(NOTORO by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

IJN Seaplane Tender KAMIKAWA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 1998-2006 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Allan Alsleben.

Revision 7

5 August 1936:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki's dockyard.

13 December 1936:
Launched and named KAMIKAWA MARU.

15 March 1937:
Completed by Kawasaki as a merchant vessel for the Kawasaki Kisen K. K. Line.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (Sino-Japanese) Incident:
Lugouqiao, China. Japanese troops are on night maneuvers at the bridge. They fire blank cartridges. Chinese troops fire back, but do not cause injuries. At morning roll call, the Japanese discover a soldier missing and assume the Chinese captured him. The Japanese demand entry to Beijing to look for the soldier. The Chinese refuse. The Japanese then bomb the city. An undeclared war on China begins.

10 August 1937:
The 22nd Sea Scout Unit is embarked aboard oiler TSURUMI and departs Sasebo. Later, the 22nd establishes a seaplane base in the Ma-an Islands, off China.

18 September 1937:
In response to the Sino-Japanese Incident, the IJN requisitions KAMIKAWA MARU for naval service as a flying boat tender. She is registered (commissioned) in the IJN in the Sasebo Naval District. Captain (later Vice Admiral) Omori Sentaro [41](former CO of YUGIRI) is posted as the Commanding Officer.

1 October 1937:
Attached to the Third Fleet.

5 October 1937:
Departs Kure to operate off the central Chinese coast.

9 October 1937:
The 22nd Sea Scout Unit’s Type 95 Nakajima E8N2 “Dave” reconnaissance float biplanes are transferred to KAMIKAWA MARU.

1 December 1937:
Reassigned to the 3rd Air Flotilla. Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Arima Masafumi [43] (former CO of ASAMA) is posted as the Commanding Officer. Captain Omori is reassigned as the Chief Instructor of the IJN’s Torpedo School.

26 December 1937:
Arrives at Takao, Taiwan.

28 December 1937:
Departs Takao to operate off the southern coast of China.

1 February 1938:
Reassigned to the 3rd Air Flotilla, Fifth Fleet.

13 March 1938:
At Mako, Pescadores.

1 July 1938:
Attached to the Third Fleet.

21 July 1938:
Tsiangtsin, China. The Japanese begin operations with aerial reconnaissance of the city followed by aerial bombardment of Chinese positions. At dawn the next day, the IJA's 106th Division lands a reinforced infantry brigade south of Tsiangtsin. The Chinese launch many counterattacks, but are repelled by the IJA assisted by air cover.

24 July 1938:
That night, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kondo Eijiro’s (36)(former CO of KAGA) Yosuko Force lands troops of the Kure No. 5 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) on the banks of the Yangtze. Gunnery support is provided by Kondo’s 11th Battle Division. Minelayer YAEYAMA leads the van with TorpBoatDiv 1, MinesweepDiv 1’s and MinesweepDiv 2. Kondo’s Guard Unit is made up of TorpBoatDiv 11 and TorpBoatDiv 21. Air cover is provided by KAMIKAWA MARU and NOTORO. Threatened with envelopment, the Chinese withdraw.

1 September 1938:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Yokokawa Ichihei [43] is posted the Commanding Officer. Captain Arima is reassigned as the CO of the Sasebo Air Group.

1 October 1938:
Operates out of the Shanghai or Whangapoa Estuary, patrols the coastline, or is “on call” to support the Army.

5 December 1938:
Commissioned in the IJN. Begins service as an aircraft transport. Attached to the China Area Fleet.

15 December 1938:
KAMIKAWA MARU is attached to the 5th Fleet's newly formed 16th Seaplane Tender Division with the 14th Naval Air Group's (NAG) assets. Operates off Hainan Island in support of operations in the Canton area.

15 November 1939:
Completes conversion to a 17-knot 6,853-ton seaplane carrier/tender. Six Ten Year type 120-mm (4.7-inch)/45 cal. high angle guns are installed. She carries four Type 94 Kawanishi E7K2 “Alf” and eight Type 95 Nakajima E8N2 Dave floatplanes. She is assigned call sign JNJL. KAMIKAWA MARU's aircrafts' tail code is "ZI-xx." She is re-rated a Seaplane Tender and assigned in the Sasebo Naval District.

Captain (later Rear Admiral) Ando Shigeaki [43] (former XO of HOSHO) assumes command. Captain Yokogawa is reassigned as the CO of HIRYU. The 16th Seaplane Tender Division is deactivated. That same day, the 3rd, 4th and 5th fleets are renamed the China Expeditionary Fleet. KAMIKAWA MARU departs for Hainan Island to begin operations in the Canton area.

