(MURO MARU in prewar OSK service)

IJN Hospital Ship MURO MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2008-2015 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.
Revision 5

1 June 1926:
Kobe. Laid down by Mitsubishi Ship Building and Engineering, K. K. as a 1,600-gross ton passenger-cargo ship for Osaka Shosen (OSK Line) K. K., Osaka.

9 December 1926:
Launched and named MURO MARU.

28 February 1927:

February 1927:
Departs Osaka. Arrives at Katsuura.

3 August 1927:
Departs Kobe. Arrives at Katsuura.

14 September 1934:
The “Muroto” typhoon strikes the Osaka area. 3,066 persons are killed and missing in the disaster. MURO MARU is damaged off the Sakurajima Pier in Osaka Port.

Gross tonnage is re-measured as 1,606 tons.

1 August 1938:
Requisitioned by the IJN.

2 August 1938:
Registered as a specially installed transport ship in the Kure Naval District. Cdr (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Nakamura Masao (40) is posted Supervisor.

5 August 1938:
Completes conversion.

18 August 1938:
Departs Kure for central China area.

15 November 1938:
An unknown officer is posted Supervisor.

31 March 1940:
Arrives at Sasebo.

4 April 1940:
Departs Sasebo for the central China area.

28 July 1940:
Arrives at Sasebo.

29 July 1940:
Departs Sasebo for central China area.

30 November 1941:
Arrives at Canton.

5 December 1941:
Arrives at Canton.

10 December 1941:
Rerated a general transport. Attached to the China Area Fleet.

5 April 1942:
Arrives at Shanghai.

4 May 1942:
Ownership transfers to Kansai Kisen K. K., Osaka.

7 May 1942:
Departs Shanghai.

9 May 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

13 May 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

15 May 1942:
Arrives at Shanghai.

17 May 1942:
Departs Shanghai.

24 May 1942:
At 0930 MURO MARU accompanied by repair ship HAYASE and torpedo depot ship ASUKA arrive at Kiukiang.

27 May 1942:
At 0910 MURO MARU departs trailing ASUKA and HAYASE.

29 May 1942:
At 0900 arrives at Hukow and departs at 1130.

1 June 1942:
Arrives at Hsingtsu.

2 June 1942:
Departs Hsingtsu.

3 June 1942:
Arrives at Dachi Shan (unknown location near Kiukiang)

18 June 1942:
At 1820 departs Dachi Shan and at 1920 arrives at Kiukiang.

19 June 1942:
At 0930 departs Kiukiang and at 2030 arrives at Yangluo.

20 June 1942:
At 0630 departs Yangluo and at 0940 arrives at Hankow.

22 June 1942:
At 0630 departs Hankow.

23 June 1942:
At 0330 arrives at Hsin Ti. At 1130 departs Hsin Ti and at 1800 arrives back at Hankow.

25 June 1942:
At 0930 departs Hankow and at 1900 arrives at Kiukiang.

26 June 1942:
At 0800 departs Kiukiang and at 1245 arrives at Dachi Shan.

2 July 1942:
At 1600 departs Dachi Shan and later arrives at Kuochuan (unidentified location).

3 July 1942:
At 0800 departs Kuochuan and at 1700 arrives at Kiukiang.

4 July 1942:
At 0800 departs Kiukiang and at 2050 arrives at Yangluo.

5 July 1942:
At 0630 departs Yangluo and at 0900 arrives at Hankow.

8 July 1942:
At 2045 arrives at Pengtse.

9 July 1942:
At 0600 departs Pengtse and at 1830 arrives at Nanking.

10 July 1942:
At 0840 departs Nanking and at 2020 arrives at Woosung.

11 July 1942:
At 0630 departs Woosung and at 0830 arrives at Shanghai. Remains at Shanghai for the much of the rest of the month.

