(KIBITSU MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

IJA Landing Craft Depot Ship KIBITSU MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2010-2012 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 1

18 June 1942:
Innoshima. Laid down at Hitachi Shipbuilding as a 9,574-ton Standard Type 1 MA cargo ship for Nippon Kaiun, K. K., Tokyo. Requisitioned by the IJA and converted on the stocks to a landing craft depot ship. The ship is fitted with stern doors to launch landing craft and has two funnels side-by-side.

18 July 1943:
Launched and named KIBITSU MARU.

29 December 1943:

7 January 1944:
Departs Ujina.

18 January 1944:
Departs Osaka.

20 January 1944:
At 1200, KIBITSU and MAYASAN MARUs depart Moji in convoy HI-37 also consisting of passenger cargo ships MIIKE, NOTO MARUs and tankers OMINESAN, AMATSU and TENSHIN MARUs escorted by kaibokan MIYAKE and KANJU.

The convoy carries elements of the 53rd Division's 3rd Echelon: Division headquarters (main); Hq, 119th Infantry; 3rd Battalion, 119th Infantry; 53rd Engineer Regiment and 53rd Signal Regiment and troops of unknown units.

25 January 1944:
Arrives at Manila. KIBITSU and MAYASAN MARUs are detached.

2 February 1944:
Departs Manila, probably in convoy MATA-01 consisting of tanker SAN PEDRO MARU and two unidentified ships (likely KIBITSU and MAYASAN MARUs) escorted by destroyer WAKATAKE.

4 February 1944:
MATA-01 arrives at Takao.

7 February 1944:
Departs Kirun (Keelung), probably in convoy TAMO-01A that departs Kirun (Keelung) consisting of three unidentified merchant ships (likely including KIBITSU and MAYASAN MARUs) escorted by kaibokan SADO.

12 February 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

13 February 1944:
Arrives at Ujina.

20 February 1944
Departs Ujina.

May 1944:
Arrives at Fusan (Pusan), Chosen (Korea).

May 1944:
Departs Fusan and probably arrives at Moji later that day.

13 May 1944:
At 0400, KIBITSU MARU departs Moji in convoy HI-63 also consisting of cargo liners/transports SANUKI, SANYO, AWA, USSURI and NISSHO MARUs, TEIA (ex French ARAMIS), landing craft depot ship TAMATSU MARU, tankers KYOKUHO, RYOEI and OTOWASAN MARUs escorted by kaibokan IKI, MATSUWA, CD-9 and CD-15.

KIBITSU, TAMATSU and NISSHO MARUs carry troops of the IJA’s 30th Division. The other transports carry troops of unknown units bound for Burma.

18 May 1944:
At 1800, arrives at Manila. KIBITSU, TAMATSU, SANYO and NISSHO MARUs are detached.

21 May 1944:
Departs Manila.

23 May 1944:
Arrives at Cagayan Island, Luzon, PI.

24 May 1944:
Departs Cagayan Island. Soon after IKI is torpedoed and sunk by USS RATON and MATSUWA damaged in the same attack. Later that day the convoy arrives at Cebu, PI.

27 May 1944:
Departs Cebu.

29 May 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

9 June 1944:
At 2300 departs Manila with KASHII MARU and unknown escort.

10 June 1944:
At 1500 joins up with convoy believed to be HI-64 then consisting of tanker OTOWASAN MARU and probably tanker NIYO MARU and transport TEIA MARU (ex French ARAMIS) and one unidentified merchant ship escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA and CD-9.

15 June 1944:
At 0600 convoy HI-64 arrives at Moji.

18 June 1944:
Arrives at Ujina.

20 June 1944:
Departs Ujina.

22 June 1944:
Arrives at Fusan. Probably loads troops.

26 June 1944:
Departs Fusan.

29 June 1944:
Arrives at Innoshima. Probably undergoes maintenance and/or modification at Hitachi Shipbuilding’s yard.

28 July 1944:
Departs Ujina.

8 August 1944:
Arrives at Moji then moves to nearby Mutsure.

10 August 1944:
KIBITSU, TAMATSU and MAYASAN MARUs depart Imari Bay (Moji) for Singapore in convoy HI-71 comprised of fleet oiler HAYASUI, oilers AZUSA, TEIYO, EIYO, ZUIHO, KYOKUTO and NIYO MARUs and HAKKO MARU No. 2, food-supply ship IRAKO, transports TEIA (ex French ARAMIS), AWA, ORYOKU, NOTO, HOKKAI and NOSHIRO and cargo ships KASHII, NISSHO MARUs escorted by destroyers FUJINAMI and YUNAGI, kaibokan HIRATO, KURAHASHI, MIKURA, SHONAN and CD-11 and escort carrier TAIYO. The 631st Naval Air Group provides air cover with 12 BN5 Kate torpedo-bombers.

