(LYONS MARU as a prewar NYK freighter )

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2007-2018 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

Revision 8

15 August 1919:
Laid down at Yokohama Dock Co.’s shipyard for Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) K.K. (Tokyo).

3 March 1920:
Launched and named LYONS MARU.

6 May 1920:

June 1920-31 August 1923:
In service with the NYK Line. Serves on the westerly route to New York.

1 September 1923: The Great Kanto Earthquake:
Yokohama. At 1155, the earth trembles and sections of the dock collapse. LYONS MARU is flung violently from side to side. The land and remaining dock structure roll in wave-like motions as high as eight feet. A heavy rumbling sound comes from the city as hundreds of buildings collapse.

LYONS MARU loses her mooring cable and drifts across the harbor. She collides with liner EMPRESS of AUSTRALIA’s stern, then hits her amidships and shatters a lighter loaded with lumber. The lighter acts as a buffer between the two large ships and prevents serious damage. The earthquake is one of the worst in recorded history. At least 143,000 people are killed.

3 September 1923:
Departs Yokohama for Kobe. Later returns to Yokohama, probably with relief supplies.

15 September 1923:
Departs Yokohama for Kobe.

Reengages on the European run terminating at Liverpool.

Reengined with a more powerful 3400 BHP engine.

5 August 1937:
Requisitioned by the IJA as a transport. Assigned number 264.

13 January 1941:
Released by the IJA, but requisitioned by the IJN that same day.

15 January 1941:
Tokyo. Begins conversion to an armed auxiliary aircraft transport at Uraga Dock Co., Ltd. 120-mm (4.7-inch) guns are installed at the bow and the stern. Registered in the IJN.

3 April 1941:
The conversion is completed.

11 April 1941:
Departs Yokosuka for the South Seas area (now Micronesia), probably stopping at Truk.

28 April 1941:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

14 May 1941:
Departs Furue for south seas area.

4 July 1941:
Arrives at Furue.

19 July 1941:
Departs Yokosuka for the South Seas.

11 August 1941:
Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Nakao Hachiro (40) (former CO of NATORI) assumes command.

31 August 1941:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

October 1941:
Takao, Formosa. LYONS MARU is in Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Tsukahara Nishizo’s (36)(former CO of AKAGI) 11th Air Fleet.

18 October 1941:
Departs Takao for the southern China area.

28 October 1941:
Returns to Takao.

8 December 1941: Operation "M" - The Attack on the Philippines:
At Takao.

20 December 1941:
Departs Takao for Davao, Mindanao, Philippines with OKITSU MARU.

E December 1941:
Arrives at Davao.

4 January 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

10 January 1942:
Departs Takao.

12 January 1942: Operation "H" - The Invasion of Menado, Celebes, Netherlands East Indies:
Captain (later Vice Admiral) Mori Kunizo's (former CO of SATA) Sasebo No. 1 Combined Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) and Cdr (later Captain) Horiuchi Toyoaki's (later XO of TAKAO) Yokosuka No. 1 SNLF (Air) paratroops capture Menado and seize its Langoan commercial airfield.

18 January 1942:
LYONS MARU arrives at Davao.

Late-January 1942:
LYONS MARU arrives at Menado and probably delivers Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighter aircraft, supplies, personnel and munitions to elements of the 3rd Naval Air Group at Langoan airfield.

27 January 1942:
At 1600 departs Davao in the second echelon of the Ito Shitai Ambon invasion force. The echelon consists of KIRISHIMA, YAMAGIRI, YAMAFUKU, KATSURAGI and LYONS MARUs and HINO MARU No. 5 escorted by destroyers AMATSUKAZE, TOKITSUKAZE, YUKIKAZE and HATSUKAZE and minesweepers W-9 and W-11.

29 January 1942:
At 0000 arrives at Bangka, Celebes. Preparation is made for the invasion of Ambon.

31 January 1942: The Invasion of Ambon Island, Moluccas, Netherlands East Indies:
Departs Bangka anchorage, near Menado, with the Ambon invasion convoy consisting of transports AFRICA, YAMAURA, ZENYO, RYOYO, MIIKE, YAMAGIRI, KIRISHIMA, HINO, KATSURAGI and YAMAFUKU MARUs carrying Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hatakeyama Koichiro's (former CO of KINUGASA) Kure No. 1 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF), elements of the Sasebo SNLF and the 228th Infantry Regiment escorted by Rear Admiral Tanaka's DesRon 2’s light cruiser JINTSU, DesDiv 8’s ASASHIO, MICHISHIO, ARASHIO and OSHIO, DesDiv 15’s HAYASHIO, KUROSHIO, OYASHIO and NATSUSHIO, DesDiv 16’s TOKITSUKAZE, HATSUKAZE, AMATSUKAZE and YUKIKAZE, MineSweepDiv 21’s W-7, W-8, W-9, W-11 and W-12 and SubChasDiv 1’s CH-1, CH-2 and CH-3. Seaplane tenders CHITOSE and MIZUHO arrive at Ceram and provide air cover for the invasion convoy. [1]

3 February 1942:
Ambon is secured.

25 February 1942:
At 0700 PB-1 and PB-2 arrive at Kupang escorting YAMAURA and KASUGA MARUs. LYONS MARU transfers supplies to PB-1.