1 April 1940:
Attached to the Second China Expeditionary Fleet.

1 July 1940:
Captain (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Yamada Michiyuki [42] (former CO of Suzuka Air Group) assumes command. Continues operations in the Canton area.

9 November 1940:
At Mako.

15 November 1940:
Reassigned to Captain Imamura Osamu’s [40] (former CO of NOTORO) new 6th NAG and directly attached to the Combined Fleet with fleet oiler/seaplane carrier NOTORO. Captain (later Rear Admiral) Hattori Katsugi (former CO of KAMOI) assumes command. Captain Yamada is reassigned as the CO of the Oita Naval Air Group.

1 December 1940:
Nagasaki. Drydocked at Mitsubishi’s Yard.

20 December 1940:

27-29 January 1941:
KAMIKAWA MARU becomes the temporary flagship of 6th NAG instead of NOTORO.

26 February 1941:
At Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa.

25 March 1941:
At Sasebo.

10 April 1941:
Reassigned to Captain Imamura’s 12th NAG, Second China Area Fleet with tender SANYO MARU for operations in the Shanghai area.

17 April 1941:
At Mako.

4 May 1941:
Sasebo Navy Yard. Drydocked.

15 May 1941:

2 June 1941:
Designated as the flagship of the 12th Seaplane Tender Division. That same day, the flag is transferred temporarily to aircraft transport FUJIKAWA MARU.

20 September 1941:
Captain (later Rear Admiral) Shinoda Tarohachi [44] (former CO of AO SHIRYA) assumes command.

22 November 1941:
Departs Sasebo for Samah, Hainan Island. KAMIKAWA MARU now carries 14 Aichi Type 0 E13A1 “Jake” reconnaissance floatplanes and Mitsubishi F1M2 “Pete” scout float biplanes.

27 November 1941:
Arrives at Samah.

November 1941:
KAMIKAWA MARU is assigned to 12th NAG, Third Fleet and moves to Camranh Bay, Indo-China.

4 December 1941: Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
KAMIKAWA MARU departs Samah, Hainan Island with SANYO MARU and the No. 1 Malaya Invasion Convoy carrying the IJA 5th Infantry Division and heads south.

6 December 1941:
Kota Bharu, Malaya. At 1030, a flight of three Lockheed "Hudson" light bomber patrol planes of No. 1 RAAF Squadron takes off on a reconnaissance flight over the South China Sea.

185 miles E of Kota Bharu. About noon, the crew of one of the Hudsons spots three Japanese ships steaming west. Fifteen minutes later, the same crew spots and reports sighting the main IJN convoy consisting of a battleship, five cruisers, seven destroyers and 22 transports.

KAMIKAWA MARU launches a Pete floatplane to intercept the Hudson, but it is spotted and the Hudson takes cover in the clouds.

A few minutes later, a second Hudson also spots and reports details on the convoy.

At 1400, Air Chief Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, CINC, Far East, is advised of the sightings. Brooke-Popham is unsure of the meaning of the movements of the Japanese ships: perhaps they are just testing British defenses or perhaps they are heading for Siam. In any event, lacking authority from London to do anything unless Allied Forces are actually attacked, he places all his forces in Malaya on full alert. He orders continued surveillance of the convoy by his recce aircraft.

Off Occupied French Indo-China (Vietnam). A floatplane from KAMIKAWA MARU sights the American Yacht ISABEL (PY-10). ISABEL was dispatched to reconnoiter the coast of Indo-China by Admiral (later Senator) Thomas S. Hart, CINC, US Asiatic Fleet, on orders from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Later that day, ISABEL is ordered to return to Manila.

7 December 1941:
Off Malaya. At 0300, Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo orders patrols in the area between the convoy and Malaya. The convoy is then 100 nautical miles off Kota Bharu. There is heavy rain and zero visibility. The Southern Expeditionary Fleet has two seaplane carriers, KAMIKAWA MARU with 14 E13A1 Jakes and F1M2 Petes and SAGARA MARU with six F1M2s and two E8N2 Daves. Both ships catapult off 11 F1M2 and six E13A1, but the planes report nothing.

Gulf of Siam. 20 miles WNW of Panjang Island. At 0820 (local), an E13A1 coded ZI-26 from KAMIKAWA MARU’s Air Unit, piloted by Ensign Ogata Eiichi, spots Consolidated PBY “Catalina” reconnaissance flying boat W8417, coded "FY-W"of the RAF's 205 Squadron piloted by Warrant Officer William E. Webb, RAF. Ogata attacks the PBY from the rear and succeeds in damaging the flying boat. With their radio destroyed, the 8-man Aussie crew can not report . Ensign Ogata shadows the Catalina for 25 minutes until five Type 97 Kawasaki Ki-27 "Nate" fighters from the JAAF's 1st Sentai arrive and quickly shoot down the PBY about 0845. WO Webb and his crew become the first casualties of the Pacific War.

