IJN Seaplane Tender KUNIKAWA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 1998-2018 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp, Allan Alsleben and Peter Cundall.

Revision 14

11 March 1937:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Dockyard Co.

12 June 1937:
Launched and named KUNIKAWA MARU.

1 November 1937:
Kobe. Completed as a single shaft 7,600 shp diesel powered cargo/refrigerator ship for the Kawasaki Kisen KK Line.

31 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJN.

10 November 1941:
Begins conversion at the Innoshima Yard of the Osaka Tekkosho K.K.

19 November 1941:
Completes conversion. Attached directly to the Combined Fleet as a "converted transport (misc)".

28 November 1941:
Departs Kure for Palau carrying Cdr (later Captain) Shiga Masanari's (48) Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF).

2 December 1941:
Receives the signal "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt.Niitaka) 1208" from the Combined Fleet.* This signifies that X-Day hostilities will commence on 8 December (Japan time).

6 December 1941:
Arrives at Palau.

6 January 1942:
Departs Davao, Philippines for Tarakan, Dutch Borneo carrying the Kure No. 2 SNLF in a convoy consisting of 13 troop transports. Air cover is provided by the 21st Seaplane Tender Div’s SANUKI MARU and SANYO MARU.

7 January 1942: The Invasion of the Netherlands East Indies:
Assigned to Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo’s (36) (former CO of KIRISHIMA) Third Fleet, Southern Force in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto’s (39) (former CO of AOBA) Tarakan Occupation Force.

9 January 1942:
Rear Admiral Hirose’s Central Force lands the IJA's 56th Regimental Combat Group and the Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) that seize Tarakan.

11 January 1942:
Japan declares war on the Netherlands.

27 January-3 February 1942:
Supports the Ambon landings.

February 1942:
Based at Ambon.

17 February 1942:
At 1000 departs Kendari, Celebes with transport KASUGA MARU both with troops destined for Kupang to support the invasion of Dutch (West) Timor. A total of nine transports are involved but they sail at different times in different echelons. The ship is met en route by light cruiser JINTSU and destroyer HATSUKAZE.

18 February 1942:
Destroyer AMATSUKAZE takes over direct escort. Soon after subchaser CH-3 meets up with KASUGA MARU.

20 February 1942:
Arrives at Kupang and disembarks troops.

1 March 1942:
Escorted by patrol boat PB-2 in the Ombai Strait.

3 March 1942:
Departs Kupang.

4 March 1942:
Departs Ambon.

5 March 1942:
Arrives at Kendari.

8 March 1942:
Departs Kendari.

13 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore, Malaya.

14 March 1942:
Departs Singapore for Penang, Malaya.

16 March 1942:
Arrives at Penang.

20 March 1942:
Departs Penang.

23 March 1942: Operation "D" - The Invasion of the Andaman Islands:
Indian Ocean. Lands one battalion of the IJA's 18th Infantry Division at Port Blair.

30 March 1942:
Departs Port Blair for Penang with KINUGASA MARU escorted by destroyer ASAGIRI.

1 April 1942:
Arrives at Penang.

6 April 1942:
Departs Penang.

11 April 1942:
Arrives at Bangkok, Siam.

17 April 1942:
Departs Bangkok.

22 April 1942:
Arrives at Sabang.

27 April 1942:
Departs Sabang.

29 April 1942:
Arrives at Penang.

18 May 1942:
Kure. Loads eight Type 0 Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters as cargo and departs.

20 May 1942:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

14 July 1942:
Kure Navy Yard. Begins conversion to a seaplane tender. Assigned directly to Vice Admiral (later Amiral) Inoue Shigeyoshi's (37) Fourth Fleet. Captain Aoki Setsuji (38) is the Commanding Officer.

