(Sister MATSUKAWA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014-2017 Bob Hackett

13 December 1939:
Kobe. Laid down at Kawasaki Zosensho, K. K. as Yard No. 659, a 3,829-ton cargo ship for Kawasaki Kisen (“K” Line), K. K.

17 August 1940:
Launched and named MOMOKAWA MARU. [1]

31 March 1941:
Completed. Placed in “K” Line’s service. MOMOKAWA MARU carries lumber from Siberia to Japan.

E November 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and assigned Army No. 891.

28 May 1942:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Tokyo Bay northbound in an unnumbered convoy consisting of cargo/transports ECHIZEN, JINMU, KOWA, KANSEISHI, NITTEI, and TAKAO MARUs and DAIBOSHI MARU No. 6 and tanker KOSHIN MARU escorted by survey ship KOMAHASHI. Later that day, KOMAHASHI is detached to return to Yokosuka.

31 May 1942:
Arrives at Ominato.

18 June 1943:
Returned by the IJA back to her owners. That same day, MOMOKAWA MARU is requisitioned by the Imperial Navy (IJN) as an Ippan Choyosen (B-AK) with a civilian crew.

24 June 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Yokosuka for Tarawa toll in an unknown convoy carrying cement for Tarawa’s defensive emplacements.

2 July 1943:
At 0905, MOMOKAWA MARU departs Yokosuka in a convoy possibly also consisting of other ships with an unknown escort.

12 July 1943:
At 1210, arrives at Truk, Carolines.

10 August 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Truk for Yokosuka in convoy No. 4810 also consisting of GOSHU and KEISHO MARUs escorted by kaibokan FUKUE.

18 August 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

22 August 1943:
At 1510, MOMOKAWA MARU departs Yokohama for Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan) in a convoy also consisting of ATAKA (ex-Italian ADA) MITSU and SAWA MARUs escorted by auxiliary netlayer KASHI MARU.

23 August 1943:
Off Hamamatsu, Japan. At about 1212, Cdr Robert H. Rice’s (USNA ‘27) USS PADDLE (SS-263) torpedoes and sinks ATAKA MARU at 34-36N, 138-50E. One crewman is KIA.

23 September 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Truk for Kwajalein in convoy No. 5231 escorted by subchaser CH-29.

28 September 1943:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

1 November 1943:
Fleet oiler SHIRETOKO, torpedoed and damaged on 12/13 Sep ’43 by (later Cdr) Carter L. Bennett's (USNA ’33) USS PERMIT (SS-178) departs Roi, Marshalls under tow by MOMOKAWA MARU in a convoy also consisting of cargo ships TAKUNAN and CAROLINE MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HIYODORI, subchaser CH-31 and auxiliary subchaser CHa-6.

10 November 1943:
Arrives at Saipan.

11 November 1943:
Departs Saipan.

13 November 1943:
W of Marianas Islands. While still under tow by MOMOKAWA MARU, SHIRETOKO is attacked by LtCdr Maximilian G. Schmidt's (USNA ’32) USS SCORPION (SS-278). At 0710, Schmidt fires four torpedoes at SHIRETOKO making 6 knots and gets one hit. SHIRETOKO goes dead in the water and down by the stern, but does not sink.

At 0810, USN codebreakers intercept a message from the CO of SHIRETOKO that reads: “At 0712 in position 18-22 N, 142-50 E attacked by enemy sub. One hit in fireroom and port fuel tanks. Can be towed.”

23 November 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU arrives at Sasebo Naval Base towing SHIRETOKO.

3 December 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU is scheduled to depart Yokosuka carrying 7,000 drums of fuel for Tokuyama Depot.

4 December 1943:
Arrives at Nagaski.

5 December 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Nagaski carrying 2,000-tons of military stores and a fuel load of bunker coal.

6 December 1943:
Arrives at Tokuyama, Tokyo Bay.

11 December 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

19 December 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Yokosuka for Kwajalein via Saipan and Truk in a convoy possibly also consisting of other ships escorted by minelayer NASAMI. MOMOKAWA MARU is carrying 50 depth charges for Saipan, 87 secret packages for Truk, two launches, 10 automobiles and 84 secret packages for Kwajalein.

25 December 1943:
Arrives at Saipan.

27 December 1943:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Saipan in a convoy possibly also consisting of other ships escorted by minelayer NASAMI.

31 December 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

January 1944:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Truk for Ruotto, Kwajalein carrying gasoline and an unknown number of Daihatsu wooden landing barges

28 January 1944:
MOMOKAWA MARU departs Roi-Namur, Marshall Islands for Truk in convoy No. 6283 also consisting of KATORI and KENSHO MARUs. MOMOKAWA MARU is towing unnavigable KENSHO MARU (bombed and damaged B-24 “Liberator” bombers on 20 Dec ’43).

4 February 1944:
Arrives at Truk.

17 February 1944: American Operation "Hailstone" - The Attack on Truk:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA ’10) Task Force 58's five fleet carriers and four light carriers, supported by six battleships, ten cruisers and 28 destroyers, launch air attacks on airfields, shore installations and ships in the lagoon. Mitscher launches 30 strikes of at least 150 aircraft each. The strikes are launched about every hour for two days. MOMOKAWA MARU is attacked by SB2C “Helldiver” dive bombers from USS BUNKER HILL (CV-17) and hit amidships by a 1,000 lb. bomb. She sinks at 07-20N, 151-53E. One crewman is KIA.

17-18 February 1944:
Task Force 58 sinks 31 transports and 10 naval vessels (two cruisers, four destroyers and four auxiliary vessels), destroys nearly 200 aircraft and damages severely about 100 more. Truk is eliminated as a major fleet anchorage for the IJN.

30 April 1944: Removed from the Navy List.

Author's Note:
[1] Also known as MOMOGAWA MARU

Thanks go to Erich Muethlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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