(KANO MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2017 Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 2

17 December 1932:
Uraga. Laid down by Uraga Senkyo K.K. Kojo shipyard as a 6,940-ton passenger/cargo ship for Kokusai Kisen K.K., Tokyo.

16 September 1933:
Launched and named KANO MARU. [1]

10 August 1934:
Completed and registered in the port of Tokyo. Her Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) is 6,940-tons and her Net Registered Tonnage (NRT) 3,785-tons. Her registered length and draft are 453.4' and 30.8' (138.2-m x 9.4-m). respectively. [2]

E 1935:
After refit, Her Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) changes to 8,572-tons and her Net Registered Tonnage (NRT) to 5,152-tons. Her registered length and draft change to 456.0' and 40.0' (139.0-m x 12.2-m) respectively. [2].

Placed on Kokusai Kisen’s New York regular run.

12 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJN as a transport (Ippan Choyosen). [3]

1 October 1941:
Registered in the IJN under internal order No. 1168 and attached to the Kure Naval District as an auxiliary transport (Ko) category. Her home port is Kure. That same day, Navy Captain (later Rear Admiral) Miura Tomosaburo (38) (former commander of auxiliary aircraft transport KATSURAGI MARU) is appointed Supervisor. [4]

9 November 1941:
Departs Shibaura, Tokyo.

E November 1941:
Operates in the South Seas area (Japanese mandated islands).

20 November 1941:
Attached to the Combined Fleet, Supply and Support Unit.

24 November 1941:
Arrives at Kure.

1 December 1941:
Assigned to transport Southern Force troops to the Philippines Archipelago. Departs Kure for Palau, western Carolines.

6 December 1941:
Arrives at Palau. Departs later.

6 January 1942: The Invasion of Dutch Borneo:
At 1100, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto’s (39) Tarakan Occupation Force departs Daliao. Hirose's force close escort’s include MineSweepDiv 11’s W-16, W-15, W-13, W-14, MineSweepDiv 30’s W-17 and W-18, SubChasDiv 31’s CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12, patrol boats PB-36, PB-37 and PB-38 and other auxiliary ships.

The Tarakan invasion convoy is organized into two subdivisions:
1st subdivision (right wing unit) consists of KANO (IJN), TSURUGA (IJA), LIVERPOOL (IJA), HITERU (IJA), HANKOW (IJA), EHIME (IJA), and KUNIKAWA (IJN) MARUs and transports MajGen Sakaguchi Shizuo’s Detachment (right wing forces) 56th Mixed Infantry Group elements and the Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF).
The 2nd subdivision (left wing unit) consists of RAKUTO (IJN), HAVANA (IJA), TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG) (IJA), KURETAKE (IJA), NICHIAI (IJA), KAGU (IJN), and KUNITSU (IJN) MARUs and transports the Sakaguchi Detachment (left wing forces), 5th Construction Unit and 2nd Defense Unit. The convoy’s additional escort is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Nishimura Shoji’s (39) DesRon 4’s light cruiser NAKA with DesDiv 2’s HARUSAME, SAMIDARE, YUDACHI and MURUSAME, DesDiv 9’s ASAGUMO and MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO and DesDiv 24’s UMIKAZE, KAWAKAZE, YAMAKAZE and SUZUKAZE. 21st Air Flotilla seaplane tenders SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover.

10 January 1942:
At 1900, both subdivisions arrive at No. 1 anchorage, approximately 16 nms E of Tarakan. In the afternoon, Tarakan Island was visible due the smoke caused by the Dutch destruction of the oilfields and other vital installations. By night the flames are so bright that the island is clearly visible in the dark.

At 1940, the Right Wing and Left Wing Unit board landing craft and start for their landing points. Initially, the Right Wing Unit, mistaking the flames from the Goonoong Tjankool oilfields for those of the Tarakan oilfield, miss its proposed landing point. The Japanese commanders realize their mistake when the landing boats are already returning back to their ships. At 2215, the 2nd subdivision departs No. 1 Anchorage.

11 January 1942:
At 0000, the first Japanese troops (Right Wing Unit) hit the shores on Tarakan Island’s east coast followed by the No. 2 Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) 30 minutes later. After reaching a point about 2 nms N of the mouth of the Amal River, they recognize the position and proceed S to the mouth of the river. They soon overwhelm the small guard patrols guarding this sector. Arriving at the mouth of the river at dawn, the unit makes a shock attack against the Dutch pillbox located there and kills most of the guards, while some Indonesian KNIL soldiers are captured. At 0100, the 2nd subdivision arrives at No. 2 Anchorage.