8 December 1941: Operation “E” – The Invasion of Malaya:
Japanese forces land on the Kra Isthmus of Thailand and NE Malaya.

Off Kota Bharu, Siam (Thailand). KAMIKAWA MARU operates with SAGARA MARU covering Malaya convoys. That day, Lt Mizuno Teinosuke [64], a KAMIKAWA MARU floatplane pilot, is reported as lost in action.

11 December 1941:
Arrives at Camranh Bay, Indochina.

13 December 1941: Operation “B” - The Invasion of British Borneo:
Covers the British Borneo Invasion Force with CruDiv 7’s KUMANO, SUZUYA, light cruisers YURA and KINU, DesDiv 11’s FUBUKI, DesDiv 12’s MURAKUMO, SHINONOME and SHIRAKUMO and DesDiv 20’s SAGIRI, subchaser CH-7 and minesweepers W-6 and W-7.

17 December 1941:
Miri, northern Borneo. Under KAMIKAWA MARU’s Air Officer, Cdr Miura Kintaro, her floatplanes provide air cover for the invasion landings.

N of Miri, near Seria. In the darkness, SHINONOME completes escorting the minesweeper W-7 and troop transport HIYOSHI MARU to this landing site. Just after dawn, steaming alone off shore, SHINONOME is attacked by Dutch Dornier Do-24 K-1 flying-boat X-32 of Aircraft Group GVT-7 based at Tarakan, E Borneo. Of five 200-kg bombs she drops, the X-32 scores two direct hits and a near-miss. An explosion severs SHINONOME's stern and she sinks quickly with all hands - the first FUBUKI-class destroyer sunk in WWII.

A Do-24 X-34 flying boat of GVT-7 attacks a vessel, but is intercepted by a Type O Mitsubishi F1M2 ‘Pete’ from KAMIKAWA MARU. The Dornier is forced to make an emergency landing with two of its crew dead. Two hours later, in bad weather conditions. Six Dutch Glenn Martin bombers of 2-VIG-I, also attack. A Pete from the KAMIKAWA MARU attacks the Dutch bomber formation, but they escape. [1]

The invasion force goes ashore almost unopposed at Miri, Seria and Lutong. The 2,500 men of MajGen Kawaguchi Kiyotake's "Kawaguchi Detachment" and the No. 2 Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) quickly capture Miri's airfield and oil fields.

19 December 1941:
Miri. In the morning, Glenn Martin B-10 medium bombers from 1-VIG-I and 2-VIG-I based at Samarinda and Singkawang attack the invasion shipping. Four of KAMIKAWA MARU’s F1M2 “Pete” floatplanes intercept separate trios of bombers that appear at 15-minute intervals. The Petes’ pilots claim downing Glenn Martin M-571 of 2-VIG-I.

20 December 1941:
Miri. About midday, six Glenn Martins of 2-VIG-I escorted by two obsolete Brewster “Buffalo” fighters attack Japanese shipping off Miri. The bomber crews miss a cruiser. F1M2s from KAMIKAWA MARU intercept and claim one bomber. The Buffaloes escape with heavy damage.

That same day, an E13A1 Jake from KAMIKAWA MARU fails to return from a reconnaissance mission.

23 December 1941:
Northern Borneo. F1M2s from KAMIKAWA MARU and Type 0 Mitsubishi A6Ms “Zekes” of the 22nd Air Flotilla’s based at Miri patrol over a convoy. A Dutch Do-24 X-35 flying boat of GVT-1 based at Java is spotted shadowing the convoy. The Dornier is engaged and damaged by a Pete, but escapes and returns to Surabaya.

27 December 1941:
An F1M from KAMIKAWA MARU fails to return from a morning patrol. An E13A1 Jake is dispatched on a search and rescue mission, but finds nothing. While landing near KAMIKAWA MARU, the Jake capsizes and sinks.

Departs for Camranh Bay, Indo-China.

4 January 1942:
At Camrah Bay.

20 January 1942:
Off Singora/Patani, Thailand with tender SAGARA MARU. Provides air cover for a convoy of 11 transports that left Camranh for Singora and Patani carrying troops of the IJA's 18th Infantry Division.

