(GRANDE-TERRE later KOA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2018 Gilbert Casse, Berend van der Wal and Peter Cundall

26 October 1931:
Low Walker, Newcastle. Launched by builders, Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd and named ANATOLIAN. It appears likely she was either built as a speculative build to provide yard employment at the height of the Great Depression or her intended owner (Ellerman & Papanyanni) was unable to finance the build and ownership stayed with the builder. The latter appears more likely.

March 1932:
Completed for Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd with registered homeport Newcastle. Official Number: 161564 – Call Sign: LHNW. Her Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) and Net Registered Tonnage (NRT) respectively are 1,865-tons and 1,099-tons. Operated by Westcott & Laurence Line Limited, part of the Ellerman Group. [1]

December 1932:
The ship is laid up as a result of the trade depression.

January 1933:
Sold and converted to a refrigerated cargo ship to carry bananas. Her GRT and NRT respectively are changed to 1,854-tons and 1,091-tons. Her ownership is changed to Cie Générale d'Armements Maritimes with registered homeport Le Havre. Her GRT and NRT respectively are changed to 1,944 GRT and 1,188-tons – Call Sign: ORKG. Renamed GRANDE-TERRE. Operated by Cie Generale Transatlantique. The ship operates between the French Antilles and France. [1]

Her GRT and NRT respectively are changed to 1,920-tons and 1,142-tons – Call Sign FPCH. [1]

Her ownership is changed to Skibs A / S Pasat with registered homeport Oslo. Renamed PASAT. Operated by T.B. Torgersen – Call Sign LKHL.

March 1940:
Her GRT and NRT respectively are changed to 2,023-tons and 1,126-tons. Her ownership is changed to Kyokuyo Hogei K.K. with registered homeport Tokyo. Renamed KOA MARU. Call Sign JWXN. [1] [2]

E April ~July 1940:
Joins the second Antarctic whaling fleet. Engaged in whale meat transport.

3 September 1941:
Yokohama. Requisitioned by the IJN. Conversion for military duty starts that same day at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Yokohama Dockyard.

20 September 1941:
Registered as an auxiliary stores ship attached to the Yokosuka Naval District under instruction No. 1093. Attached to Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Inoue Shigeyoshi’s (37) Fourth Fleet as an auxiliary stores ship, (Ko) category. IJN Reserve Captain Akashi Kichitaro is appointed CO. [3]

15 October 1941:
Conversion is completed.

6 December 1941:
Attached to invasion forces auxiliary supply forces under Yokosuka Naval District instruction No. 14.

11 December 1941:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

E 12 ~ 17 December 1941:
Loads 800t food.

18 December 1941:
Departs Yokosuka.

3 January 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

28 January 1942:
Attached to invasion forces auxiliary supply forces under Yokosuka Naval District instruction No. 45.

12 February 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for the South Seas (Japanese mandated islands).

31 March 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

22 April 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

2 May 1942:
Arrives at Otori Island (Wake Island). Departs there later that day.

5 May 1942:
Arrives at Eniwetok, Marshalls. Departs there later that same day.

7 May 1942:
Arrives at Emidji, Kwajalein, Marshalls.

11 May 1942:
Provisions auxiliary gunboat IKUTA MARU with food.

E May 1942:
Departs Emidji.

4 June 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

17 June 1942:
Departs Yokosuka for the South Seas with auxiliary transport CHIHAYA MARU heading SW.

31 July 1942:
IJN Reserve Captain Takayama Kojiro is appointed temporary supervisor.

3 August 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

August 1942:
Loads 2,023-tons grain and other sundries bound for the South Seas.

30 August 1942:
At 1000, departs Yokosuka escorting Naval Fleet oiler SHIRIYA until 29N.

11 September 1942:
Arrives at Eniwetok.

12 September 1942:
Departs Eniwetok.

14 September 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein, Marshalls. Departs later for Wotje, Matshalls.

8 October 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

24 October 1942:
Departs Shortland, Bougainville, Solomons.

25 October 1942:
Returns to Shortland.

26 October 1942:
Arrives at Buin, Bougainville carrying a construction unit of 200 persons.

31 October 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

18 November 1942:
Arrives at Wotje. Supplies heavy oil to auxiliary patrol craft ASHITAKA MARU No. 5 and NICHIEI MARU (later renamed NICHIEI MARU I GO).

19 November 1942:
Departs Wotje.

1 December 1942:
Captain Akashi disembarks and is reassigned to Yokosuka Naval District. Rerated as an auxiliary stores ship, Otsu category. [3]

16 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

23 December 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

30 January 1943:
Arrives at Wotje.

31 January 1943:
Departs Wotje.

12 February 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

24 February 1943:
Scheduled to arrive at Yokosuka in convoy No. 2224 also consisting of MASAJIMA, TOKAI, HOKUYO and TOKIWASAN MARUs and an unidentified ship (shown as “KOMIYA MARU”) escorted by auxiliary gunboat DELHI MARU.

3 March 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

16 March 1943:
Arrives at Meriren, Eniwetok atoll.

18 March 1943:
Departs Meriren.

20 March 1943:
At 0600, arrives at Kwajalein.

25 March 1943:
Departs Roi, Kwajalein, Marshalls.

26 March 1943:
Arrives at Wotje.

27 March 1943:
Departs Wotje.

28 March 1943:
Arrives at Taroa, Maloelap, Marshalls.

29 March 1943:
Departs Taroa.

30 March 1943:
Arrives at Jaluit, Marshalls.

Early April 1943:
Departs Jaluit for Eniwetok.

4 April 1943:
Midday, about 120 nautical miles N Eniwetok. LtCdr John R. McKnight’s (USNA ’30) USS PORPOISE (SS-172) running submerged at periscope depth, sights a merchant ship. About 1335, McKnight attacks and fires three Mark XIV Type 3A torpedoes at the target. One hit is scored and KOA MARU sinks rapidly by the stern at 13-30N, 161-56E with the loss of 16 of her crew.

1 May 1943:
Removed from the Naval list under instruction No. 835.

Authors' Notes:
[1] 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 subtracting 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.

[2] Not to be confused with IJN requisitioned general transport (B-AK) (623 GRT, ’39).

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

Thanks go to Gengoro S. Toda of Japan.

- Berend van der Wal, Gilbert Casse and Peter Cundall.

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