At 0220, the landing barges cast off from the transport ships and head towards the landing zone on the SE coast of Tarakan. At 0300, the Left Wing Unit lands at the prearranged point and advances W into the jungle toward the rear of the Dutch coastal battery which it is supposed to destroy. Due to the dense jungle and the steep terrain, the unit is able to advance only 100 meters per hour.

During the night, Dutch minelayer PRINS VAN ORANJE tries to escape the confines of Tarakan Island, but is sunk by destroyer YAMAKAZE and patrol boat PB- 38 with heavy loss of life.

12 January 1942:
After the Dutch troops finally surrender, the No. 2 Kure SNLF advances rapidly to the Tarakan airfield and occupies it by the morning. During this advance, the unit is bombed by Dutch bombers from Samarinda II airfield. 18 SNLF marines are killed. At 1200, one infantry company dispatched from the Right Wing Unit also occupy the village of Djoewata which has a Dutch coastal battery located there at the north end of the island. About 1700, after losing its way several times, the Left Wing Unit finally comes out in the rear of the Dutch coastal battery.

IJN forces receive a message that says: "Although the enemy has offered to surrender, it is feared that the coastal battery located at the south end of the island is not aware of this and it would be dangerous to proceed to the Tarakan pier, therefore hold up your sailing". Despite the warning, the movement goes ahead as planned. When the six minesweepers enter the bay, they are fired on by the Dutch coastal battery. W-13 and W-14 are hit by 4.7 inch shells and sink with most of their crew. These are the only IJN losses in this operation.

The IJN commander later promise amnesty for the gun crews. Based on this promise, the Dutch Island Commander persuades them to surrender, but the brutal Imperial Army commander orders the prisoners tied in groups of three and thrown into the water. All 219 Dutch soldiers drown.

Casualties of the IJA (Sakaguchi Detachment) number only seven men KIA on land and one at sea, while the IJN suffers 47 KIA on land and 200 at sea. Of those 47 KIA 18 are killed by the airstrike near the Tarakan airfield. 871 Dutch POWs are captured.

E January 1942:
Departs Tarakan.

24 February 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

1 March 1942:
Attached to the Kure Naval District, Supply Unit.

10 March 1942:
Navy Captain Inutsuka Koreshige (39) is appointed Supervisor.

29 March 1942:
Navy Captain (later rear Admiral) Arima Seiho (33) is appointed Supervisor. Departs Yokosuka.

18 April 1942:
Navy Captain Aiura Seiichi is appointed Supervisor.

25 April 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

26 April 1942:
Navy Captain Aiura Seiichi is appointed CO.

26 April 1942:
Navy Captain Arima disembarks.

7 May 1942:
Loads tiles, gravel and other building materials.

10 May 1942:
Attached to Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35) 2nd Fleet.

E May 1942:
Fitted with one single Type 93 13mm AA MG. [5]

19 May 1942:
Embarks 650 men of the 12th Construction Unit. At 1700 departs Kure with KIRISHIMA, YAMAFUKU MARUs and TOA MARU No. 2 GO escorted by destroyers of 18th DesDiv SHIRANUI and KASUMI.

20 May 1942:
Tests her 13mm AA MG. Off Bungo Suido meets up with NANKAI and ZENYO MARUs both from Moji, who join the convoy.

25 May 1942:
At 0835 arrives at Saipan, Marianas.

28 May 1942: Operation “MI” -The Battle of Midway:
KANO MARU carrying elements of the 12th Construction Unit and related supplies is in Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35) Midway Invasion Force with Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (41) Transport Group’s also consisting of TOA MARU No. 2, KIYOSUMI, ZENYO, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, AZUMA, GOSHU, NANKAI, KEIYO, KIRISHIMA and HOKUROKU MARUs, oiler AKEBONO MARU escorted by DesRon 2’s light cruiser JINTSU with DesDiv 15’s KUROSHIO, OYASHIO, DesDiv 16’s AMATSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, YUKIKAZE and DesDiv 18’s destroyer-transports ARARE, KASUMI and SHIRANUHI.

Rear Admiral Fujita Ruitaro’s (38) 11th Seaplane Tender Division’s CHITOSE and KAMIKAWA MARU provide air cover. The Midway Invasion Force departs Saipan and heads to Midway Islands.