1 March 1942:
PB-1 departs Kupang escorting LYONS, TENRYU and NANIWA MARUs. At some point the ships are joined by PB-2 and LYONS MARU is detached and KATSURAGI MARU joins.

3 March 1942:
Arrives at Ambon and probably delivers A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions.

8 March 1942:
Bandung, Java. Governor General Dr. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer surrenders the Netherlands East Indies.

9 March 1942:
Departs Ambon.

17 March 1942:
Arrives at Truk. Probably loads crated A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions.

20 March 1942:
Departs Truk.

26 March 1942:
Arrives at Taroa. Probably delivers A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions.

29 March 1942:
Departs Taroa.

30 March 1942:
Arrives at Jaluit, Marshall Islands. Probably delivers A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions to elements of the Chitose Fighter Group.

7 April 1942:
Captain Takagi Banjiro (39) (former CO of KUROSHIO MARU) is appointed the CO. (Remained in command until 7 August 1942.)

8 April 1942:
Departs Jaluit.

20 April 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

Mid-May 1942:
Tokyo. Undergoes repairs at Uraga Dock Co.

18 May 1942:
LYONS MARU is assigned to the 11th Air Fleet with KEIYO and NAGOYA MARUs.

29 June 1942:
Off Yokosuka meets up with destroyer HAKAZE.

30 June 1942:
Arrives at Buin.

28 July 1942:
At 1200 departs Yokosuka escorted initially by destroyers HATSUKAZE and SUZUKAZE.

29 July 1942:
At 2035 in 32N 139E the destroyers are detached.

2 August 1942:
Arrives at Saipan.

3 August 1942:
Departs Saipan and meets up with KAIHEI MARU that departs nearby Tinian.

8 August 1942:
Both ships arrive at Rabaul.

14 August 1942:
Departs Rabaul (possibly with fleet oiler IRO, the latter as far as Truk).

23 August 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

10 September 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

16 September 1942:
Arrives at Saipan, Marianas. Probably delivers A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions.

18 September 1942:
Departs Saipan.

22 September 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul. Probably delivers A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions.

28 September 1942:
Departs Rabaul in convoy with SHINYUBARI and SHINAI MARUs.

30 September 1942:
Arrives at Buin, Bougainville. Probably delivers A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions.

9 October 1942:
Departs Buin.

11 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

14 October 1942:
Departs Rabaul.

25 October 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka. Later, crosses Tokyo Bay to Kisarazu Naval Base. Probably loads A6M fighters, supplies, personnel and munitions.

16 November 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

21 November 1942:
Departs Palau in a convoy also consisting of TAIFUKU MARU, TOYO MARU No. 2 and one unidentified merchant ship escorted by auxiliary gunboat CHOUN MARU.

30 November 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

12 December 1942:
Departs Rabaul and later that day arrives at Kavieng.

18 December 1942:
Arrives at Saipan.

24 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

12 January 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

13 January 1943:
Arrives at Yokkaichi. Probably loads aviation gasoline at the refinery.

16 January 1943:
Departs Yokkaichi.

27 January 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

3 February 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

4 February 1943:
Arrives at Kavieng.

12 February 1943:
Departs Kavieng.

19 February 1943:
Arrives at Menado.

21 February 1943:
Departs Menado.

23 February 1943:
Arrives at Balikpapan.

8 March 1943:
Departs Balikpapan.

18 March 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

30 March 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

7 April 1943:
Arrives at Saipan.

18 April 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

21 June 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

25 June 1943:
At 0900 departs Moji in convoy No. 170 also consisting of SYDNEY, KAMO, YAMATO, TEIRYU (ex German AUGSBURG), TONEGAWA, TSURUSHIMA, TOUN MARUs and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by torpedo boat SAGI.

1 July 1943:
At 1930 arrives at Takao.

9 July 1943:
At 0900 departs Takao in convoy No. 759 also consisting of TOUN and TEIRYU MARUs without escort.

12 July 1943:
Arrives at Manila.

20 July 1943:
At 1510 patrol boat PB-103 departs Manila escorting LYONS and KASAGISAN MARUs.

22 July 1943:
At 0835 arrives at Cebu.

19 September 1943:
LYONS MARU departs Rabaul for Kavieng, New Ireland escorted by stores ship ARASAKI MARU transporting foodstuffs.