KIBITSU MARU suffers an engine breakdown. Briefly puts into Nagasaki for repairs and departs later in the day.

15 August 1944:
HI-71 arrives at Mako, Pescadores. HAKKO MARU No. 2, NIYO and ORYOKU MARUs and IRAKO are detached.

25 August 1944:
At 0630, KIBITSU MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-73 also consisting of ex-armed merchant cruiser GOKOKU MARU, ex-seaplane tenders KAGU and SANUKI MARUs, tankers TOHO, HAKKO, OTOWASAN, OMUROSAN, TAIHO, FUJISAN, AMATO, TOA and KUROSHIO MARUs and fleet store ship IRAKO escorted by escort carrier UNYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, CD-1, CD-13, CD-19, CD-21 and CD-27.

Later that day, the convoy is joined briefly by transports MIZUHO, ARABIA and KOKURYU MARUs and tanker MANEI MARU.

26 August 1944:
At 0900, MIZUHO, ARABIA and KOKURYU MARUs are ordered away because of excessive smoke. CD-1 also detaches for Sasebo. MANEI MARU remains at Kyushu because of engine problems.

29 August 1944:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa. Departs that same day and arrives at Saei (Tsoying) (near Takao).

30 August 1944:
KUROSHIO and TAIHO MARU are detached and put in to Takao. FUJISAN MARU is also detached with engine problems.

1 September 1944:
Off Saei, Formosa. The convoy splits. KIBITSU, GOKOKU and KAGU MARUs (and probably IRAKO) head for Manila. The remaining ships head for Singapore.

2 September 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

6 September 1944:
At 0630, convoy HI-72 departs Singapore for Moji consisting of ASAMA, NANKAI, RAKUYO, ZUIHO, SHINCHO and KACHIDOKI (ex US PRESIDENT HARRISON) MARUs escorted by Rear Admiral (Vice Asmiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi's (39)(victor of Wake Island and former CO of KISO) 6th Escort Convoy Command’s destroyer SHIKANAMI, kaibokan HIRADO (F), KURAHASHI, MIKURA, CD-11 and auxiliary subchaser CHa-19.

10 September 1944:
KIBITSU MARU departs Manila for Moji in unescorted convoy MAMO-03 also consisting of armed merchant cruiser GOKOKU MARU and transport (ex-seaplane tender) KAGU MARU.

11 September 1944:
S China Sea. 100 miles NE of the Paracel Islands. At 0910, convoy HI-72 is joined by unescorted convoy MAMO-03. At 0918 minesweeper W 21 joins escort briefly.

12 September 1944:
S China Sea. E of Hainan, China. At 0155, Cdr Thomas B. Oakey’s (USNA ’34) USS GROWLER (SS-215) torpedoes and sinks flagship HIRADO at 17-54N, 114-59E. Rear Admiral Kajioka and 106 crewmen go down with their ship. Kajioka is promoted Vice Admiral, posthumously. At 0500, LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Eli T. Reich’s (USNA ’35) USS SEALION (SS-315) torpedoes RAKUYO MARU, but she stays afloat for another 13 hours, sinking at 1820 that evening. She is carrying 1,318 Allied POWs, of whom 1,051 are lost in addition to nine crewmen. Reich also torpedoes and sinks NANKAI MARU. The ship is carrying 525 passengers, 6,500-tons of bauxite, 4,000 gasoline drums, 77 mail parcels and 18 funerary urns. A big explosion from the gasoline drums in No. 6 hold engulfs the ship with fire and her depth-charges on stern explode as well. NANKAI MARU goes dead in the water due to mechanical breakdown caused by the shock of explosion. From the exploding ship, passengers jump in the sea. NANKAI MARU manages to float several hours but finally sinks by the stern at 0845 in position 18-15N, 114-21E, taking with her 196 passengers and three crewmen.