3 June 1942:
The convoy is bombed by nine B-17s. KANO MARU is undamaged. Then the convoy is attacked by torpedo-carrying PBY amphibious patrol planes. AKEBONO MARU is torpedoed and KIYOSUMI MARU is strafed. KANO MARU is again undamaged.

4 June 1942:
The convoy is contacted by PBY P-12; one of eleven VP-44 launched from Midway that morning on a search/strike mission. KANO MARU fires against the PBY with her 7.7mm and 13mm MGs but scores no hits. Seaplane carrier CHITOSE launches three Mitsubishi F1-M "Pete" fighter float biplanes to intercept the flying boat. They engage P-12 at 500 feet and shoot it down into the sea. Lt (j.g.) Robert Whitman and four of his ten-man aircrew are lost. [6]

5 June 1942:
By mistake, KANO MARU’s AA MGs fire on a friendly floatplane without hits scored.

6 June 1942:
Due to IJN’s defeat at Midway, Operation “MI” is cancelled under instruction No. 161.

10 June 1942:
KANO MARU and other transports of the Midway Invasion Force head to Truk, central Carolines, escorted by DesRon 2’s light cruiser JINTSU and DesDiv 16’s AMATSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, YUKIKAZE.

12 June 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

13-14 June 1942:
Unloads materials and other sundries re-allotted to Southern Forces.

15-16 June 1942:
Comes alongside IJA transport YOSHINO MARU’s starboard to receive Southern Forces’ wear equipment to be returned to Japan mainland.

16 June 1942:
Loads six 15cm guns, four 12cm guns, two 25mm guns, four 7.7 MGs and four Daihatsu landing craft. Embarks 247 troops and departs Truk for Yokosuka initially with tanker KYOKUYO MARU.

E June 1942:
KYOKUYO MARU is detached at some point and sails independently, arriving 19 Jun at Yokosuka.

19 June 1942:
Assigned, after arrival at Yokosuka, to Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro's (36) (former CO of MUTSU) 5th Fleet by Secret Instruction No. 32-855.

21 June 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

3 July 1942:
At 1030 departs Yokosuka and transfers to Yokohama at 1230. Tethers to pier.

3-7 July 1942:
Unloads Southern Forces’ wear equipment and weapons.

5 July 1942:
Detached from the 5th Fleet.

7 July 1942:
Transfers troops to auxiliary transport KIKUKAWA MARU. At 1415 departs Yokohama for Osaka without initial escort. At Tokyo Bay’s exit, destroyers KAMIKAZE and HATSUKAZE joins as escort.

8 July 1942:
At 1810 16 nms S of Shionomisaki. Destroyer MURASAME joins as escort and the other destroyers detach. Arrives later that same day at Osaka and tethers at buoy No. 26.

9-10 July 1942:
Loads building materials totaling 1,300-m3.

11 July 1942:
Departs Osaka and arrives later in the day at Ujina, Hiroshima Prefecture. Loads four Daihatsu craft, winter clothes and other sundries.

12 July 1942:
Departs Ujina for Maizuru.

13 July 1942:
Arrives at Maizuru.

14-16 July 1942:
Loads building materials, coal and other sundries.

16 July 1942:
Departs Maizuru and transfers to Higashi-Maizuru. Tethers at buoy No. 6.

17 July 1942:
Starts construction of depth-charge stern racks.

17-18 July 1942:
Loads building materials, coal and other sundries.

19 July 1942:
Departs Higashi-Maizuru for Ominato, Aomori Prefecture.

20 July 1942:
Arrives at Ominato.

21 July 1942:
Loads one Aichi E13A1 “Jake” three-seat reconnaissance floatplane to be delivered to Kiska, Aleutians. Embarks four passengers.

22 July 1942:
Departs Ominato for Kataoka Wan (Bay), Paramushiro, Kuriles (now Zaliv Kozyrevskogo, Ostrov Shumshu) escorted by kaibokan ISHIGAKI.

25 July 1942:
Arrives at Kataoka Wan. Disembarks four passengers.

26 July 1942:
At 1000, departs Kataoka Wan for Attu, Aleutians still escorted by kaibokan ISHIGAKI.

28 July 1942:
At 1400, arrives at Holtz Bay, Attu. Departs later in the day for Attu Island anchorage.

29 July 1942:
Arrives at Attu Island anchorage. Loads Shohatsu landing craft and other sundries. Embarks five passengers. At noon, departs Attu for Kiska escorted by subchaser CH-26. Later that day due to dense fog, contact is lost with the subchaser.