6 October 1943:
Recalled Captain (Ret) (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Ishiguro Torao (37) assumes command.

16 October 1943:
Departs Surabaya, Java for Balikpapan, Borneo then Rabaul.

2 November 1943:
Rabaul. 75 North American B-25 "Mitchell" medium-bombers of the 5th Air Force's 3rd, 38th and 345th Bomb Groups, escorted by 70 Lockheed P-38 "Lightning" fighters raid airfields and Simpson Harbour. LYONS MARU is damaged in the raid as are CruDiv 5’s HAGURO and MYOKO, destroyer SHIRATSUYU, subtender CHOGEI, repair ship YAMABIKO MARU, stores ship HAYASAKI and minesweeper W-26. HOKUYO, HAKUSAN, TOKYO, GOSEI, ONOE and HARUNA MARUs are also damaged. Stores ship MANKO MARU is sunk. Of 40 ships in the harbor, only 10 escape damage.

5 November 1943: Carrier Raid on Rabaul:
Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Frederick C. Sherman’s Task Force 38 launches 125 bombers (USN Douglas SBD “Dauntless” and Curtiss SB2C "Helldiver" dive-bombers, Grumman TBF “Avenger” torpedo-bombers) and 127 Grumman F6F "Hellcat" fighters to attack Rabaul. Dive bombers from USS SARATOGA (CV-3) and PRINCETON (CVL-23) damage CruDiv 4’s ATAGO, TAKAO and MAYA and CruDiv 7’s CHIKUMA and MOGAMI, light cruisers AGANO and NOSHIRO and destroyers AMAGIRI and FUJINAMI.

13 November 1943:
At 1200, LYONS MARU departs Rabaul for Palau in convoy O-305 consisting of HOKKAI, SHICHISEI, TAISHO and MACASSAR MARUs and escorted by subchasers CH-39 and CH-24. The convoy is shadowed that evening by a USAAF Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bomber.

14 November 1943:
At 0003, the B-24 launches a slow, low-level attack and hits TAISHO MARU amidships in hold No. 3. LYONS MARU is not hit. TAISHO MARU is damaged, but able to return to Rabaul, arriving the following day.

20 November 1943:
Arrives at Palau. Probably delivers A6M fighters and munitions to elements of the 263rd Naval Air Group at Peleliu.

4 December 1943:
Palau. An unknown officer assumes command.

12 December 1943:
At 1700 departs Balikpapan in convoy 2613 consisting solely of LYONS MARU escorted by destroyer WAKATAKE.

17 December 1943:
At 1340 arrives outside Palau.

18 December 1943:
At 0735 enters Palau.

1 January 1944:
Rerated an auxiliary passenger cargo ship.

5 January 1944:
At 1155 LYONS MARU, carrying 12,000 drums of fuel oil, departs Palau for Rabaul in convoy SO-504 consisting of NICHIAI, YAMAYURI and CHIBURI MARUs escorted by subchasers CH-37 and CH-38.

10 January 1944:
Off New Hanover, Bismarcks. At about 1500, a submarine is sighted on the surface and engaged with gunfire.

11 January 1944:
At 2109, a B-24, probably of the USAAF's 13th Air Force based in the Solomons, attacks the convoy unsucessfully.

12 January 1944:
At 0032, other aircraft attack the convoy and one plane is shot down. Later that day at 1815, the convoy arrives at Rabaul.

17 January 1944:
Rabaul. USN SBDs and TBFs escorted by Vought F4U "Corsairs" all from Cape Torokina, Bougainville bomb shipping in Simpson harbor. They sink HAKKAI, KENSHIN and KOSEI MARUs and damage LYONS MARU.

24 January 1944:
Rabaul. USMC TBFs, supported by USN, USMC, USAAF and RNZAF Curtiss P-40E "Kittyhawk" fighters, again attack shipping and sink LYONS MARU, unnavigable since bombed on 17 January. She sinks on even keel with her funnel, bridge, ventilators and masts above water. YAMAYURI, KOAN and TAISHO MARUs are also sunk and fleet oiler NARUTO damaged.

Removed from the Navy List.

2 January 1946:
Australian salvage ship CALEDONIAN SALVOR moors over LYONS MARU's wreck and recovers anchors and cables which are cleaned and provided to the W. R. Carpenter cargo ship SALAMAUA. Later, the wreck is demolished with all upperworks and the upper half of the hull removed to clear the shipping channel.

Authors' Note:
[1] Bangka anchorage, near Menado, should not be confused with Bangka Island, off southern Sumatra.

Photo credit goes to Gilbert Casse of France. General thanks also to Gilbert, and to Matthew Jones of USA for identifying CO's.

- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

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