7 August 1942: American Operation “Watchtower” – The Invasion of Guadalcanal, British Solomons:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Richmond K. Turner's (USNA ’08) Amphibious Task Force 62, covered by Vice Admiral (MOH ‘14/later Admiral) Frank J. Fletcher’s (USNA ’06)(former CO of USS VERMONT, BB-20) Task Force 61 and Rear Admiral (Admiral posthumously) John S. McCain's (USNA ’06)(former CO of USS RANGER, CV-4) Task Force 63’s land-based aircraft, lands Maj Gen (later Gen/MOH/Commandant) Alexander A. Vandergrift’s 1st Marine Division on Florida, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo and Guadalcanal opening the campaign to retake the island.

23 August 1942:
Conversion is completed. KUNIKAWA MARU is re-rated a converted seaplane tender. She carries six Type 0 Mitsubishi F1M2 “Pete” two-seat reconnaissance float biplanes. They wear the tail code “L2-xx”.

24 August 1942:
Departs Kure with NOSHIRO MARU to operate from the Shortlands area off Bougainville.

25 August 1942:
Transits the Bungo Straits heading south.

28 August 1942:
The "R" Area Air Force (Homen Koku Butai) is created within the Eighth Fleet under Rear Admiral Jojima Takatsugu (40) (former CO of SHOKAKU) from the complements of four seaplane tenders. The seaplane unit is to augment the IJN’s land-based aircraft in the Guadalcanal area. The unit uses Type 0 Aichi E13A1 "Jake" three-seat float monoplanes for long-range reconnaissance and anti-submarine missions, Type O Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" fighters and F1M2s for light bombing, convoy-escort duty and to complement the A6M2-Ns in the fighter role.

The R-Area Air Force is based in Shortland harbor, but Rekata Bay on Santa Isabel Island, 135 miles NW of Lunga Point on Guadalcanal, serves as the unit's forward staging base.

2 September 1942:
KUNIKAWA MARU surrenders her aircraft to the 21st Air Flotilla.

8 September 1942:
KUNIKAWA MARU departs Truk for Shortland anchorage escorted by destroyer MURASAME to carry a construction force as well as materials to build the airfield at Buin.

Between 8-24 September KUNIKAWA MARU searches Solomons and Santa Cruzs Islands for potential seaplane bases with destroyer escorts at different times consisting of MURASAME, SAMIDARE and HARUSAME.

10 September 1942:
At 0600 (JST), departs Shortland in company of MURASAME, operating with the Eastern Guard Unit. KUNIKAWA MARU carries six Mitsubishi F1M2 "Petes".

11 September 1942:
At 0845, Lt Carlton H. Clark’s PBY-5 CATALINA of VP-11 is sighted in the vicinity. At 0900, KUNIKAWA MARU launches two of her F1M2s to intercept the Catalina. The PBY receives heavy damage and crashes at 01-40S, 160E. The 8-man strong crew is taken aboard MURASAME, which scuttles all debris. Later that day, MURASAME is detached and heads to join the Vanguard Force.

12 September 1942:
HARUSAME joins KUNIKAWA MARU as her new escort. The R Area Air Force has nine E13A1, F1M2 and A6M2-N aircraft.

14 September 1942:
E13A1s based at Shortland and Rekata begin reconnoitering American sea communications between Noumea and Guadalcanal. They make shuttle flights to Indispensable Reef, where they are refueled by submarines.

17 September 1942:
Launches one of her seaplanes for a reconnaissance mission to Nauru. Supplies HARUSAME with 350t fuel and 23t boiler water. 4 aircraft alternately provide air and anti submarine cover.

20 September 1942:
A further PBY is sighted. Three seaplanes are launched to intercept, one is lost.

24 September 1942:
Returns to Shortland.

25-27 September and 5 October 1942
Air-raids on Shortland.

Early October 1942:
Headquarters, Combined Fleet decides to establish a secret refuelling point for the R Area Air Force's E13A1 floatplanes at Mohawk Bay, Ndeni Island. Initially, it is planned for KUNIKAWA MARU deliver the first three Jakes, but she cannot put to sea because of a machinery breakdown.