240 miles south of Hong Kong. At about 0700, SHIKINAMI is torpedoed by USS GROWLER and sinks at 18-16 N, 114-40 E. MIKURA rescues eight officers and 120 men but her CO, LtCdr Takahashi Tatsuhiko (61) and an unknown number of other crewmen are KIA. At 2254, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Paul E. Summers' USS PAMPANITO (SS-383) torpedoes and sinks KACHIDOKI MARU with 950 Allied POWs aboard. 12 crewmen, 431 POWs and 45 passengers are lost. USS PAMPANITO also sinks ZUIHO MARU at 19-23N, 111-50E. There are no casualties, but her 8,000-tons cargo of needed aviation gas and oil is lost. The Japanese rescue their crewmen and a few POWs from the two prison ships. The survivors are transferred to KIBITSU MARU. [1]

13 September 1944:
Arrives at Samah, Hainan Island.

15 September 1944:
Arrives at Yulin, Hainan Island. The convoy is reorganized. KURAHASHI is detached.

16 September 1944:
KIBITSU MARU departs Yulin for Moji in the 1st echelon of reorganized convoy HI-72 also consisting of ASAMA, GOKOKU and KAGU MARUs escorted by kaibokan MIKURA, ETOROFU, CD-10, CD-11, CD-18 and CD-26. GASSAN, SEIZAN and HAKUSAN MARUs split from the convoy and later that day arrive at Keelung.

17 September 1944:
At 1300, arrives at Takao.

20 September 1944:
Off Formosa. At 0110, USAAF B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers attack the convoy’s first echelon (Moji-bound) at 23-20N, 119-12E. GOKOKU MARU is damaged by a direct hit and ASAMA MARU suffers a near miss aft. Both are towed into nearby Mako for repairs. The bombers also damage cargo vessels ASAKA and SHINCHO MARUs. KAGU MARU suffers hull damage by near-misses. She heads for Takao for repairs escorted by CD-10, CD-11 and CD-20. Kaibokan MIKURA is damaged and towed to Mako by CD-18 escorted by CD-26. KIBITSU MARU escapes damage and arrives at Kirun later that day.

25 September 1944:
At 1300, modified convoy HI-72 (partial) consisting of KIBITSU and KAGU MARUs departs Takao for Moji escorted by kaibokan CD-10, CD-11 and CD-20.

27 September 1944:
East China Sea, 100 miles NNW of Amami-O-Shima. LtCdr Clyde B. Stevens Jr's (USNA ’30) USS PLAICE (SS-390) torpedoes and sinks CD-10 at 29-26N, 128-50E. CD-11 rescues survivors.

28 September 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

1 October 1944:
Arrives at Aioi and presumably undergoes repairs.

15 October 1944:
Departs Ujina.

17 October 1944:
Arrives at Fusan.

18 October 1944:
Departs Fusan.

20 October 1944:
Arrives at Ujina.

23 October 1944:
Departs Ujina.

25 October 1944:
Arrives at Fusan.

26 October 1944:
Departs Fusan.

28 October 1944:
Arrives at Ujina.

29 October 1944:
Departs Ujina.

31 October 1944:
Arrives at Fusan.

1 November 1944:
Departs Fusan.

3 November 1944:
Arrives at Ujina.

6 November 1944:
Departs Ujina.

7 November 1944:
Arrives at Fusan.

9 November 1944:
Departs Fusan and later that day arrives at Moji.

14 November 1944:
KIBITSU MARU departs Imari Bay for Singapore in convoy HI-81 also consisting of HASHIDATE, SHINSHU, AKITSU, ARITA, OTOWASAN, KIYOKAWA, MAYASAN, MIRI and TOA MARUs escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, destroyer KASHI and kaibokan ETOROFU (F), TSUSHIMA, DAITO, KUME, SHONAN, CD-9 and CD-61. The convoy stops overnight at Goto Island.

KIBITSU MARU is carrying about 4,500 men aboard of HQ, 72nd Infantry, 1st and 2nd Battalions, 72nd Infantry, 3rd Battalion, 64th Infantry and 2nd Battery, 2nd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Regiment.