1 February 1942:
The 12th Seaplane Tender Div is disbanded. KAMIKAWA MARU is assigned directly to the Third Fleet.

13 February 1942: The Invasion of Palembang, Sumatra.
Off Bangka Island with SAGARA MARU.

14 February 1942: Operation “J” - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
Camranh Bay. KAMIKAWA MARU is in Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's (former CO of YAMASHIRO) Third Fleet, Southern Force, Netherlands East Indies Force. The Western Force under Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo (former CO of HARUNA), together with an airborne assault, captures the oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra.

KAMIKAWA MARU with the light cruisers NATORI and YURA and the seaplane tender SANYO MARU provide distant cover of the Western Java Seizure Force.

16 February 1942:
Java Sea, Muntok, Bangka Island. A detachment of F1M2 Petes from KAMIKAWA MARU and the SAGARA MARU are operating out of Bangka. Dutch Glenn Martin B-10s of the Java-based 3-VIG-III sortie to attack Japanese shipping in the Moesi River, Sumatra. During the afternoon, F1M2s and Ki-27s of the 1st Sentai intercept four twin-engined bombers over the shipping. One bomber is shot down in southern Sumatra. A Pete is also shot down and lands in the sea, 40 miles W of Muntok, but destroyer HATSUYUKI picks up the pilot and his observer.

1 March 1942:
KAMIKAWA MARU provides air cover for 56 invasion transports carrying the IJA’s 2nd Infantry Division.Ozawa’s Western Force lands troops at Bantam Bay, Merak and Ereten Wetan, Java.

In the morning, three of KAMIKAWA MARU's F1M2s and three of her E13As fly to Bantam Bay, Java. Two of the F1M2s go on to Eretan Wetan. Two Petes from SANYO MARU join them there. In the early afternoon, five Hawker “Hurricanes” of 605 Squadron engage a lone Pete floatplane. After the combat, the Pete’s pilot claims three Hurricanes downed.

Later, that same day, a lone Hurricane finds two of KAMIKAWA MARU's F1M2s at anchor in Bantam Bay. The Hurricane, although under fire from IJN AA positions, strafes the Petes and sets one on fire while badly damaging the other.

3 March 1942:
Off Eretan Wetan, Java with SANYO MARU.

5 March 1942:
Troops of the IJA’s 2nd Infantry landed by Ozawa’s Western Force take the capital of Batavia, Java.

10 March 1942:
Reassigned to the Fourth Fleet at Rabaul.

11 March 1942:
Departs for Kure.

16 March 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

24 March 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

27 March 1942:

4 April 1942:

18 April 1942:
Departs Sasebo for Truk.

24 April 1942:
Arrives at Truk. Assigned to the screening force of the Port Moresby Occupation Force with Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Marumo Kuninori's (former CO of ASHIGARA) CruDiv 18’s light cruisers TENRYU, TATSUTA, YUBARI and three gunboats.

28 April 1942: Operation “MO”- The Invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby (The Battle of Coral Sea):
Departs Truk via Rabaul for the south Solomons.

30 April 1942:
Arrives at Queen Carola anchorage, Kieta, New Ireland.

2 May 1942:
Solomons. Covers the landings on Santa Isabel Island.

3 May 1942:
At Rekata Bay, Santa Isabel Island. KIYOKAWA MARU’s (undergoing repairs in Japan) Air Unit is based aboard KAMIKAWA MARU and provides air cover over Tulagi and Guadalcanal.

4 May 1942:
100 miles S of Guadalcanal. The IJN had previously begun construction of a seaplane base at Tulagi, Florida Island, British Solomons. Task Force 17's Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher (MOH '14/former CO of VERMONT, BB-20) receives a signal that IJN transports are disembarking troops and equipment at Tulagi.

At 0701, YORKTOWN (CV-5) launches her first strike of 18 Grumman F4F-3 "Wildcats" fighters of VF-42, 12 Grumman TBD-1“Devastator” torpedo-bombers of VT-5 and 28 Douglas SBD-3 “Dauntless” dive-bombers from VS-5 and BY-5.

The YORKTOWN’s Air Group 5 makes three attacks on ships and shore installations at Tulagi and Gavutu. They sink the destroyer KIKUZUKI, minesweeper TAMA MARU Maru and auxiliary minesweepers Wa-1 and Wa-2 and four barges.

The YORKTOWN's planes also damage destroyer YUZUKI, minelayer OKINOSHIMA, transport AZUMASAN MARU and cargo ship KOZUI MARU for the loss of three planes.

Air Group 5 also destroys two of the Yokohama NAG's E8N2 Daves based at Tulagi and three F1M2 Pete floatplanes shot down by VF-42's F4Fs while enroute from Shortland to reinforce the seaplanes at Tulagi.

YORKTOWN’s losses are two F4F's and one TBD.