4 October 1942:
Southern tip of Santa Isabel Island, Solomons. A troop convoy bound for Guadalcanal in bad weather is being escorted by A6M2-Ns and F1M2s when the convoy is attacked by Navy and Marine Grumman F4F-4 “Wildcat” fighters and Douglas SBD “Dauntless” dive bombers from Henderson Field and USS HORNET (CV-8). Three F1M2s from KUNIKAWA MARU attack an SBD of VS-71 and force it to ditch, but the dive-bombers' crew is later picked up by a Grumman J2F-5 "Duck" floatplane.

8 October 1942:
The R Area Air Force's strength is now 12 F1M2 "Petes" from KUNIKAWA, SANUKI and SANYO MARUs and CHITOSE's Air Groups, five A6M2-N Rufes from KAMIKAWA MARU's Air Group and nine E13A1 Jakes from the CHITOSE and SANYO MARU's Air Groups. Other ships provide two more F1M2s, two E13A1s and nine E7K2 Alfs.

6 November 1942:
Joined by subchaser CH-36 and escorted to Fukajima.

7 November 1942:
Arrives at Kure to embark supplies.

10 November 1942:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Kondo Nobutake's (35) (former CO of KONGO) plans to land 14,500 men, heavy weapons and supplies of LtGen Sano Tadayoshi's 38th "Hiroshima" Infantry Division and the 8th Special Naval Landing Force on Guadalcanal. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanaka Raizo's (41) (former CO of KONGO) DesRon 2’s twelve destroyers will escort an 11-ship high-speed reinforcement convoy.

14 November 1942:
Navy and Marine aircraft attack Tanaka’s troop transports. They are opposed by A6M “Zekes”of the 204th Naval Air Group (NAG) from Buin and by eight F1M2s from Rekata Bay. Two of the Petes are from the battleship HIEI, sunk the previous night in naval action. Three F1M2s are from SANYO MARU, two from KUNIKAWA MARU (including the flight leader) and one from SANUKI MARU.

The Americans claim two Zekes and six Petes shot down for the loss of one Wildcat. The 204th NAG loses two A6Ms. Five of the R-Area Air Force's eight floatplanes, three of which are damaged, return to Rekata. One of the HIEI’s's F1M2s is lost. SANYO MARU loses two planes.

25 November 1942:
Departs Kure for Yokosuka.

27 November 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

1 December 1942:
Reassigned to the Second Fleet, 11th Seaplane Tender Division.

2 December 1942:
Departs Yokosuka to operate in the Shortland area and deliver 12 F1M2 Petes to support the evacuation of Guadalcanal.

15 December 1942:
Departs Shortland for Rabaul.

17 December 1942:
Departs Rabaul.

26 December 1942:
Returns to Yokosuka.

30 December 1942:
Loads 6 fighter seaplanes, 6 zero reconnaisassance seaplanes, 650 fuel cans and 700t sundries. Embarks 224 passengers.

31 December 1942:
Departs Yokosuka to operate in the Shortland area.

8 January 1943:
At 1900 met by destroyer SAMIDARE.

10 January 1943:
At 0400 arrives at Truk via North pass.

13 January 1943:
Departs Truk escorted by destroyer OITE until 120 Ri outside atoll, OITE is detached.

16 January 1943:
Arrives at Shortland. Starts unloading. One submarine fired torpedo misses starboard aft. An anti submarine action starts. All guns fire. Two depth charges are dropped.

17-18 and 20 January 1943:
Air-raids on Shortland.

27 January 1943:
At 1200 arrives at Truk accompanied by destroyer ASAGUMO that met the ship en route from Shortland.

29 January 1943:
Hands over remaining aircraft to KAMIKAWA MARU.

6 February 1943:
At 0630, departs Truk in a convoy also consisting of KAGU MARU escorted by destroyer YUNAGI.

7 February 1943:
At 14-05N 149-18E YUNAGI detaches from the convoy.

12 February 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka for repairs.

1 March 1943:
KUNIKAWA MARU and KAMIKAWA MARU are assigned to the 938th NAG. KUNIKAWA MARU serves as a tender and KAMIKAWA MARU as an aircraft transport for the Air Group.

13 March 1943:
At 0600, departs Truk via Kimishima Channel then Southern Channel.

March 1943:
Guadalcanal. KUNIKAWA MARU and KAMIKAWA MARU’s Air Unit's FIM2s make nocturnal harassment raids. Their engine noise and the explosions of their 60-kg bombs make sleep impossible for American troops around Henderson Field.

16 March 1943:
Departs Yokosuka to operate in the Shortland area.

21 March 1943:
At 1530 KUNIKAWA MARU arrives at Truk via the north channel.

22 March 1943:
At 1130 KUNIKAWA MARU departs Truk via the south channel.

23 March 1943:
Three floatplanes attack Lunga Point, Guadalcanal and Tulagi on nearby Florida Island.

25 March 1943:
Two floatplanes attack Tulagi Harbor.

27 March 1943:
A single floatplane attacks Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal. Meanwhile, photo-reconnaissance missions flown by the USAAF’s 17th Reconnaissance Squadron’s Lockheed F-5As (P-38) pinpoint the Faisi-Poporang area in the Shortland Islands as the principal IJN seaplane base in the Solomons.

28 March 1943:
A reconnaissance photo shows 27 floatplanes at their moorings in the Shortlands.

29 March 1943:
Poporang Island, Shortlands. A joint-service fighter sweep by led by Captain Tom Lanphier with five Lockheed P-38 “Lightnings” of the USAAF 70th Fighter Squadron, and one Marine Chance-Vought F-4U-1 “Corsair” of VMF-124, hits the Faisi-Poporang seaplane base. They set fire to eight Pete floatplanes, originally attached to KUNIKAWA and KAMIKAWA MARUs, and damage three others. [1]

On their way back to base the American pilots spot a “destroyer” cruising about six miles E of the Shortlands. Each plane makes four strafing passes on subchaser CH-28 and set her afire. The subchaser takes on a 15 degree list. [1]

31 March 1943:
Submarine chaser CH-29 starts escorting.

1 April 1943:
At the equator CH-29 detaches.

8 April 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka.

14 April 1943:
Departs Yokosuka to ferry aircraft via Truk to Rabaul.

15 April 1943:
The 11th Seaplane Tender Division is disbanded. KUNIKAWA MARU is attached to the Southeast Area Fleet and her aircraft are assigned to the 938th NAG.

25 April 1943:
At 0720 departs Truk in convoy with YODOGAWA MARU escorted by destroyers UMEKAZE and HAGIKAZE.

28 April 1943:
At 0500 arrives at Rabaul. Disembarks aircraft.

3 May 1943:
Departs Rabaul in convoy No. 2023 also consisting of transports KINAI, TATSUTAKE MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU escorted by destroyer KIYONAMI.

6 May 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

8 May 1943:
Departs Truk for Yokosuka in fleet convoy No 4508. The convoy consists of KUNIKAWA MARU, IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU and transports TATSUTAKE and KINAI MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HIYODORI.

9 May 1943:
At 0211, while departing Truk, KUNIKAWA MARU is torpedoed by LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Raymond H. Bass’ (USNA '31) USS PLUNGER (SS-179). Two dud torpedoes hit the port bow and port stern causing light damage. [2]

At 1600, another dud is felt to hit the ship. HIYODORI counterattacks unsuccessfully with depth charges.

