(KWANSAI [KANSAI] MARU, prewar)
Tabular Record of Movement
© 2012-2016 Bob Hackett and Erich Muehlthaler
23 January 1930:
Yokohama. Laid down as building no. 180 at Yokohama Dock Co., Ltd., as an 8,614-ton passenger cargo ship for Kishimoto Kisen K. K., Fuchu.
19 September 1930:
Launched and named KWANSAI MARU.
Completed. She can accommodate five 1st class passengers and carries a crew of 68. Operated by Osaka Shosen Kaisha, K.K. (OSK Line).
KWANSAI MARU departs Kobe on OSK’s Express Freight Service for Los Angeles (San Pedro), California and New York.
27 December 1930:
20 February 1931:
Arrives at Los Angeles, then New York via the Panama Canal.
E March 1932:
KWANSAI MARU departs Kobe for Los Angeles, California and New York.
13 April 1932:
Arrives at Penang, Malaya.
14 April 1932:
15 April 1932:
Arrives at Singapore.
16 April 1932:
E June 1932:
Arrives at Los Angeles, then New York.
16 February 1937:
Sold to Harada Kisen K.K., Fuchu.
25 December 1937:
25 January 1938:
Arrives at New York.
Romanization of KWANSAI MARU kanji is altered to KANSAI MARU.
25 January 1938:
Arrives at Singapore.
28 January 1938:
11 March 1938:
Arrives at New York.
16 November 1938:
Arrives at Yokohama.
2 December 1938:
Arrives at New York.
20 May 1939:
Arrives at New York.
27 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA). Alloted IJA No.858.
1 December 1941:
At 1700, minesweepers W-1, W-5 and W-6 depart Samah to sweep ahead of the planned convoy route. Later the ships are to refuel and replenish at Camranh Bay (Vichy French Indochina) and join the 1st Escort Force at 1530 on 5 December.
2 December 1941:
At 1400, minesweepers W-2, W-3 and W-4 and subchaser CH-9 depart Samah to sweep ahead the planned convoy route. Later the ships are to refuel and replenish at Poulo Condore (east of the south tip of French Indochina) and to join the
1st Escort Force at 0830 on 6 December.
3 December 1941:
At 1900, ASAKASAN and KANSAI MARUs escorted by minelayer HATSUTAKA depart Samah in advance of the main convoy.
4 December 1941:
At 0600, a local sweeping force sweeps for mines and enemy submarines as far as 20 nautical miles out of the harbor. At 0620, KANSAI MARU departs Samah in a convoy consisting of 18 transports carrying LtGen Yamashita Tomoyuki's
(the "Tiger of Malaya") 25th Army to the Gulf of Thailand escorted by the 1st Escort Force light cruiser SENDAI,DesDiv 12´s SHIRAKUMO, SHINONOME and MURAKUMO, DesDiv 19´s AYANAMI, URANAMI, ISONAMI and SHIKINAMI, DesDiv 20´s AMAGIRI,
ASAGIRI, YUGIRI and SAGIRI, MinSwpDiv 1´s W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4, W-5 and W-6, SubChaDiv 11´s CH-7, CH-8 and CH-9 and the 9th Base Force's minelayer HATSUTAKA. The convoy carries the Kra Isthmus, Singora, Patani and Kota Bharu Invasion
Immediately after departure CH-7 develops engine troubles and has to return to Samah. CH-7 is ordered to chase after the convoy as soon as repairs are finished. DesDiv 19´s four destroyers go ahead at 16 knots sweeping. CH-8 is
in the lead of the main convoy.
Distant cover is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo's (38)(former CO of KONGO) Escort Force Main Body ofCruDiv 7’s KUMANO, SUZUYA, MIKUMA and MOGAMI and DesDiv 11´s HATSUYUKI, SHIRAYUKI and FUBUKI. This
force steams 30 nautical miles portside ahead of the main convoy. Air cover is provided from seaplane tenders SANYO, SAGARA and KAMIKAWA MARUs.
At 0800, the main convoy attains full steaming formation.
5 December 1941:
At 1500, W-1, W-5 and W-6 join the main convoy after refuelling and replenishing at Poulo Condore. 
6 December 1941:
At 0700, W-2, W-3, W-4 and CH-9 join the main convoy about 70 nautical miles east of Poulo Condore.
At 0900, the "Hatsutaka convoy" (minelayer HATSUTAKA and transports ASAKASAN and KANSAI MARUs) joins the main convoy.