15 November 1944:
Departs Goto Island. Escort carrier SHINYO takes up position at the rear of the center of three columns of vessels. At 1156, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles E. Loughlin's (USNA ’33) USS QUEENFISH (SS-393) torpedoes and sinks AKITSU MARU with the loss of 2,093 men of 2500 men of the IJA's 64th Infantry Regiment, 67 crewmen, 140 gunners and the load of IJA's 20th Sea Raiding Battalion 104 “Maru-ni” explosive motor boats (EMB). SHINYO's planes attempt to locate and destroy the submarine, but fail to find her. Landing craft depot ship SHINSHU MARU drops depth charges during and after the sinking of AKITSU MARU.

16 November 1944:
Off Korea. The convoy anchors near Strange Island and shelters there.

17 November 1944:
At 0800, convoy HI-81 departs for the Shushan Islands near Shanghai. At 1815, LtCdr (later Cdr) Evan T. Shepard’s (USNA ’35) USS PICUDA (SS-382) torpedoes and sinks MAYASAN MARU with the loss 56 crewmen, 194 gunners and 3,187 troops of the 4,387 troops and 204 horses of IJA’s 23rd Division she was carrying. All “Maru-ni” explosive motor boats (EMB) of the IJA's 24th Sea Raiding Battalion are also lost. At 2309, LtCdr (later Captain) Gordon W. Underwood’s (USNA ’32) USS SPADEFISH (SS-411) torpedoes and sinks escort carrier SHINYO with the loss of 1,130 officers and men. Escort destroyer KASHI counterattacks with uncertain results, then rescues with kaibokan TSUSHIMA about 200 survivors.

18 November 1944:
At 0315, kaibokan TSUSHIMA attacks a submarine with fifteen depth-charges. At 1600, the convoy arrives at an anchorage E of Shanghai.

21 November 1944:
The convoy departs for Mako, Pescadores.

23 November 1944:
Formosa Strait. The convoy anchors in the Nanjih Channel.

24 November 1944:
At 0730, departs the Nanjih area. At about noon, while E of the Pescadores, SHINSHU, KIBITSU and KIYOKAWA MARUs, escorted by kaibokan TSUSHIMA and DAITO, are detached as planned from HI-81.

26 November 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

30 November 1944:
At 2104, departs Takao for Manila in convoy TAMA-33 consisting of Army landing craft depot ships SHINSHU and KIBITSU MARUs escorted by kaibokan TSUSHIMA and DAITO, CD-14, CD-16, CD-134, CD-46 and minesweeper W-101.

1 December 1944:
As a result of air raids on Manila, convoy TAMA-33 is directed to puts its troops ashore at San Fernando, Luzon. At 2205, the convoy anchors at Pamocctan.

2 December 1944:
At 0630, the convoy departs Pamocctan for San Fernando where it arrives at 2240.

4 December 1944:
At 0830 (JST), KIBITSU MARU departs San Fernando in convoy MAMO-05 also consisting of Army landing craft depot ship SHINSHU MARU escorted by kaibokan TSUSHIMA and possibly others. That night shelters at Lapoc Bay.

5 December 1944:
Departs Lapoc Bay and later that day arrives at Camiguin Island before departing.

6 December 1944:
Arrives off Fangliao.

7 December 1944:
Departs Fangliao and later that day arrives Takao.

8 December 1944:
Departs Takao in convoy MAMO-05 with KIYOKAWA, TEIRITSU (ex French LECONTE DE LISLE) and Army landing craft depot ship SHINSHU MARUs with unknown escort. That night anchors off Mako.

10 December 1944:
Departs Mako.

12 December 1944:
Arrives at Sanmen Wan (Bay) and departs later that day.

14 December 1944:
Arrives at Imari Wan.

15 December 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

19 December 1944:
At 1330, KIBITSU MARU departs Moji in convoy MOTA-38 consisting of Army landing craft depot ships HYUGA and SHINSHU MARUs and Army transport AOBASAN MARU with convoy HI-85 consisting of tankers SERIA and SHINYU MARUs, all escorted by light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan DAITO, UKURU, CD-23, CD-27 and CD- 51. The convoy hugs the littoral coast on the way south.