30 July 1942:
At 0800, KANO MARU arrives 22 nms N of Kiska, but heavy fog prevents her approach into Kiska Harbor. She drifts most of the day. At 1530, a float fighter Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" from Kiska’s Toko Kokutai coded ‘O-102’ ditches nearby KANO MARU. The pilot is picked up and KANO MARU winches the fighter aboard with her derrick.

31 July 1942:
Off Kiska, Aleutians. While the dense fog weakens a little, KANO MARU resumes her course to Kiska harbor cruising at 15 knots. At 0547, LtCdr Mannert L. Abele's (USNA’26) (former CO of USS S-31) USS GRUNION (SS-216) on her first war patrol, torpedoes KANO MARU and gets a hit on the starboard machinery room that floods and stops the diesel engine. Two crewmen are KIA.

At 0548, the sub’s periscope is spotted. KANO MARU's 8-cm/40 (3-inch) Type 41 guns and 13mm MGs fire at USS GRUNION, but score no hits. At 0557, Abele fires another unreliable Mark-14 torpedo that runs deep. At 0607, two other torpedoes hit KANO MARU near the machinery room, but fail to explode. Abele attempts to surface and sink KANO MARU by gunfire, but sustains fire from KANO MARU guns and MGs. At 0610, the 8cm gun’s 84th shot hits the conning tower. USS GRUNION crash dives, but Abele's green crew loses depth control. USS GRUNION exceeds crush depth, implodes and is lost. [7].

Later, minelayer ISHIZAKI, subchaser CH-26 and cable layer UKISHIMA arrive on scene and observe much oil, a piece of a lifeguard buoy, submarine deck material and other debris.

At 0735, a crew from ISHIZAKI board KANO MARU and assist with urgent repairs while ISHIZAKI stands by. At 0813, all crewmen, but damage parties and passengers are transferred to ISHIZAKI and leave for Kiska. Aboard KANO MARU, preparation is made for towing. The 5th Guards Unit’s commander orders auxiliary transport KIKUKAWA MARU to tow KANO MARU.

At 1545, KIKUKAWA MARU comes nearby KANO MARU. At 1645, towing preparation is completed and a towline connected. At 1600, towing begins with ISHIZAKI providing escort. At 1735, most of the remaining personnel board ISHIZAKI. At 1900, the towing cable breaks. Later, due to dense fog KIKUKAWA MARU’s captain requests permission to suspend towing. The damaged KANO MARU drifts the entire night on the Bering Sea.

1 August 1942:
At 1100, towing preparation is made again with ISHIZAKI crew’s assistance. At 1206, KIKUKAWA MARU is lashed to KANO MARU’s starboard side to provide buoyancy and support. At 1430, towing is resumed.

2 August 1942:
At 0643, KANO MARU finally arrives in Kiska harbor. The two floatplanes and both 8-cm guns are unloaded. Her remaining cargo is started to be offloaded as well as the barges.

3 August 1942:
Auxiliary store ship HYUGA MARU comes alongside KANO MARU’s starboard side to provide electric power (‘til 5 Aug).

5 August 1942:
HYUGA MARU on starboard and auxiliary gunboat HINO MARU No. 2 on port both transfer KANO MARU’s to anchorage. The damaged ship will later serve as an artificial harbor off the shoreline nearby for Daihatsu and Shohatsu landing craft.

(KANO MARU at Kiska, Aug '42 - Cundall Collection)

7-8 August 1942:
Unloading operations are resumed. That same day, a temporary fire wall is erected by piling “tundra” blocks on the deck.

Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) William W. Smith's (former CoS to Admiral H. E. Kimmel) Task Group 8.6 bombardment group of USS LOUISVILLE (CA-28), USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA-35), USS NASHVILLE (CL-43), USS HONOLULU (CL-48) and USS ST LOUIS (CL-49) and the destroyers USS ELLIOT (DD-146), USS REID (DD-369), USS CASE (DD-370), USS GRIDLEY (DD-380) and USS McCALL (DD-400) shell Kiska, Aleutians. KANO MARU is not further damaged but three Kawanishi H6K “Mavis” flying boats of the Toko Kokutai are destroyed. Japanese batteries do not fire one round because of lack of fire control radar and no visual control due to thick fog. After 30 minutes of intense shelling, Task Group 8.6 withdraws to the south.