10 May 1943:
About 243 nms E of Saipan. At dawn, Bass attacks again the convoy tracked since the day before. At 0400, USS PLUNGER torpedoes and damages KINAI MARU leaving her dead in the water. At 0705, TATSUTAKE MARU is ordered to take off about 400 passengers. At 0748 USS PLUNGER torpedoes TATSUTAKE MARU while she is taking off passengers from KINAI MARU. TATSUTAKE MARU dodges two torpedoes but the third one hits her No. 4 hold and causes a vast explosion. Many of the evacuees are KIA. At about 0900, TATSUTAKE MARU is hit by two torpedoes fired in a submerged attack by LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Raymond H. Bass' (USNA ’31) USS PLUNGER (SS-179). TATSUTAKE MARU sinks by the stern at 14-33N, 149-23E. Four crewmen are KIA. HIYODORI rescues the survivors. [3] At 1253, USS PLUNGER again torpedoes and damages KINAI MARU. In addition, torpedo boat HIYODORI is damaged in collision with TATSUTAKE and KINAI MARUs, during the rescue of survivors.

11 May 1943:
At about 0600, USS PLUNGER finds KINAI MARU still afloat. LtCdr Bass surfaces and finishes her off with gunfire. She sinks at 0827 in position 14-33N, 149-23E. Only one crewman is KIA. Later that day HIYODORI arrives at Saipan carrying survivors of KINAI and TATSUTAKE MARUs.

15 May 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

1 June 1943:
Departs Yokosuka to ferry aircraft to Rabaul in convoy No. 3601A consisting only of KUNIKAWA MARU escorted by the destroyer YUZUKI.

7 June 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

10 June 1943:
At 0900, departs Truk as only ship in convoy No. 1101 escorted by subchaser CH-10 (or CH-16).

13 June 1943:
At 1000, arrives at Rabaul.

30 June 1943:
Returns to Yokosuka.

10 July 1943:
Departs Yokosuka to ferry aircraft to Rabaul.

30 July 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul. Unloads aircraft. At 1130, departs for Truk in an unnumbered convoy with HAKUSAN MARU escorted by destroyers YUNAGI and MINATSUKI.

2 August 1943:
Arrives at Truk at 1330.

5 August 1943:
At 0830, departs Truk in convoy No. 4805 also consisting of HAKUSAN MARU escorted by torpedo boat OTORI.

12 August 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Yokosuka.

28 August 1943:
Captain Koda Yoshio (35) is assigned as the CO.

9 September 1943:
Departs Yokosuka; arrives at Kisarazu the same day.

11 September 1943:
Departs Kisarazu; arrives at Yokosuka the same day.

15 September 1943:
Departs Yokosuka in fleet convoy No. 3914 consisting of KUNIKAWA, HEIWA, KEISHO and KIMISHIMA MARUs, escorted by destroyer ASANAGI.

25 September 1943:
Destroyer IKAZUCHI joins convoy near Truk. Arrives at Truk that day.

28 September 1943:
At 1600, departs Truk for Rabaul with fleet convoy No. 1292 consisting of KUNIKAWA and converted aircraft transport GOSHU MARUs escorted by subchaser CH-28 and torpedo boat HIYODORI.

1 October 1943:
Re-rated as a converted transport (misc). Attached to the Kure Naval District.

4 October 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

12 October 1943:
Rabaul. KUNIKAWA MARU unloads freight for the No. 501 Naval Flying Corps base and twelve seaplanes.

16 October 1943:
Departs Rabaul in convoy No. O-602B with GOSHU MARU escorted by destroyer TACHIKAZE.

19 October 1943:
A submarine attack occurs and 4 depth charges are dropped.

21 October 1943:
SE of Ulithi. At about 0200, GOSHU MARU is hit by two torpedoes from LtCdr (later Captain) David L. Whelchel's (USNA ’30) USS STEELHEAD (SS-280) in holds No. 1 and No. 2 and catches fire. Strenuous efforts by her crew result in the fire being extinguished, but the ship can make only 2-4 knots. She heads for Ulithi escorted by TACHIKAZE. KUNIKAWA MARU continues alone at high speed.