5 May 1942:
Rekata Bay. KIYOKAWA MARU's Air Unit replenishes KAMIKAWA’s aircraft losses, then KAMIKAWA MARU departs for Deboyne Island in the Louisades.

6 May 1942:
At Deboyne Island, Louisade Archipelago. KAMIKAWA MARU is detached from CruDiv 18.

7 May 1942:
Deboyne Island. At 0630, several floatplanes are dispatched on an air search. At 0820, a search plane spots an enemy cruiser fleet 150 miles SSW of DeBoyne.

10 May 1942:
Departs Deboyne.

13 May 1942:
KAMIKAWA MARU is reassigned to the No. 3 Air Force Force, Bismarck Area Defense Force attached to the Fourth Fleet.

20 May 1942:
Reassigned to 11th Seaplane Tender Division, Combined Fleet. Departs Rabaul for Saipan.

24 May 1942:
Arrives at Saipan.

28 May 1942:
Departs Saipan with Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (former CO of KONGO) Midway Invasion Force in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Fujita Ruitaro's (former CO of FUSO) 11th Seaplane Tender Group with seaplane carrier CHITOSE. KAMIKAWA MARU carries fourteen F1M2 Petes and four E8N2 Daves to be based at Eastern Island, Midway.

Accompanies Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (former CO of KONGO) Transport Group: KIYOZUMI, ZENYO, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, AZUMA, KEIYO, GOSHU, KANO, HOKUROKU, KIRISHIMA and NANKAI MARUs, TOA MARU No. 2 and oiler AKEBONO MARU.

The Transport Group is also escorted by Tanaka's DesRon 2’s light cruiser JINTSU, DesDiv 15’s KUROSHIO, OYASHIO, DesDiv 16’s AMATSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE and YUKIKAZE, DesDiv 18’s destroyer-transports ARARE, KASUMI and SHIRANUHI.

3 June 1942: Operation “MI” - The Battle of Midway:
The convoy is bombed by nine B-17s, but KAMIKAWA MARU is undamaged. Then the convoy is attacked by torpedo-carrying PBY "Catalina" amphibious patrol planes. KAMIKAWA MARU is again undamaged, but AKEBONO MARU is torpedoed and KIYOZUMI MARU is strafed.

5 June 1942: Operation “AL”- The Invasion of the Western Aleutians:
Twenty ships of the Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro's (former CO of MUTSU) Fifth Fleet, including the light cruisers KISO and the TAMA, three destroyers, three corvettes, three minesweepers and four transports land Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Omori Sentaro's Occupation Force on Attu, Aleutians without opposition.

6 June 1942:
At 2020, the KAMIKAWA MARU is detached from Kondo's force with BatDiv 3’s KONGO and HIEI, CruDiv 8’s TONE, CHIKUMA, carrier ZUIHO, DesDiv 4’s HAGIKAZE, MAIKAZE and NOWAKI to join Vice Admiral Hosogawa's fleet, after refueling, for the invasion of the Aleutians.

9 June 1942:
KAMIKAWA MARU is reassigned to the Northern Force, Seaplane Force, 11th Seaplane Tender Division, attached to directly the Combined Fleet.

15 June 1942:
Arrives at Kiska. Joins light cruiser KISO, tender KIMIKAWA MARU and destroyers and auxiliaries that arrived earlier. Also present at Kiska is a detachment of the Toko Kokutai with six Type 97 Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" flying boats under Captain Ito Sukemitsu.

KAMIKAWA MARU off-loads her floatplanes to the beach where a seaplane base has been set up. KAMIKAWA MARU's floatplanes fly three-hour ASW and reconnaisance patrols.

19 June 1942:
Frequent air raids on Kiska by the USAAF 11th Air Force cause KAMIKAWA MARU to take refuge at MacDonald Bay, Agattu Island, Aleutians with KIMIKAWA MARU.

27 June 1942:
Arrives at Ominato, Japan, refuels and replenishes, then patrols with her escort destroyer HOKAZE and the fleet SW of the Aleutians.

3 July 1942:
Agattu Island. A flight of seven USAAF B-24 "Liberators" bombs the anchorage harboring KAMIKAWA MARU, KIMIKAWA MARU, oiler FUJISAN MARU and six destroyers. KAMIKAWA MARU is not damaged, but several crewmen aboard KIMIKAWA MARU are killed by a bomb near-miss.

4 July 1942:
Departs Agattu. LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles C. Kirkpatrick's USS TRITON (SS-201) sinks KAMIKAWA MARU’s escort, DesDiv 21’s NENOHI. KAMIKAWA MARU then departs the area for Paramushiro, Kuriles.

July 1942:
Arrives at Hashirajima.

