIYAKE and CD-13.

Authors' Note:
[1] The almost five week interval between KAIHO MARU's arrival and departure from Singapore, especially in this critical time of the war for oil-starved Japan, seems indicative that her lay over was necessitated by need for repairs. The Type 2TL Wartime Standard Merchant Tankers, hastily built, suffered frequent breakdowns of steering, engines and major machinery.

- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

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