(Launching of sistership SHOKEI MARU)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2018 Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 1

E 1938:
Osaka. Laid down by Naniwa Dock K.K. shipyard for Okazaki Honten K.K. as a cargo ship with strengthened hull for ice navigation.

11 December 1938:

Launched and named NICHIEI MARU. [1]

5 April 1939:
Completed with 2,446-tons Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) and registered in Kobe.

E May 1939-May 1943:
Little is known about the ship’s movements. She operated in Inland Sea, Korea, China and northern waters making calls at Yinkou Region, China ~ Shandong Peninsula, China ~ Kanto Region, Japan ~ Chosen (now Korea) ~ Karafuto (now Sakhalin) and Hokkaido.

28 May 1943:
Placed under the Civilian Administration (Senpaku Uneikai) control as a chartered ship.

21 June 1943:
Her owners change to Mitsubishi Kisen K.K. and her registry port to Tokyo. Her GRT is now 2,436-tons.

19 September 1943:
At 0950, departs Mako, Pescadores, for Moji in convoy No. 205 also consisting of auxiliary oiler HOKUAN MARU, IJA transports KYOKKO, SEIZAN, CHINA, TEIKO (ex-French D’ARTAGNAN), FUKUJU and DENMARK MARUs and requisitioned ore carrier GINREI MARU, escorted by patrol boat PB-2 and auxiliary TOYO MARU No. 3.

20 September 1943:
The convoy is joined by IJA transports KENZUI, BIYO, TATSUHA, TOSEI and JINZAN MARUs and IJN requisitioned ore carrier (B-AC) GINREI MARU.

24 September 1943:
At 1600, the convoy arrives at Moji less HOKUAN MARU that detached earlier.

28 September 1943:
Released from the Civilian Administration control and requisitioned that same day by the IJN as a general requisitioned transport (Ippan Choyosen).

1 October 1943:
Departs Kobe.

2 October 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

6 October 1943:
Departs Kure.

7 October 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

10 October 1943:
At 1505, departs Moji for Takao in convoy No. 105 also consisting of IJA transports TEIKAI (ex-German FULDA), CHICAGO, MIKASA, HEIAN, GYOTEN (ex-British EMPIRE PAGODA) MARUs, requisitioned passenger/cargo AMERICA MARU, civilian ore carrier GYOKUREI MARU, auxiliary oiler SAN RAMON MARU and civilian tanker MITSU MARU escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE.

15 October 1943:
At 0110, LtCdr (later KIA) Charles F. Brindupke's (USNA '32) USS TULLIBEE (SS-284) torpedoes and sinks CHICAGO MARU at 24-30N, 120-26E. 43 troops and eight crewmen are KIA. Over the next five hours, NICHIEI, SAN RAMON and GYOKUREI MARUs rescue survivors.

16 October 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan).

24 October 1943:
Departs Takao.

E October-December 1943:
Calls at Manila, Luzon ~ Cebu ~ Zamboanga, Mindanao ~ Tarakan, Borneo and Balikpapan, Borneo.

15 December 1943:
Engaged with auxiliary transport ENOSHIMA MARU in towing auxiliary oiler KUMAGAWA (TAMAGAWA) MARU, torpedoed two months earlier, to Surabaya, Java.

16 December 1943:
The three ships arrive at Surabaya.

30 December 1943:
Departs Surabaya for Kupang via Nangahale in convoy “T” also consisting of IJA transports HEIMEI, NICHINAN (2,732 GRT, ’42), TENSHO MARUs and one unidentified ship escorted by subchasers CH-3 and CH-4.

2 January 1944:
Arrives at Nangahale, Flores Island where NICHINAN and TENSHO MARUs and the unidentified ship are detached for Waingapu, Sumba Island. The remainder of the convoy departs the next morning.

Registered that same day in the IJN as an auxiliary transport and attached to the Kure Naval District with Kure as homeport under internal order No. 16.