14 July 1942:
Departs Hashirajima.

That same day, KAMIKAWA MARU is assigned to the 11th Seaplane Tender Division, Second Fleet with seaplane carrier CHITOSE. Her aircrafts' tail code is changed to "YII-xx."

15 July 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo. Loads Type 95 Daves and Type 0 Petes.

7 August 1942: American Operation “Watchtower” – The Invasion of Guadalcanal, British Solomons:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (MOH ‘14/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher’s (former CO of VERMONT, BB-20) Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (later Admiral) John S. McCain's (former CO of RANGER, CV-4) Task Force 63’s land-based aircraft, lands Maj Gen (later Gen/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandergrift’s 1st Marine Division on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and Guadalcanal opening the campaign to retake the island.

9 August 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka from Sasebo.

10 August 1942:
KAMIKAWA MARU is assigned to the 11th Seaplane Tender Division (Base Air Force), Second Fleet.

23 August 1942:
Departs Yokosuka. Transports Type O Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe"single-seat float fighters to operate from the Shortland Islands, Bougainville.

28 August 1942:
Shortland Islands. The Eighth Fleet creates the"R" Area Air Force (Homen Koku Butai) under Rear Admiral Jojima Takatsugu (former CO of SHOKAKU). KAMIKAWA MARU is in No. 1 Group of the 11th Seaplane Tender Division with CHITOSE.

The seaplane unit is to augment the IJN’s land-based aircraft in the Guadalcanal area. The unit uses Aichi E13A1 Jake monoplanes for long-range reconnaissance and anti-submarine missions, A6M2-N float fighters and F1M2s for light bombing, convoy-escort duty and to complement the A6M2-Ns in the fighter role. The R-Area Air Force is based in Shortland Harbor, but Rekata Bay on Santa Isabel Island, 135 miles NW of Lunga Point on Guadalcanal, serves as the unit's forward staging base.

1 September 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul. KAMIKAWA MARU is reassigned to the Southeastern Area Force, Bismarck Area Air Force (11th Seaplane Tender Division, Second Fleet), under the tactical command of the CINC, 8th Fleet.

4 September 1942:
Arrives at Shortlands. KAMIKAWA MARU’s A6M2-N floatplane fighters detachment is skippered by Lt Ono Jiro (former Hikocho of CHIKUMA at Pearl Harbor). From this day until 7 November, the unit fliies 360 sorties in 211 separate missions claiming 14 victories and one probable for the loss of 9 of its pilots.

12 September 1942:
KAMIKAWA MARU’s Air Unit’s strength is 11 A6M2-N Rufes and two F1M2 Petes.

13 September 1942:
Guadalcanal, Solomons. KAMIKAWA MARU’s Warrant Officer Kawamura Makio, flying a Rufe with his wingman, shoots down a Douglas SDB “Dauntless” dive-bomber preparing to land at Henderson Field.

14 September 1942:
Guadalcanal. During an attempt to retake Henderson Field, the R-Area Air Force provides air support. The tenders CHITOSE and KAMIKAWA, SANYO and SANUKI MARUs launch 19 F1M2s, each armed with 60-kilogram bombs, escorted by two of KAMIKAWA MARU's A6M2-N Rufes. At 1730, near Lunga Point, Guadalcanal, Gruman F4F-4 “Wildcats” intercepts the Rufes.

That day, three of KAMIKAWA MARU’s A6M2-N pilots, including WO Kawamura and Lt (jg) Kawashima Masashi are lost. One Rufe escapes and the pilot claims two F4Fs, although none are lost.

19 September 1942:
Arrives at Shortland. KAMIKAWA MARU off-loads floatplanes, then departs for Rabaul.

21 September 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

23 September 1942:
Departs for Yokosuka.

1 October 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka. Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Matsuda Takatomo [45] (former CO of IRO) assumes command. Captain Shinoda is reassigned (later CO of TAIYO). During her stay at Yokosuka, she has radar installed.

4 October 1942:
Solomons. An IJN troop convoy bound for Guadalcanal in bad weather is being escorted by A6M2-Ns and F1M2s. The convoy is attacked by USN and Marine aircraft from Henderson Field and USS HORNET (CV-8). As five F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighters of HORNET 's VF-72 are attacking the convoy, one of KAMIKAWA MARU’s F1M2s Petes takes off and climbs under the Americans. Several Wildcats attack the Pete, but its pilot ditches SE of Ballale Island, Bougainville.