25 December 1944:
At 1440, enters Takao port. Later that day KIBITSU MARU departs Takao in convoy TAMA-38 also consisting of HYUGA, AOBASAN and SHINSHU MARUs escorted by kaibokan MIYAKE, NOMI and CD-138.

26 December 1944:
At daybreak, the convoy anchors near Oluanpi, southern Formosa.

27 December 1944:
Departs Oluanpi and later that day arrives off Batan Island.

28 December 1944:
Departs Batan Island.

29 December 1944:
At 1900, arrives North San Fernando.

30 December 1944:
At 0700, B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers attack the port and convoy. Kaibokan CD-138 is hit by a bomb. AOBASAN MARU carrying elements of the IJA’s 19th Infantry Division, is bombed and a fire breaks out. The ship then breaks in two and sinks taking down three crewmen, one gunner and 21 troops. The convoy is dissolved.

1 January 1945:
At 0345, KIBITSU MARU departs North San Fernando in convoy MATA-40 also consisting of IJA landing craft depot ships SHINSHU and HYUGA MARUs escorted by kaibokan KANJU, MIYAKE, NOMI, CD-112 and two unidentified warships.

3 January 1945:
Off Takao. At 1105 (JST), 50 carrier aircraft attack the ships. KIBITSU MARU is heavily damaged and HYUGA MARU suffers medium damage. SHINSHU MARU is hit by several bombs and explodes. 33 crewmen, 66 gunners and 283 soldiers are KIA. Later that night, SHINSHU MARU's burning wreck is torpedoed and sunk by LtCdr Henry C. Stevenson's (USNA ’30) USS ASPRO (SS-309). MIYAKE and CD-112 both suffer light damage. The surviving ships put into Takao for repairs.

21 January 1945:
At 0300, YUTA-15 departs Yulin for Moji in convoy consisting of TEIHOKU (ex-French PERSEE) and AKISHIMA MARUs escorted by kaibokan DAITO, UKURU, TSUSHIMA and CD-27.

26 January 1945:
KIBITSU MARU departs Takao and joins convoy.

29 January 1945:
At 2315, arrives at Hsu Kung Tao with AKISHIMA MARU and UKURU, having been detached the previous day.

30 January 1945:
At 1535, the convoy reforms and departs Hsu Kung Tao.

1 February 1945:
Arrives at Seito (Tsingtao).

10 February 1945:
Arrives at Moji.

13 February 1945:
Arrives at Ujina. The proceeds to Mitsubishi Kobe and undergoes repairs from February to April.

April 1945:
While moored for upkeep at Wada pier, Kobe, KIBITSU MARU suddenly develops a major leak and has to be run aground to prevent her loss. She is refloated by Kaiyo salvage company; the subsequent repairs continue another three months.

7 August 1945:
Near Kobe. KIBITSU MARU strikes a mine and is damaged while sailing from Kobe to Yokohama. Her captain runs her aground at 34-37N, 135-04. [2]

Removed from the Army Ship List

The wreck is refloated by Kaiyo salvage company and broken up at Kawakami Sangyo shipyard.

Authors’ Note:
[1] The Japanese rescue some of the POWs from these two ships. All are transferred to KIBITSU MARU and taken to Japan. The American submarines later return to rescue a number of British and Australian POWs.

[2] In 1945, the U. S. Army Air Force launched “Operation Starvation” to mine Japan’s home waters. The USAAF used 80 to 100 B-29 “Super Fortress” heavy bombers of the 21st Bomber Command based at Tinian, Marianas. The B-29s could carry seven 2,000 lb. or twelve 1,000 lb. mines. From 27 Mar - 5 Aug ‘45, B-29s flew 1,529 nighttime radar sorties and laid 4,900 magnetic, 3,500 acoustic, 2,900 pressure and 700 low-frequency mines for a total of more than 12,000 mines laid in Japanese waters. These mines sank 294 ships, damaged 137 beyond repair and damaged another 239 that could be repaired. The total was 1, 250,000 tons sunk or damaged or about 75 percent of Japanese shipping available in March 1945. Only 15 B-29s were lost during the mining campaign.

Thanks go to John Whitman of the USA for the data on the troops carried by KIBITSU MARU and for Mr. Gilbert Casse of France for general assistance.

Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall