(NANA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2016 Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 2

17 June 1939:
Aioi. Laid down by Harima Zosensho K.K. shipyard as a 6,757-ton passenger/cargo ship for Kokusai Kisen K.K., Tokyo, but is purchased on the stocks by the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line of Osaka.

16 April 1940:
Launched and named NANA MARU.

29 June 1940:
Completed and registered in Osaka.

E June 1940:
Placed on OSK’s Japan ~ West Africa regular run.

E July 1940:
Britain, at war in Europe, puts limitations on merchant ships calling on their African ports. NANA MARU is the last ship to sail from Japan before OSK's West Africa commercial service ends.

21 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJN as a transport (Ippan Choyosen). [1]

1 October 1941:
Registered in the IJN under internal order No. 1168 and attached to the Maizuru Naval District. Captain Inohara Kunichi (33) is appointed CO.

12 October 1941:
Osaka. Conversion to an auxiliary transport is completed at Osaka Iron Works K.K.

E November 1941:
Re-attached to Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Tsukahara Nishizo’s (36) (former CO of CV AKAGI) 11th Air Fleet, Supply Unit as an auxiliary transport (Ko) category. NANA MARU’s home port is Takao, Formosa (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan). The 11th Air Fleet Supply Unit also consists of auxiliary aircraft transports KAMOGAWA, KEIYO and LYONS MARUs, ammunition ship TATSUGAMI MARU and auxiliary transports AMAGISAN, NIKKOKU MARUs and HINO MARU No. 5. [2]

30 December 1941:
Departs Takao.

5 January 1942:
Arrives at Davao, Mindanao, Philippines.

7 January 1942:
Departs Davao for Tarakan, Borneo.

10-11 January 1942:
Arrives near Tarakan waters. Later, provides supplies to Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto’s (39) Tarakan Occupation Force.

21 January 1942:
At 1700, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto's (39) Balikpapan Invasion Convoy departs Tarakan, Borneo with IJN transports NANA, ASAHISAN, TATSUGAMI, KANAYAMASAN, SUMANOURA, KUMAGAWA, TOEI (4,004 GRT) and NITTEI MARUs and IJA transports KURETAKE, HAVANA, EHIME, LIVERPOOL, TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG), HITERU, TSURAGU, HANKOW and NISSHO MARUs carrying the Balikpapan Invasion Force consisting of MajGen Sakaguchi Shizuo’s 56th Mixed Infantry Group (Sakaguchi Detachment) and the Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) escorted by patrol boats PB-36, PB-37, PB-38, minesweepers W-15, W-16, W-17, W-18 and SubChasDiv 31's CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12.

Cover is provided by light cruiser NAKA with DesDiv 2's YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, MURASAME, HARUSAME, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO and DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE and UMIKAZE. Seaplane tenders SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover.

Poor weather hampers air reconnaissance by ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) forces, but ABDA Air finally locates the invasion force. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) William A. Glassford's Task Force 5's light cruisers USS MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), USS BOISE (CL-47) and Cdr (later Captain) Paul H. Talbot's (USNA '18), DesDiv 59's old destroyers USS PARROTT (DD-218), USS POPE (DD-225), USS JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and USS PAUL JONES (DD-230) are ordered to stop the invasion force, but USS BOISE runs aground and USS MARBLEHEAD develops engine trouble. DesDiv 59 is detached and increases speed to arrive at Balikpapan at midnight on January 23.

23 January 1942: The Invasion of Balikpapan, Borneo:
Storms protect the invasion force until it is almost to Balikpapan. At 1050 (local time), the convoy is attacked by three enemy aircraft, which are repulsed. At 1625, nine Dutch Martin Model 166 (139WH-3) (B-10) bombers and four light bombers from Samarinda attack and hit transports NANA and TATSUGAMI MARUs.

At 1646, NANA MARU is hit in No. 6 hold by a bomb, splinters from others that land to port alongside the same hold adds to the fires raised. At 1650, No. 5 hold’s aviation gasoline ignites and explodes. Navigation becomes impossible and over the following hours the flames take a firm grip. At 1730, the Abandon Ship order is given. Finally, at 2100, after a huge explosion, NANA MARU sinks at 01-18S, 117-43E.

5 February 1942:
Removed from the Navy’s list under internal order No. 226.

Authors notes :
[1] See Zatsuyosen home page for full explanation.
[2] There were two categories of Zatsuyosen. (Ko) category with an IJN Captain as supervisor aboard and (Otsu) category without.

Thanks go to Gengoro S. Toda of Japan and to to Matthew Jones of Mississippi, USA for COs' info.

-Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

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