8 October 1942:
KAMIKAWA MARU’s Air Unit strength is down to five A6M2-Ns.

12 October 1942:
Departs Yokosuka via Rabaul for Shortland Islands.

18 October 1942:
Arrives at Shortlands, then departs.

19 October 1942:
Arrives at Buin, Bougainville. Bombed by Fifth Air Force B-17 bombers. No damage.

21 October 1942:
Buin. Bombed again by Fifth Air Force B-17 bombers, but not damaged.

30 October 1942:
Buin. Bombed by Fifth Air Force B-17 bombers. No damage.

31 October 1942:
Buin. Bombed by Fifth Air Force B-17 bombers. No damage.

1 November 1942:
Bombed by Fifth Air Force B-17 bombers and slighty damaged.

November 1942:
Shortland. KAMIKAWA MARU's aircrafts' tail code is changed to "L1-xx."

3 November 1942:
Shortland. Designated as the flagship of the 11th Seaplane Tender Division.

7 November 1942:
At Shortland.

Solomons. ComDesDiv 15 Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Sato Torajiro (former CO of SHINONOME) leads a "Tokyo Express" troop reinforcement convoy of 11 destroyers bound for Guadalcanal. His air cover is provided by six A6M2-N Rufes of the 802nd NAG and four of KAMIKAWA MARU's F1M2 Petes. Sato's convoy is attacked by seven Marine SDB dive-bombers of VMSB-132, three USN Grumman TBF "Avenger" torpedo-bombers of HORNET's VT-8 and eight Bell P-39 "Airacobra" fighter-bombers of the USAAF's 67th Fighter Squadron. The American force is escorted by 21 Marine F4F Wildcats of VMF-121. The P-39's jettison their bombs and engage the floatplanes as do the F4Fs.

Marine Captain (later MOH/BrigGen, ANG/Governor, SDak) Joseph J. Foss is leading eight of the escorting Marine Wildcats. His Wildcats engage the Rufes and prepare to strafe the destroyers. Foss climbs to protect his flight and engages a Pete. He shoots it down, but is shot down by the Pete’s rear gunner. Foss’ parachute keeps him afloat until twilight when a native in an outrigger canoe from nearby Malaita Island rescues him. The next day, he is picked up by a PBY “Catalina” flying boat.

The Army pilots claim five floatplanes destroyed that day and the Marines also claim five, including the one by Foss. In fact, rather than 10 floatplanes shot down that day, as claimed by the Americans, the IJN suffers but one of KAMIKAWA MARU's F1M2s lost. The American's attack on the destroyer convoy is unsuccessful, however; and most of the IJA's 1,300 troop reinforcements are landed at Cape Esperance and Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal.

10 November 1942:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (former Co of KONGO) plans to land 14,500 men, heavy weapons and supplies of the IJA's 38th "Hiroshima" Infantry Division and the 8th Special Naval Landing Force on Guadalcanal. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (former CO of KONGO) DesRon 2’s twelve destroyers will escort an 11-ship high-speed reinforcement convoy.

11 November 1942:
Departs Shortland.

20 November 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

28 November 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

4 December 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

5 December 1942:
Departs Truk.

7 December 1942:
Arrives at Shortland.

13 December 1942:
Shortland. KAMIKAWA MARU, depleted of pilots, is assigned as the tender of the 802nd Air Group.

15 December 1942:
Departs Shortland.

18 December 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

19 December 1942:
Departs Truk.

25 December 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

27 December 1942:
Sasebo. Drydocked.

15 January 1943:

21 January 1943:
Departs Sasebo for Shortland via Yokosuka-Truk-Rabaul escorted by DesDiv 22’s FUMIZUKI, NAGATSUKI and SATSUKI.

29 January 1943:
Arrives at Shortland.

1 February 1943:
13th Air Force B-17s with escorting P-38s and P-40s attack shipping off Shortland Island. Twenty Japanese aircraft intercept the Americans and claim nine aircraft destroyed. Bombs damage KAMIKAWA MARU. That same day, KAMIKAWA MARU’s Air Unit’s strength is seven E13A1 and three F1M2s.

February - March 1943:
Departs Shortland for temporary repairs at Rabaul, probably by repair ship YAMABIKO MARU. Later, departs Rabaul for Truk for more repairs by repair ship AKASHI.

5 February 1943:
Arrives at Truk. Undergoes repairs, then departs for Yokosuka.

11 February 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

16 February 1943:
Transferred to Yokohama.

18 February 1943:

1 March 1943:
KAMIKAWA MARU and KUNIKAWA MARU merge into the 938th Air Group. KAMIKAWA MARU serves as an aircraft transport for the Group.

March 1943:
Solomons. FIM2 “Petes” of the 11th Seaplane Tender Division’s KAMIKAWA MARU (under repair in Japan) and KUNIKAWA MARU make nocturnal harassment raids on Guadalcanal. Their engine noise and the explosions of their 60-kg bombs make sleep impossible for American troops around Henderson Field.