En route the convoy and its escorts split into the respective Invasion Units and head for their assigned landing and covering points.
The IJA Singora Invasion Unit is under command of LtGen Yamashita Tomoyuki’s 25th Army. Troops involved were elements of 5th Division (5th HQ Company, Kawamura Detachment Brigade, 5th Engineer Battalion, 5th Rec Battalion, 1st
Tank Battalion with 37 Med Type 97 and 20 Light Type 95 tanks, 9th Railroad Eng Battalion, 11th Engineer Battalion and various Air units. Troops are carried by Army landing craft depot ship SHINSHU (RYUJO) MARU and Army transports
KANSAI, AOBASAN, ASAKA, ATSUTASAN, KYUSHU, NAMINOUE, NAKO, SADO and SASAGO MARUs. One Ship AA Regiment and one Ship Signal Regiment are also carried on the transports.
7 December 1941:
At 2340, KANSAI MARU arrives at Singora (Songkhla), Siam (Thailand) with the Singora Invasion Unit consisting of transports SADO, KASHII, KYUSHU, SHINSHU (RYUJO), KANSAI, NAKAO, ASAKASAN and SASAKO
MARUs escorted by DesDivs 12’s SHIRAKUMO, SHINONOME and MURAKUMO, 19 and DesDiv 20’s AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI,
YUGIRI, minelayer HATSUTAKA (F), MinSwpDiv 1’s W-1, W-4, W-6 and W-8. Air cover is provided by seaplane tenders KAMIKAWA, SAGARA and SANYO
The Singora invasion convoy is directly followed by 9th Base Force ships minelayer HATSUTAKA and supply ships EIKO and NOJIMA MARUs. 
8 December 1941:
At 0410, the Invasion Unit lands elements of Yamashita’s 25th Army and LtGen Matsui Takuro’s 5th Infantry Divison's 9th and 21st Infantry Brigades without strong opposition.
9 January 1942:
At 0800, KANSAI, CANBERRA and NAGARA MARUs depart Ling-Ting (Lintin) Island Anchorage (Pearl River Mouth), in a convoy also consisting of eight unidentified troop transports escorted by light cruiser SENDAI, DesDiv 19's SHIKINAMI and
DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI, AMAGIRI and YUGIRI. The convoy is to unload ground forces at Singora, but CANBERRA and KANSAI MARUs are to proceed to Endau (Operation S) carrying troops of the 18th Division and personnel of the 96th Airfield
Battalion assigned to make Kahang and Kluang airfields operational.
10 January 1942:
At 1600, convoy arrive at Camranh Bay.
20 January 1942:
At 1600, KANSAI and CANBERRA MARUs depart Camranh Bay, Indochina in a convoy also consisting of nine unidentified troop transports escorted by DesDiv 11's FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI and SHIRAYUKI, DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI, AMAGIRI and YUGIRI and
minesweepers W-1, W-3 and W-4.
The convoy is to unload ground forces at Singora, but CANBERRA and KANSAI MARUs are to proceed to Endau carrying troops of the 18th Division and personnel of the 96th Airfield Battalion assigned to make Kahang and Kluang
At 2120, a spontaneous accidental ignition occurrs in one of CANBERRA MARU´s holds. The crew succeeds in extinguishing the flames after 20 minutes. There is only slight damage to CANBERRA MARU.
22 January 1942:
At 1800, the convoy arrives at Singora.
24 January 1942:
At 2300, KANSAI and IJA transport CANBERRA MARUs depart Singora.
25 January 1942: Operation "R" - The Invasion of the Anambas Islands:
The Anambas Islands are to be used as an advanced naval base and probably a seaplane base for the Malaya and Dutch East Indies campaigns. At the same time, landings at Endau in the southern Malayan peninsula are to take place.
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo's (38)(former CO of KONGO) invasion force consists of KANSAI and CANBERRA MARUs and IJN NOJIMA MARU escorted destroyers AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, YUGIRI and minesweepers W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4
26 January 1942:
Arrives at Anambas Islands. The landings proceed without opposition.
At 1045, that same day, the main invasion convoy arrives off Endau and immediately starts unloading. At 1330, the first phase of unloading is accomplished.
At 1630, 3 enemy fighters, 4 to 6 Lockheed light bombers and 12 biplanes arrive at the scene and attack the convoy. IJA fighters claim 2 of the attackers shot down. KANSAI and CANBERRA MARU´s are both hit but sustain only
light damage. At 1850, 12 further biplanes attack the convoy but covering IJA fighters claim at least 6 of the biplanes shot down.At 1940, three enemy fighters attack KANSAI MARU, but hit a landing barge lying alongside her, several
soldiers in the barge are wounded.
