(CLEARTON as seen postwar, built as EMPIRE HAVEN, the same builders and base design as KEMBU MARU. While the hull shape is similar the upperworks would likely have been changed. The funnel would have been smaller and derrick arrangements may be different - Peter Cundall Collection)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2015 Gilbert Casse and Peter Cundall

May 1941:
Hong Kong, British Crown Colony. Laid down by Taikoo Dockyard & Engineering Co. Ltd. for the British Ministry of War Transport as a 6,816-tons cargo ship.

1 December 1941:
Ready to be launched and named EMPIRE BLOSSOM. However engines and boilers are sent to Singapore, Malaya aboard SS ULYSEES of Holt Line.

15 December 1941:
Captured by Japanese Forces. Maintenance directive is implemented under telegram 51-355. Construction will be resumed by Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding K.K. at Hong Kong shipyard as No. 303 ship. The construction apparently uses spare parts from within the shipyard including the rudder stock of ex-British steamer FEDERLOCK (that became FUKUYAMA MARU).

January 1943:
Launched and named KEMBU MARU.

28 February 1943:

March 1943:
Operated by Mitsui Kisen K.K. personnel.

8 March 1943:
Departs Hong Kong.

15 March 1943:
Registered in the IJN as an auxiliary transport attached to the Maizuru Naval District with Maizuru as home port under Navy’s instruction No. 443. Assigned that same day directly to the Navy Department as an auxiliary transport (Otsu) category under secret instruction 590/21. [2]

18 March 1943:
Arrives at Sasebo.

23 March 1943:
Scheduled to be fitted with emergency accommodations for 400 passengers under Sasebo Naval District secret instruction No. 111.

10 April 1943:
Departs Tomie, Nagasaki Prefecture possibly in convoy No. 145 also consisting of auxiliary transport HIROTA MARU and two (three if KEMBU MARU not there) unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer SANAE.

E 15 April 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan).

19 April 1943:
Departs Takao.

23 April 1943:
Arrives at Samah, Hainan Island, southern China.

29 April 1943:
Departs Samah.

30 April 1943:
Arrives at Port Campha, French Indochina (now Cam Pha, Vietnam).

2 May 1943:
Departs Port Campha.

5 May 1943:
Arrives at Bangoi (now Ba Ngoi), Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina.

12 May 1943:
Departs Bangoi and arrives at Cam Ranh later in the day.

21 May 1943:
Departs Cam Ranh.

22 May 1943:
Arrives at Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), French Indochina.

28 May 1943:
Departs Saigon.

29 May 1943:
At 1300, departs St Jacques in convoy No. 499 also consisting of auxiliary emergency tanker HOKUAN MARU, civilian tanker (C-AO) NITTATSU MARU and one unidentified ship escorted by auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU.

4 June 1943:
At 1900, the convoy arrives at Mako but HOKUAN and KEMBU MARUs sail on to Takao.

8 June 1943:
At 1100, departs Takao in convoy No. 270 also consisting of IJN requisitioned emergency tanker (B-AO) TATSUNO MARU, IJA transports SATSUMA and SUEZ MARUs and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan SADO.

13 June 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

14 June 1943:
Arrives at Osaka.

16 June 1943:
Departs Osaka.

19 June 1943:
Arrives at Yokohama.

23 June 1943:
Departs Yokohama and arrives at Yokosuka later that day.

26 June 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

29 June 1943:
Arrives at Muroran, Hokkaido.

2 July 1943:
Departs Muroran.

3 July 1943:
Fires six shells with her deck gun at a periscope sighted about 2.5 nautical miles on the ship’s port bow at position 39-56N, 142-01E.

5 July 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

9 July 1943:
Departs Yokosuka in convoy No. 3709 also consisting of IJN requisitioned cargo ship (B-AK) BOKUYO (MUTSUYO) MARU and one unidentified merchant ship escorted by kaibokan OKI.

22 July 1943:
Arrives at Truk, Central Carolines.

20 August 1943:
Departs Truk in convoy No. 7202 with auxiliary transport SANSEI MARU (3266 gt) escorted by auxiliary gunboat CHOAN MARU No. 2 GO.

26 August 1943:
Arrives at Palau, Western Carolines.

12 September 1943:
Departs Palau and arrives at Garasumao, Babeldaob (Babelthuap) Palaus later that day.

16 September 1943:
Departs Garasumao and arrives at Palau later that same day.

18 September 1943:
Departs Palau in convoy FU-807 also consisting of IJA transports NICHIAI, ASOSAN, SHICHISEI and KURAMASAN MARUs, SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and SHINSEI MARU No. 17 escorted by patrol boat PB-31. The convoy sails at 8.5 knots

E 26 September 1943:
At 30N, 134E the convoy is met by auxiliary minesweepers OI and TAMA MARUs and TAMA MARU No. 7. Later the convoy arrives off Fukajima and is dissolved.

29 September 1943:
Arrives at Niihama, Shikoku.

30 September 1943:
Departs Niihama.

1 October 1943:
Arrives at Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

5 October 1943:
Departs Tokuyama.

9 October 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

20 October 1943:
Departs Yokosuka in convoy No. 3020 also consisting of auxiliary transport AKIBASAN MARU and IJN requisitioned (B-AK) UYO MARU escorted by kaibokan OKI. The convoy sails at 9 knots.

E 27 October 1943:
The convoy is met by auxiliary minesweeper FUMI MARU No. 2 and auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 10 which escort AKIBASAN MARU to Saipan.

31 October 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

7 November 1943:
At 1500, departs Truk via south channel in convoy No. 5075 also consisting of auxiliary storeship KITAKAMI MARU, auxiliary collier/oiler ASAKAZE MARU, IJN requisitioned cargo ship (B-AK) KENSHIN MARU and oiler No. 6010 escorted by subchaser CH-28 and initially auxiliary netlayer KATSURA MARU.

13 November 1943:
At 1520, arrives at Kwajalein, Marshalls.

2 December 1943:
Departs Kwajalein and arrives at Roi-Namur, Marshalls later that day.

4 December 1943:
Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. Aircraft from Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Charles A. Pownall's (USNA ’10) Task Force 50’s USS YORKTOWN (CV-10), LEXINGTON (CV-16) and light carrier USS INDEPENDENCE (CVL-22) attack Kwajalein and Wotje Atolls. They damage auxiliary aircraft transport FUJIKAWA MARU, light cruisers NAGARA and ISUZU, Fleet storeship KINEZAKI and auxiliary transports EIKO and KEMBU MARUs and MIKAGE MARU No. 18, and sink auxiliary collier/oiler ASAKAZE MARU (19 crewmen KIA), auxiliary water carrier TATEYAMA MARU (five crewmen KIA), auxiliary subchaser TAKUNAN MARU No. 7 (five crewmen KIA) and small guardboat MIKUNI MARU No. 5 (unknown casualties).

5 December 1943:
KEMBU MARU sinks at 09-00N, 166-30E with the loss of 19 crewmen.

5 February 1944:
Removed from the IJN Navy’s list under instruction No. 305.

Authors notes :
[1] Not to be confused with IJA transport No. 1025 (953 GRT, ’42). Also known as TATEBU MARU.

[2] There were two categories of Zatsuyosen. (Ko) category with an IJN Captain as supervisor aboard and (Otsu) category without.

Thanks go to Gengoro S. Toda of Japan.

Gilbert Casse and Peter Cundall.

Back to IJN Transports Page