Tactically assigned to the Southwest Area Fleet as an auxiliary transport (Otsu) category. [2]

3 January 1944:
Departs Nangahale for Kupang, still in convoy “T” now also consisting of IJA transport HEIMEI MARU escorted by subchasers CH-3 and CH-4.

4 January 1944:
At 1200, the convoy arrives at Kupang, Timor. About 1700, the anchorage is attacked by B-25 “Mitchell” medium bombers at low level. One B-25 strikes HEIMEI MARU and crashes into the sea. Its bomb load lands on the ship, which later has to be scuttled by shore-based gunfire. Two crewmen are KIA.

E 5-8 January 1944:
Unloads cargo. Departs Kupang for Surabaya escorted by subchaser CH-3.

10 January 1944:
At 1630, arrives at Surabaya.

18 April 1944:
Biak, New Guinea. Sustains aerial bombing without damage.

E April-May 1944:
Departs Ambon, Moluccas.

18 May 1944:
Biak, New Guinea. Receives minor damage from aerial bombing. Departs later that same day.

19 May 1944:
Arrives at Manokwari, New Guinea.

E May-June 1944:
Arrives at Ambon.

22 June 1944:
Her CO is civilian Captain Ueda Kichisuke.

E June 1944:
Departs Kendari, Celebes (now Sulawesi).

23 June 1944:
At 0400 departs Salabangka escorted by auxiliary submarine chaser SHONAN MARU No. 17 and auxiliary minesweeper Wa-4.

26 June 1944:
At 1640 arrives at Namlea. Receives damage from an airstrike.

27 June 1944:
Minesweeper W-12 together with auxiliary minesweeper TAKUNAN MARU No. 5 and SHONAN MARU No. 2 joins escort of auxiliary transport NICHIEI MARU convoy and depart Namlea. Later that day at 1300 arrives at Ambon.

E 28 June- 8 July 1944:
Undergoes emergency repairs.

9 July 1944:
At 0800 departs Ambon in unnumbered convoy also consisting of auxiliary transport JUZAN MARU escorted by auxiliary subchasers TAKUNAN MARU No. 5 and SHONAN MARU No. 17.

13 July 1944:
At 1700 arrives at Kendari.

17 August 1944:
At 1200 departs Surabaya in a convoy also consisting tankers ENOSHIMA (ex British EBONOL), BAIEI, YOSEI (ex Dutch JOSEFINA) and KOKKO MARUs escorted by auxiliary minesweeper Wa-9 and auxiliary NITTO MARU No. 17.

22 August 1944:
At 1300 arrives at Balikpapan.

E late August 1944:
Departs Balikpapan.

5 September 1944:
At 0530 departs Tarakan escorted by minesweeper W-101 and auxiliary patrol boat CHINZEI MARU. At 1850 temporarily anchors in Trusan Ligitan.

6 September 1944:
At 0530 departs Trusan Ligitan and at 1600 arrives at Bongao.

7 September 1944:
At 0530 departs Bongao and at 1900 arrives at Jolo.

8 September 1944:
At 0630 departs Jolo and at 1710 arrives at Zamboanga. At 2100 retires to west side of Basilan Island. Later relocates to off Pilas Island.

10 September 1944:
At 1600 arrives back at Zamboanga and then departs with Naval Transport No. 102 having joined.

11 September 1944:
Arrives at Cebu.

12 September 1944:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA ’10) TF-38 carrier-based aircraft of TGs 38.1, 38.2 and 38.3 attack Japanese installations on Cebu. The aircraft also attack shipping and sink 20 vessels including NICHIEI MARU, hit and sunk at 10-20N, 124-00E. One crewman is KIA.

10 November 1944:
Removed from the Navy’s list under internal order No. 1258.

Authors Notes:
[1] Not to be confused with the auxiliary oiler (10,020 GRT, ‘38).

[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. Photo credit and thanks go also to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

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