At 1950, 6 enemy Lockheed light bombers are repelled by IJA fighters. The heavy air attacks caused following personnel casualties on board the transports KANSAI and CANBERRA MARUs. On KANSAI MARU, one man is seriously wounded
and about a dozen lightly wounded while on CANBERRA MARU, 8 are KIA and 7 wounded.
27 January 1942: The Battle off Endau:
Singapore. LtCdr B. S. Davies' WW1 destroyer HMS THANET and LtCdr W. T. A. Moran's HMAS VAMPIRE are dispatched to make a night attack on the troop tansports at Endau, about 80 miles N
of Singapore. At 0318, VAMPIRE sights destroyer SHIRAYUKI to port and launches two torpedoes at her, but they both miss. THANET launches all four of her torpedoes, but also misses. Both Allied destroyers open fire with their 4-inch
guns. Light cruiser SENDAI and destroyer SHIRAYUKI return fire. The Allied destroyers retire
to the SE at maximum speed.
At about 0400, THANET is hit in the engine and boiler rooms. Her speed falls off and an explosion wrecks the old destroyer. She goes dead in the water, lists heavily to starboard and begins to sink. VAMPIRE lays a smoke screen,
but THANET is attacked by destroyers FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI, ASAGIRI, AMAGIRI, YUGIRI and minesweeper W-1. At 0415, HMS THANET sinks. VAMPIRE is undamaged and without
casualties, but has no chance to pick up survivors. She makes for Singapore, arriving at 1000.
Later, SHIRAYUKI picks up 31 survivors from HMS THANET. They are never seen again. SHIRAYUKI also takes on board the wounded seamen from KANSAI and CANBERRA MARUs and proceeds to Camranh Bay.
28 January 1942:
At midnight, KANSAI MARU completes unloading and depart s the No. 2 Endau Anchorage escorted by W-2 and W-3. The two minewseepers finish escort duty near Pulau Tenggol (an island about 130 km N of Endau) and proceed to the Anambas
Islands. At 1200, CANBERRA MARU completes unloading and departs the No. 2 Endau Anchorage escorted by SENDAI, DesDiv 11´s HATSUYUKI and FUBUKI and DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI. These escorts also finish escort duty near Pulau Tenggol.
20 February 1942:
At 1600, KANSAI MARU departs Camranh Bay in the
10th Malaya Reinforcement Convoy consisting of two divisions: 1st division: KANSAI, AOBASAN, NAKO, KYUSHU, SADO and NAGARA MARUs; 2nd division: CANBERRA, HIROKAWA, SAGAMI, SAKITO, and SASAKO MARUs. The convoy is escorted by light
cruiser SENDAI and destroyers FUBUKI and SHIKINAMI.
22 February 1942:
At 1800, both divisions arrive at Singora.
26 March 1942:
At 1300, KANSAI MARU departs Mutsure in a convoy bound for Takao and then the Philippines also consisting of BOSTON, CEYLON, GENZAN, TENSHO, TOBA, TOSHO, TOYO and YASUSHIMA MARUs escorted by destroyer WAKATAKE.
9 April 1942:
KANSAI MARU arrives at Saigon.
16 April 1942:
Departs Saigon for Singapore.
3 June 1942:
KANSAI MARU departs Mutsure in the RIKU convoy also consisting of AKIURA, KINUKAWA, SAGAMI and SHINANOGAWA MARUs escorted by destroyers FUYO and WAKATAKE and torpedo boats SAGI and HAYABUSA.
8 June 1942:
Arrives at Manila.
26 June 1942:
At 0400, KANSAI MARU departs Manila for Kure in Convoy "D" also consisting of DAIFUKU (TAIFUKU), KINUGAWA, NAKO, and SHINANOGAWA MARUs escorted by patrol boats PB-31 and PB-46. The convoy is carrying 4th Division HQ and 22nd Infantry Regiment.
30 June 1942:
Convoy “D” passes "Point E" (29-00N, 132-00E).
2 July 1942:
Arrives at Kure.
9 July 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.
12 July 1942:
KANSAI MARU departs Mutsure-Jima Anchorage for Mako in convoy consisting of CHOKO, CHIKUZEN, ZENYO, SHINANOGAWA, KONE, KINUGAWA, OSAKA and NAKO MARUs. On the way, OSAKA MARU peels off from the convoy and proceed to Kirun.
