(Salvage Tug by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

IJN IJN Salvage and Repair Tug NAGAURA:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2008-2018 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 3

E 1939:
Aioi. Laid down at Harima Shipbuilding, K. K. as an 800-ton TATEGAMI-class fleet salvage and repair tug.

Launched and named NAGAURA.

31 October 1940:
Completed and registered in the IJN.

NAGAURA’s Type 93 13.2mm machine guns are replaced by Type 96 25mm AA guns.

17 March 1942:
Assigned to work with repair ship SHOEI (MATSUE) MARU (5644 gt) to repair damaged ships and undertake rescue and salvage work.

13 October 1942:
Arrives at Kavieng to inspect damaged transport TENRYU MARU. Over the next few weeks, No. 1 and No. 2 holds are patched and pumped out and work on vessels boiler room commenced.

28 October 1942:
Tied up alongside TENRYU MARU. Repair operations center around boiler room, starboard coal bunker and bilges. Attention shifts to engine room from end November until TENRYU MARU's destruction by air attack on 25 December. [1]

16 December 1942:
At 0500, NAGAURA departs Truk on the starboard side of tanker TONAN MARU No. 2 under tow by liner SUWA MARU with an unknown tug on the port side, escorted by destroyer YUZUKI. [2]

21 December 1942:
At 0400, tows damaged auxiliary seaplane tender SANYO MARU to anchor 300 metres 333 degrees off Cape Pupukuna.

27 December 1942:
Oiler TOA MARU is lashed alongside. Then taken under tow by NAGAURA to Rekata Bay, Fauro Anchorage (Santa Isabel) escorted by destroyer YAMAGUMO.

30 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

12 March 1943:
At 1420, NAGAURA departs Rabaul with destroyer MOCHIZUKI escorting a convoy consisting of ASAKA, NISHIYAMA (SEIZAN), MOMOHA, FLORIDA, TOHO, TONEI and TASMANIA MARUs.

15 March 1943:
At 1115, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Roy S. Benson's (USNA ’29) USS TRIGGER (SS-237) torpedoes and sinks MOMOHA MARU at 00-02S, 145-05E. At 1355, as the escorts are transferring survivors to FLORIDA MARU, the ship is also torpedoed and damaged by USS TRIGGER. Subchaser CH-23, that came out to assist, rescues the survivors.

18 March 1943:
TONEI MARU and destroyer MOCHIZUKI return to abandoned FLORIDA MARU, which remains afloat, and tow the ship to Mowe anchorage, New Hannover.

19 March 1943:
The rest of the convoy arrives at Palau.

28 July 1943:
At 1300, NAGAURA departs an unknown destination (probably Kavieng).

29 July 1943:
At 0300, arrives at Rabaul.

30 December 1943:
NAGAURA departs Kavieng, New Ireland for Truk, Carolines towing damaged armed merchant cruiser KIYOSUMI MARU escorted by destroyer YUKAZE and minesweeper W-22. Auxiliary subchaser CHa-34 also provides close escort.

31 December 1943:
249 miles N of the Admiralty Islands. LtCdr Cyrus C. Cole's (USNA ’35) USS BALAO (SS-285) sights KIYOSUMI MARU and begins tracking her on the surface.

1 January 1944:
SW of Truk. At 2345, LtCdr Cole fires six bow torpedoes at KIYOSUMI MARU at 04-35N, 147-15E. Three hit and disable the ship and flood her forward hold. That same day, light cruiser NAKA arrives from Truk and takes KIYOSUMI MARU under tow. [3]

2 January 1944:
Destroyer TANIKAZE departs Truk to assist NAKA tow KIYOSUMI MARU to Truk. Light cruiser OYODO and destroyer AKIZUKI also arrive and provide escort.

4 January 1944:
OYODO and AKIZUKI detach and return to Truk.

8 January 1944:
NAKA and TANIKAZE arrive at Truk with KIYOSUMI MARU under tow.

20 February 1944:
NAGAURA departs Rabaul for Palau in convoy O-003 consisting of gunboat KOWA MARU and transport KOKAI MARU, evacuating 751st Naval Air Group (Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber) maintenance personnel to Japan, escorted by subchasers CH-37 and CH-38 and auxiliary subchaser CHa-48.

21 February 1944:
N of New Hanover. At 1320, the convoy is attacked by 15 North American B-25 "Mitchell" medium bombers of the 5th Air Force's 345th Bomb Group's 500th and 501st Bomb Squadrons that bomb, strafe and sink KOKAI (19 crewmen and seven passengers KIA) and KOWA MARUs (22 crewmen KIA) and CHa-48 and damage CH-38 heavily at 02-30S, 150-15E. NAGAURA effects repairs, then rescues some of the survivors and continues on her voyage north.

Eight of the B-25s are damaged by AA fire and one has to ditch off Finschafen, New Guinea. All five crewmembers escape. Some 19 hours later, they are picked up from their life rafts by Australian auxiliary patrol boat HMAS PALUMA.

22 February 1944:
160 miles NW of Kavieng. Cdr (later Admiral/CNO) Arleigh A. Burke’s (USNA ’23) TG 39.4 (DesRon 23) ("Little Beavers") DesDiv 45’s, USS CHARLES AUSBURNE (DD-570), USS DYSON (DD-572) and USS STANLY (DD-478) and DesDiv 46’s USS CONWAY (DD-507) and USS SPENCE (DD-512), sink NAGAURA by gunfire at 00-54S, 148-38E.

About 150 survivors are observed in the water of which about half are rescued. The rest choose to die, some in a bizarre manner, in some cases cutting their throats, or deliberately diving many times before the determination to die overcomes their instincts for self-preservation.

Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
No data were found for NAGAURA's movements during most of 1942. Readers with access to any such data are requested to post the information on the Discussion and Questions board or's IJN Ship Message Board

[1] It is unclear from existing data when NAGAURA breaks off salvage and returns to Truk.

[2] On 10 Oct '42, ex-whaling factory ship TONAN MARU No. 2 was torpedoed and sunk in shallow water inside Kavieng, New Ireland's harbor by LtCdr John A. Bole’s (USNA ’28) USS AMBERJACK (SS-219). Later, the Japanese pumped out, refloated and towed TONAN MARU No. 2 to Truk where she underwent temporary repairs. It is unclear from existing data when and where NAGAURA was detached.

[3] On 3 Nov '43, KIYOSUMI MARU was damaged by B-24 bombers and again on 25 Dec '43 at Kavieng by USN aircraft. It is unclear from existing data when and where NAGAURA was detached.

- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

Thanks to Gilbert Casse of France.

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