12-17 August 1942:
Unloading operations are resumed. When completed, four Daihatsu landing craft, unknown Shohatsu landing craft number and clothing, coal, winter clothes and general cargo totaling about 1,000-m3 have been removed.

19 August 1942:
A MG platoon party is organized from KANO MARU’s crew and sent to the 5th Guards Unit.

25 August 1942:
HYUGA MARU comes alongside KANO MARU to provide electric power.

15 September 1942:
The name of the 5th Guard Unit is changed to 51th Base Force and placed under Rear Admiral Akiyama Katsuzo’s (40) (former CO of heavy cruiser AOBA) command. That same day Kiska harbor is attacked by US aircraft. Two bombs explode nearby KANO MARU and the third one is a near miss on her port side that causes additional damage to the hull.

22 September 1942:
Under worsening weather conditions and with increasing flooding, HYUGA MARU on starboard and auxiliary gunboat FUKUEI MARU No. 10 on port, both try without success to maintain KANO MARU off the shoreline and provide some buoyancy. Nonetheless, the deteriorating conditions soon forces the two ships to abort. At 0430, strong winds and waves drive KANO MARU to the coast. At 0830, she runs aground near South Head under an 80’ high cliff, about 1.5 mile SW of the harbor. At 0900, all remaining crew including her captain abandons ship. At 1430, an inspection deems KANO MARU beyond repair and she is subsequently abandoned.

(KANO MARU wreck, 18 Sep ‘43)

1 July 1943:
Removed from the Navy’s list under internal order No. 1321.

Authors Notes :
[1] Not to be confused with Kano Kisen KK’s freighter (17 1262).
[2] NRT is a ship's cargo volume capacity expressed in "register tons", one of which equals to a volume of 100 cubic feet (2.83 m3). It is calculated by reducing non-revenue-earning spaces i.e. spaces not available for carrying cargo, for example engine rooms, fuel tanks and crew quarters, from the ship's gross register tonnage (GRT). Net register tonnage (NRT) is not a measure of the weight of the ship or its cargo, and should not be confused with terms such as deadweight tonnage or displacement.
[3] See Zatsuyosen home page for full explanation.
[4] There were two categories of Zatsuyosen. (Ko) category with an IJN Captain as supervisor aboard and (Otsu) category without.
[5] KANO MARUs armament varied as follows:
Nov ’41: two 8-cm/40 Type 41 guns, one Vickers 7.7mm “HI” Type, eight Type 95 depth-charges, one 45-cm searchlight.
May ’42: two 8-cm/40 Type 41 guns, one Type 93 single 13mm MG, one Vickers 7.7mm “HI” Type, eight Type 95 depth-charges, one 45-cm searchlight.
Jul ’42: two 8-cm/40 Type 41 guns, three Type 93 single 13mm MG, one Vickers 7.7mm “HI” Type, eight Type 95 depth-charges, stern DC racks, one 45-cm searchlight
[6] Five surviving members of 44-P-12's aircrew were rescued at 1455 (local) 6 June by PBY-5 of VP 23. But unfortunately one of them died the next day, bringing the total KIA to six. PBY 44-P-12 was the only PBY lost in combat with Japanese forces during the battle of Midway.
[7] On 16 Aug 2006, the wreck of USS GRUNION was found at more than 2000 ft N of McArthur Reef, Kiska by fishing vessel AQUILA out of Dutch Harbor using a towed side-scan sonar. The vessel was chartered by the three sons of LtCdr Abele. The cause of USS GRUNION's sinking is based on a Hypothesis Report published on the USS GRUNION Blog. The hypothesis was developed by experts on the GATO class submarine using pictures of USS GRUNION's wreck taken by an ROV in 2007.

The characterization of USS GRUNION's crew as "green" is not meant to be disparaging, but factual. Although LtCdr Abele was a well-experienced submariner, his and other members of his crew's expertise was on earlier "S" type boats, not on the newer GATO type. This was the first patrol on USS GRUNION for all aboard.

On 22 August 2007, AQUILA returned to Kiska and relocated the wreck using an Oceaneering ROV. The wreck was photographed and extensively video-taped revealing a USS GATO-type submarine with a missing bow - undoubtedly USS GRUNION. Months of analyses will follow to determine the most likely cause of her sinking; however, the malfunctioning of several of her Mark 14 torpedoes is known to be a major contributor to USS GRUNION's loss. Much more information and pictures of the wreck are available at Bruce Abele's GRUNION Blog.

Thanks go to Gengoro S. Toda of Japan.

-Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

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