17 July 1942:
Convoy arrives at Mako.
3 June 1943:
KANSAI MARU departs northern Kyushu for Shanghai in convoy SHI-310 also consisting of DAIYA, GYOTEN, NARUO (ex-Panamanian ESTERO purchased prewar), REKIZAN, ROKKO, and TOTAI, UNZEN and YAMAYURI MARUs and KOTO MARU No. 2 GO escorted by
5 June 1943:
At 1400, arrives at Fairway Bell Buoy, near Shanghai.
10 June 1943:
KANSAI MARU departs Woosung, near Shanghai, China in a convoy also consisting of KITSURIN and IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARUs with unknown escort.
20 June 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.
23 July 1943:
KANSAI and NISSHO MARUs depart Surabaya for Ambon escorted by an unidentified minesweeper.
27 July 1943:
Arrive at Ambon.
28 July 1943:
KANSAI and NISSHO MARUs depart Ambon for Palau escorted by an unidentified destroyer.
2 August 1943:
Arrive at Palau.
4 August 1943:
KANSAI MARU departs Palau for Saeki in convoy FU-404 also consisting of AOBASAN, NISSHO and NIGITSU MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HATO.
10 August 1943:
At 31-30N, 134-00E, minelayer NUWAJIMA joins the escort of convoy FU-404 consisting of KANSAI, NISSHO, NIGITSU and AOBASAN MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HATO. Later that day, auxiliary minesweepers TAKUNAN
MARU No. 8 and TAMA MARU No. 7 join the escort at 31-40N, 133-30E. Arrives at Saeki the same day.
11 August 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.
23 August 1943:
KANSAI MARU departs Ujina for Saeki.
26 August 1943:
KANSAI MARU departs Saeki for Palau in convoy O-603 also consisting of transport KINUGASA MARU and IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU escorted by kaibokan IKI and minesweeper W-33.
27 August 1943:
At 29N, W-33 is detached.
1 September 1943:
Arrives at Palau.
4 September 1943:
KANSAI MARU departs Palau in convoy N-404 also consisting of transports AMAGISAN and KINUGASA MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU escorted by subchasers CH-16 and CH-38.
9 September 1943:
The convoy arrives at Rabaul.
16 September 1943:
KANSAI MARU departs Rabaul for Palau escorting convoy O-602A also consisting of IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU escorted by subchaser and CH-38. KANSAI MARU is carrying 1,024 soldiers.
18 September 1943:
N of Manus, Admiralty Islands. At 1700, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Walter G. Ebert's (USNA ’30) USS SCAMP (SS-277) attacks the convoy, Ebert fires two torpedoes and gets one hit. At about 1730,
Abandon Ship is ordered. SCAMP passes close under KANSAI MARU, trying to evade the escorts, but comes under machine gun fire from the transport. SCAMP escapes, but loses undamaged MAYASAN MARU in a rain squall.
19 September 1943:
At about 0200, KANSAI MARU sinks at 00-41N, 146-28E. 23 troops and one crewman are KIA.
At 0925, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message fromSubchaser Div 24 that reads: “As a result of torpedo attacks at 1909, 2130 and 2200, KANSAI MARU sank. 265 survivors including captain taken on board subchaser No.
38 and No. 16. At 0830 convoy (rejoined position) 01-03 N, 146-27 E.”
 DesDiv 19 is vanguard force sweeping directly ahead of convoy at 16 knots. Destroyer SAGIRI is detached and with cruiser CHOKAI forms a “Special Purpose Force” steaming in the vicinity of the main convoy.
 The initially planned replenishing location of Camranh Bay had been altered to Poulo Condore.
 Ships' landing positions: ASAKASAN MARU was the reference ship, positioned 3.700 meters 60 degrees from Singora lighthouse. In a line following 140 degrees from ASAKAN MARU at distances of 700 meters each are SASAKO,
KYUSHU, AOBASAN, SADO and NAMINOUE MARUs. 700 meters 50 degrees from ASAKASAN MARU starts the outer line beginning with NAKO MARU. In a line following 140 degrees (parallel from the inner line of ships) from NAKO MARU at distances of each 700 meters are ATSUTASAN, KASHII, SHINSHU and KANSAI MARU.
Thanks go to the late John Whitman for info on CNO intercepts of Japanese messages.
- Bob Hackett and Erich Muehlthaler
to IJA Transports