15 March 1943:
Undocked. Departs Yokohama for Yokosuka.

22 March 1943:
Departs Yokosuka for Rabaul.

23 March 1943:
Three floatplanes attack Lunga Point, Guadalcanal and Tulagi on nearby Florida Island.

25 March 1943:
Two floatplanes attack Tulagi Harbor.

27 March 1943:
A single floatplane attacks Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal. Meanwhile, photo-reconnaissance missions flown by the USAAF’s 17th Reconnaissance Squadron’s Lockheed F-5As (P-38s) pinpoint the Faisi-Poporang area in the Shortland Islands as the principal IJN seaplane base in the Solomons.

28 March 1943:
A reconnaissance photo shows 27 floatplanes at their moorings in the Shortlands.

29 March 1943:
Poporang Island, Shortlands. A joint-service fighter sweep by led by Captain Tom Lanphier with eight Lockheed P-38 “Lightnings” of the 70th Fighter Squadron, USAAF and eight Marine Chance-Vought F-4U-1 “Corsairs” of VMF-124, USMC hits the Faisi-Poporang seaplane base. They set fire to five to seven Pete floatplanes originally attached to KAMIKAWA and KUNIKAWA MARU and strafe Subchaser No. 28 on their way back to base.

KAMIKAWA MARU departs Truk for Rabaul escorted by light cruiser YUBARI.

1 April 1943: Operation “I-Go” - The Reinforcement of Rabaul:
KAMIKAWA MARU arrives at Rabaul. She is reassigned to the Southeast Area Fleet in the 11th Seaplane Tender Division.

That same day, Admiral (Fleet Admiral, posthumously) Yamamoto Isoroku, CINC, Combined Fleet, orders aircraft from CarDiv 1’s ZUIKAKU and ZUIHO to reinforce the 11th Air Fleet’s base at Rabaul and CarDiv 2’s HIYO and JUNYO to reinforce the base at Ballale Island, near Buin.

15 April 1943:
Reassigned directly to the Southeast Area Fleet.

18 April 1943:
Departs Rabaul with destroyers AKIGUMO and YUGUMO.

21 April 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

22 April 1943:
Departs Truk.

26 April 1943:
Recalled Captain-Retired Hara Seitaro [35] (former CO of KIYOKAWA MARU) is appointed the new CO. Captain Matsuda is reassigned and later is CO of TAIYO.

29 April 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

14 May 1943:
Departs Yokosuka about 1300 (JST). Joins transports HAKOZAKI MARU and TONEI MARU to form convoy No. 3415.

22 May 1943:
Joined by the kaibokan OKI.

23 May 1943:
Arrives at Truk about 1400 (JST). Discharges aircraft, fuel, military equipment and bombs.

26 May 1943:
Departs Truk for Rabaul about 0900 (JST) with remaining cargo of provisions, canteen goods, preserved sake, general cargo and some passengers, escorted by subchasers Ch 12 and 37.

28 May 1943:
N of Kavieng, New Ireland. KAMIKAWA MARU is en route to Palau. At about 1000 (JST) she is attacked at 01-42N, 150-18E by a B-24 that is driven off.

255 n. miles NNW of Kavieng, New Ireland, near Emirau Island. KAMIKAWA MARU is attacked by LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Walter G. Ebert's USS SCAMP (SS-277). At 1203 (JST) at 01-42S 150-18E, in the midst of a heavy squall, she is hit by three torpedoes starboard side; the first in No. 1 hold, second amidships in the engine room and the third in No. 4 hold. She floods, loses engine power and begins settling by the stern. Attempts to take KAMIKAWA MARU in tow are unsuccessful. Abandon Ship is ordered and her crew take to the lifeboats.

29 May 1943:
NNW of Kavieng, New Ireland. At midnight, KAMIKAWA MARU is attacked again by SCAMP. At 0016 she takes another hit at point-blank range portside in her No.2 hold. The list increases rapidly and she rolls over to port. At 0021, KAMIKAWA MARU sinks with 39 sailors and 3 Army civilian employees at 01-36S, 150-24 E.

Captain Hara is KIA. He is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously.

SCAMP survives attacks by one of the submarine chasers escorting her, CH-12 or CH-37.

15 July 1943:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors’ Note:
[1] The survivors float in their dinghy for three weeks, finally getting ashore 260 miles to the south, where they become POWs. In 1945, shortly before the Japanese capitulation, the crew is executed.

Special thanks for assistance in developing this TROM go to Mr. Andrew Obluski of Poland and Mr. Jean-Francois Masson of Canada.

- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Allan Alsleben.

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