28 July 1942:
At 0815 arrives at Danan Shan. Later at 1140 arrives at Kangshan (unidentified location).

13 August 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

17 August 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

19 August 1942:
Arrives at Shanghai.

5 September 1942:
Departs Shanghai.

6 September 1942:
Arrives at Tinghai.

22 September 1942:
Departs Tinghai and later that day arrives Shanghai.

19 December 1942:
Departs Shanghai.

21 December 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

25 December 1942:
Rerated a specially installed hospital ship in the Kure Naval District. Reassigned directly to the Combined Fleet.

31 December 1942:
Arrives at the Sasebo Navy Yard to begin conversion.

1 January 1943:
Begins reconstruction and equipment installation as a hospital ship. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notifies the warring nations of MURO MARU’s status as a hospital ship.

18 January 1943:
Equipment installation and reconstruction are completed.

20 January 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

15 March 1943:
Jabor Atoll, Marshalls. Provisioned by auxiliary storeship KITAKAMI MARU.

2 June 1943:
At 1630, departs Truk via the North Channel.

1 July 1943:
Departs Palau. At about 0900, LtCdr Charles H. Andrews’ (USNA ’30) USS GURNARD (SS-254) attacks convoy FU-105 consisting of ARIMASAN, SHINYUBARI and HIGASHI MARUs and an unidentified ship escorted by torpedo boat HATO at 07-37N, 134-26 E. In several attacks, Andrews fires 11 torpedoes, but they all miss or premature.

Naval oiler TSURUMI and MURO MARU report seeing torpedo tracks. Later, Japan protests the attack on MURO MARU. [1]

8 October 1943:
Departs Truk, possibly with Navy Hospital ship TAKASAGO MARU though left Truk alone.

10 October 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

18 October 1943:
At 0640, arrives at Truk.

19 October 1943:
At 0400, departs Truk.

21 October 1943:
Arrives at Saipan.

28 October 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

16 November 1943:
Enters drydock for repairs.

30 November 1943:
Repairs are completed.

5 December 1943:
Departs Kure.

11 March 1944:
Palau. Provisioned by auxiliary storeship KITAKAMI MARU.

1 May 1944:
Arrives at Beppu.

3 May 1944:
Departs Beppu and later that day arrives at Kure.

8 June 1944:
Off Toi Misaki. At 1305, Cdr John K. Fyfe’s (later Rear Admiral) USS BATFISH (SS-310) sights a ship bearing 290° T, at about 8,000 yards on a southerly course. By 1315, the range is down to 4,500 yards. The ship is identified as MURO MARU, a properly marked hospital ship. MURO MARU is just inside the 100 fathom curve on course 190° T, speed 10 knots. In addition to markings on her hull, stack, and bridge, she has a big red cross painted on what appears to be a tarpaulin hung between the bridge and the main mast. Fyfe breaks off his approach.

10 June 1944:
Departs Kure.

27 October 1944:
Coron Bay. MURO MARU comes along port side of oiler NICHIEI MARU and takes onboard 25 sick persons (probably from various warships). NICHIEI MARU had refueled over the previous two days.

13 November 1944:
17 miles outside of Manila Bay. Aircraft from Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Frederick C. Sherman’s (USNA ’10) carrier task groups TG 38.1, TG 38.3 and TG 38.4 attack shipping at Manila. Outside the entrance to Manila Bay MURO MARU is inadvertently sunk by four near misses which split open the hull. 32 crewmen are killed. [2]

10 January 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Note:
[1] It is unclear whether TSURUMI was the unidentified ship in convoy FU-105. Almost certainly MURO MARU was not in the convoy as hospital ships travelled alone and unescorted.

[2] Later, American divers examine the wreck to ascertain the cause of sinking and note whether hospital ship markings were prominently displayed. The divers found that the hospital ship marking signs were correctly displayed, but concluded the ship had been sunk by strafing- concentrated machine gun fire- whereas the Japanese account of the hull being split open by four near misses appears far more credible.

Photo credit and thanks for general assistance goes to Gilbert Casse of France.

- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

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