23 October 1943:
Arrives at Kayangel Atoll, N of Palau and later proceeds into Palau.

1 November 1943:
Departs Palau in convoy FU-101 consisting only of KUNIKAWA MARU escorted by torpedo boat SAGI.

6 November 1943:
Arrives at Saeki, Japan.

7 November 1943:
Arrives at Niihama, Shikoku, Japan.

10 November 1943:
Departs Niihama and arrives at Kure. Begins equipment modifications.

13 December 1943:
Completes installation of equipment. At 1500 departs Kure.

15 December 1943:
At 0830 arrives at Nishi (West) Maizuru. Loads 6264t construction material.

16 December 1943:
Loads sake, fresh food, stored grain products and entrusted goods.

18 December 1943:
Embarks 1659 construction crew and other passengers. At 1230 departs Nishi Maizuru for Moji.

19 December 1943:
At 1500 arrives at Moji.

20 December 1943:
At 1845 departs Moji and proceeds a short distance to Mutsure anchorage.

21 December 1943:
At 0700 departs Moji in convoy HI-27 also consisting of cargo-passenger MIIKE and TSUKUSHI MARUs, cargo liner NOTO MARU, IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU and oilers KYUEI and OTORISAN MARUs escorted by destroyer ASAKAZE. NOTO MARU carries the 72nd Field AA Battalion, 14th Shipping Eng Regiment and she and the convoy also carry the 1st echelon of the 53rd Division consisting of Div Hq, 53rd Div, 128th Infantry Regiment and div troops (including comms, transportation, veterinary, supply, maintenance etc.), 234th Naval Construction Unit, 43rd Independent Field AAA Company, 46th Field Ops Machine Cannon Company, 47th Field Ops Machine Cannon Company and 12th Independent Searchlight Company.

24 December 1943:
At 1700 arrives at Takao, Formosa.

25 December 1943:
Loads fresh food.

26 December 1943:
At 1300 departs Takao for Singapore with a replacement escort, kaibokan MATSUWA. The convoy now only consists of KUNIKAWA, TSUKUSHI, KYUEI and OTORISAN MARUs; the others remain at Takao.

27 December 1943:
162 miles WSW of Takao. At about 1030, in the second of two submerged attacks, LtCdr (later Captain)Robert D. Risser's (USNA ’34) USS FLYING FISH (SS-229) torpedoes and sinks oiler KYUEI MARU at 21-25N, 118-05E. 54 crewmen are KIA. MATSUWA rescues survivors and the ships continue their voyage.

2 January 1944:
Arrives at Singapore. Berths at Seletar Military Wharf.

3 – 4 January 1944:
The passengers are disembarked.

13 January 1944:
At 0858 departs Singapore and later that day at 1700 arrives at Bintan where the ship loads 4,000 tons of bauxite.

14 January 1944:
At 1057 departs Bintan and shortly after at 1640 arrives at Singapore.

15 January 1944:
Embarks 179 passengers.

16 January 1944:
At 1645 departs Singapore sailing at 14 knots in the special supplementary high speed "Sunosaki Convoy"convoy consisting of SUNOSAKI, KUNIKAWA MARU, cargo passenger ship TSUKUSHI MARU and another unidentified ship with an unknown escort.

27 January 1944:
At 0920 arrives Miike and departs at 1430 that day.

28 January 1944:
Arrives at Mutsure.

29 January 1944:
At 0440 arrives at Kobe.

30 January 1944:
At 1300 departs Kobe.

1 February 1944:
Arrives at Yokohama.

3 – 4 February 1944:
Unloads 4000t bauxite, 411t hemp and 426t rubber.

5 February 1944:
Loads sake products.

19 February 1944:
Embarks a passenger.

20 February 1944:
At 1040 departs Yokohama for speed trials in Tokyo Bay before returning to Yokohama at 1515.

21 February 1944:
At 1650 departs Yokohama and arrives at Tateyama at 1950 that day.

22 February 1944:
At 0100 dDeparts Tateyama and at 1603 arrives at Owase Bay.

23 February 1944:
Departs Owase Bay.

24 February 1944:
At 1040 arrives at Kure.

26 February 1944:
Embarks a passenger.

27 February 1944:
At 1730 departs Kure.

28 February 1944:
Embarks a passenger. At 1417 arrives at Moji.

1 March 1944:
At 1600 departs Moji for Takao as part of convoy MOTA-07.

3 March 1944:
At 0118 arrives at Kagoshima.

4 March 1944:
At 1152 departs Kagoshima.

8 March 1944:
At 1215 arrives at Takao, Formosa.

15 March 1944:
At 1642 departs Takao for Manila in TAMA-11A also consisting of one unidentified merchant ship escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA.

