(Type C Escort by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

IJN Escort Kusagaki:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2006-2012 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall

Revision 1

7 September 1943:
Tsurumi. Laid down at Nihon Kokan K. K.’s shipyard as kaibokan No. 334.

1 October 1943:
Kaibokan No. 334 is named KUSAGAKI and temporarily attached to Maizuru Naval Disctrict.

12 January 1944:

31 May 1944:
Completed and reassigned to the Kure Naval Disctrict. LtCdr Ozaki Takashi (60) is the Commanding Officer.

1 July 1944:
KUSAGAKI is assigned to the General Escort Command’s First Surface Escort Division and attached to the Kure Guard Unit.

6 July 1944:
At 1245 departs Miike in convoy MOMA-02 consisting of SEATTLE, SHOZAN, JINZAN, TOKUSHIMA, HIYAMA, KOKKA, YASUKUNI, RYOFU, TENSHIN, MANTAI, MITSUKI MARUs and four unidentified merchant ships also escorted by destroyer HATSUSHIMO, kaibokan CD-1, CD-22 and minesweeper W-34.

12 July 1944:
At 2110 arrives at Takao (MANTAI and MITSUKI MARUs arrive early following day).

14 July 1944:
At 1900, KUSAGAKI departs Takao with kaibokan CD-1, CD-22 and minelayers MAESHIMA, ENTO and minesweeper W-34 escorting convoy TAMA-21C consisting of MANTAI, MITSUKI, JINSAN, SEATTLE, YASUKUNI, TENSHIN, YAMATAMA, SAINEI, HIYAMA, KOKKA [1], SHOZAN, TOKUSHIMA and SHOKEI MARUs and tankers SHONAN, MITSU, AYAGIRI, and AYAZONO MARUs and three unidentified merchant ships.

16 July 1944:
At 0946, LtCdr Harold E. Ruble's (USNA ’33) USS PIRANHA (SS-389) torpedoes and sinks SEATTLE MARU at 19-17N, 120-15E. The transport is carrying 4.285 IJNAF personnel. 45 crewmen, 25 gunners and 296 passengers and troops are KIA. HIYAMA and SHOZAN MARUs rescue the survivors. Over the next six hours, Captain (later Rear Admiral-Ret) William V. O'Regan’s (USNA ’23) wolf pack, nicknamed the "Mickey Finns", consisting of LtCdr Duncan C. MacMillian's (USNA ’26) USS THRESHER (SS-200), LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Novell G. Ward's (USNA ’35) USS GUARDFISH (SS-217) and Ruble's USS PIRANHA closes in and decimates the convoy.

At 2300, MacMillian's THRESHER torpedoes and sinks SAINEI MARU at 18-53N, 119-32E. 21 troops and passengers on board, and three crewmen are KIA. At 2350, Ward's USS GUARDFISH torpedoes and sinks JINZAN MARU. 38 troops, one passenger, seven gunners, two watchmen and three crewmen are killed – a total of 51 dead. Two minutes later, Ward torpedoes and sinks MANTAI MARU. 72 military passengers and 43 crewmen are KIA.

17 July 1944:
The attacks continue. At 0034,Ward's USS GUARDFISH torpedoes and sinks HIYAMA MARU. The ship was loaded with 2 companies of an Army group totaling 101 troops, of whom four along with four of the crew were KIA. W-34 and CD-1 rescue survivors. At 0345, MacMillian's USS THRESHER torpedoes and sinks SHOZAN MARU at 18-50N, 119-43E. 24 Gunners, 125 troops, 500 AZUSA MARU survivors and 64 crewmen are killed.

19 July 1944:
At 1920, convoy TAMA-21C arrives at Manila.

24 July 1944:
At 0600, KUSAGAKI, departs Manila for Moji with escort carrier KAIYO, kaibokan HIRADO (F), KURAHASHI, MIKURA, CD-11, CD-20 and torpedo boat HIYODORI escorting convoy HI-68 consisting of escort carrier TAIYO, oilers ITSUKUSHIMA, TOA, TOHO, SHIMPO, OTORISAN MARUs and NICHINAN MARU No. 2, IJA landing craft depot ships MAYASAN and KOZU (a.k.a. TAKATSU) MARUs and transports TOSAN, KASHII, NISSHO, AKI and KIYOKAWA MARUs.

A three-submarine wolf pack of Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Rueben T. Whitaker’s (USNA ’34) USS FLASHER (SS-249), LtCdr Franklin Hess’s (USNA ’35) USS ANGLER (SS-240) and LtCdr Francis D. Walker’s (USNA ’35) USS CREVALLE (SS-291) tracks the convoy.

26 July 1944:
Off Luzon. At 0211, in a night surface radar attack, FLASHER closes first. Cdr Whitaker fires three torpedoes at AKI MARU and his last three torpedoes at OTORISAN MARU. One torpedo hits AKI MARU amidships, another strays and hits TOSAN MARU. OTORISAN MARU blows up and illuminates the night. TOSAN MARU, AKI MARU and OTORISAN MARU all sink. 46 men aboard OTORISAN MARU are KIA. On AKI MARU some 24 passengers were killed as were 14 ship’s gunners, and 3 crew; a total of 41 dead.

At 0458 (JST), in a visual attack on the surface, Hess’s USS ANGLER fires six torpedoes. A torpedo hits KIYOKAWA MARU's No. 1 hold and blows her bow off at 18-15 N, 118, 00E. At 0655, the ship leaves the convoy and heads for Takao, Formosa.

27 July 1944:
At 1100, convoy HI-68 arrives at Takao. KUSAGAKI and CD-1 are detached.

31 July 1944:
Convoy MI-13 arrives at Takao from Moji consisting of tankers SHINCHO, TEIKON (ex German WINNETOU), TOKUWA, KYOEI and ATAGO MARUs and cargo ships HIYORI, DURBAN, KIZAN, KUNIYAMA, URAL, SHIROTAE, KOKUSEI, CHINA, HIGANE, MATSUURA, RISSHUN and ATLAS MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and OGURA MARU No. 2 escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA, CD-14, minesweeper W-18, auxiliary minesweeper TAKUNAN MARU No. 3, auxiliary gunboat CHOHAKUSAN MARU, patrol boat P-38 and auxiliary patrol boats EIFU, FUYO, KASUGA and NUNOBIKI MARUs.

SHIROTAE, CHINA and MATSUURA MARUs are detached. Tankers SHIMPO and ZUIYO MARUs, cargo ship SHINKO MARU and Naval Transport T. 3 join the convoy. TAKUNAN MARU No. 3 and CHOHAKUSAN MARU are detached from the escort and replaced by KUSAGAKI and destroyer ASAKAZE.

4 August 1944:
At 0830, reconstituted convoy MI-13 departs Takao.

7 August 1944:
Off Capones Island, Luzon. At 2205, LtCdr (later Captain) Enrique D. Haskin's (USNA ’33) USS GUITARRO (SS-363) torpedoes and sinks KUSAGAKI at 14-50N, 119-57E. USS GUITARRO survives depth-charging by ASAKAZE and CD-14. Ninety-seven of KUSAGAKI's crew are KIA, 30 others drift throughout the night. In the morning, the survivors, including CO LtCdr Ozaki, are rescued by ASAKAZE and taken to Manila.

10 October 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Note:
[1] Unclear, possibly tanker KOKKO MARU.

Thanks for assistance go to Dr. Higuchi Tatsuhiro of Japan and to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France. Thanks also go to Mr. Aki of Japan and Matthew Jones of Ohio for help in identifying kaibokan COs.

-Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall

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