16 March 1944:
NW of the Philippines. At about 2100, LtCdr (later Cdr) Lowell T. Stone's (USNA ’29) USS LAPON (SS-260) carries out an unsuccessful surface radar attack on KUNIKAWA MARU.

18 March 1944:
At 1200 arrives at Manila.

20 March 1944:
At 1130 departs Manila in convoy H-22 bound for Kau in the Halmaheras and consisting of KUNIKAWA, SHINKYO, ATLAS, ANSHU, TOYOOKA, BENGAL, KURAMASAN and MITO MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HAYABUSA and Minesweeper No. 30.

23 March 1944:
Zamboanga Sea. Minesweeper No. 30 is detached and replaced by the auxiliary submarine chaser KYO MARU No. 12.

24 March 1944:
At 1430, as planned, KUNIKAWA MARU is detached from the convoy and proceeds independently to Balikpapan Bay, Borneo arriving later that day.

25 March 1944:
At 1510 arrives at Kau.

30 March 1944:
At 0530 departs Kau.

1 April 1944:
At 0348 arrives at Ambon.

14 April 1944:
At 1130 departs Ambon.

19 April 1944:
At 1333 arrives at Balikpapan.

29 April 1944:
Near Balikpapan. While departing Balikpapan, damaged portside by a mine laid by RAAF Consolidated PBY Catalinas. Unable to use machine guns. Light flooding occurs in No. 4 hold. [4]

8 May 1944:
After completing temporary repairs, KUNIKAWA MARU hits another mine while being towed at the roadstead and becomes grounded thereafter.

26 September 1944:
Balikpapan. After being refloated, KUNIKAWA MARU is repaired.

29 September 1944:
Balikpapan. KUNIKAWA MARU is anchored in the harbor.

6 May 1945:
Balikpapan. Removed to No. 5 berth.

21 May 1945:
Balikpapan harbor. While moored at No. 5 berth, KUNIKAWA MARU is hit by one bomb in her No. 7 hold and damaged by several near misses during an air raid. Eight sailors are killed. At 1310, she sinks at 02-15S, 116-00E.

30 November 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors’ Notes:
[1] Captain Tom Lanphier was originally credited with shooting down Admiral Yamamoto's "Betty" bomber in Apr '43 over Bougainville, but later research concludes that Lt Rex Barber actually shot down Yamamoto's plane on that mission.

[2] The submarine probably was USS PLUNGER (SS-179) that reported an underwater periscopic attack at 0300 that day on a 7,400-ton cargo ship at 10-18N, 150-46E. As a result of inadequate allocation of developmental and operational testing and evaluation funding, the American submarine force's primary weapon, the Mark XIV torpedo was plagued with many defects including deep running, faulty magnetic influence effect and an unreliable contact exploder.

[3] Bass was a 1932 Olympic Gold Medalist in rope-climbing, an event discontinued after that year.

[4] Some sources attribute the mine to one laid 10 months before by USS TAUTOG (SS-199) on 7 March 1943.

Special thanks for assistance in developing this TROM go to Mssrs. Andrew Obluski of Poland and Jean-Francois Masson of Canada. Special thanks also to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France.

Thanks go to Toda Gengoro of Japan for information in Revision 4.

Thanks also go to Tracy White for additional details on the 29 Mar '43 attack on Poporang Island, Shortlands in Revision 5.

- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp, Allan Alsleben and Peter Cundall.

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