(ALFRED NOBEL, later NICHIMEI MARU at Rotterdam in 1912) prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014- 2016 Bob Hackett

E 1911:
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Laid down at Armstrong W. G. & Whitworth Co. Ltd., as a 4,693-ton passenger-cargo ship for Hanssen Bernhard (A/S Atlantis) Flekkefjord, Norway.

14 August 1912:
Launched and named ALFRED NOBEL.

September 1912:
Completed. Placed on Bergen, Norway ~ Rotterdam, Netherlands ~ New York service.

Sold to Bergen Steamship Co Cosmopolitan Ltd A/S (Johan Gran), Bergen. Renamed ORTRI.

Sold to Nissan Kisen K.K. of Tokyo. Renamed NICHIMEI MARU. [1]

13 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Armu (IJA) and allotted Army No. 436.

10 December 1941: Operation "G" (G Sakusen) - The Seizure of Guam:
NICHIMEI MARU is in Rear Admiral Kasuga Atsushi's (37)(former CO of CHOKAI) 5th Base Force's Invasion Force also consisting of transports CLYDE, CHERIBON, CHINA, YOKOHAMA, DAIFUKU, KOGYOKU, VENICE, MATSUE and MOJI MARUs

The Invasion Force lands MajGen Horii Tomitaro’s 55th Infantry Corps 55th Division’s Headquarters, 3d Company, 55th Cavalry, 55th Division plus an anti-tank platoon, 144th Infantry Regiment of 2,673 men, 144th Infantry Artillery Unit, 1st Battalion, 55th Mountain Artillery Regiment with twelve 75mm mountain guns, 1st Company, 55th Engineer Regiment’s 3rd Company (less one platoon) and 10th Independent Engineer Regiment.

The Invasion Force is covered by, DesDiv 23’s destroyer OBORO, minelayer TSUGARU (F), GunbtDiv 7, SubChasDivs 59 and 60 and MineDiv 15. Seaplane tender KIYOKAWA MARU provides air cover.

The Invasion Force also lands naval units of the 5th Defense Unit Detachment 15th Naval Base Headquarters and 15th Communications Unit. Japanese troops quickly overrun Guam's few United States Marine Corps defenders.

16 June 1942:
NICHIMEI MARU departs Mutsure in convoy No. 125 also consisting of GENKAI MARU and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer SANAE.

21 June 1942:
Arrives at Mako, Pescadores.

9 January 1943:
NICHIMEI MARU departs Singapore for Rangoon, Burma in convoy S-23 also consisting of MOJI MARU escorted by subchaser CH-8 and and auxiliary net layer CHOKO MARU.

NICHIMEI MARU is carrying 1,562 IJA troops and 965 Dutch POWs. MOJI MARU is carrying an unknown number of IJA troops and 450 American, prisoners-of-war (POWs), including sailors from cruiser USS HOUSTON (CA-30) and 385 Australian POWs.

11 January 1943:
NICHIMEI MARU departs Penang, Malaya for Moulmein, Burma (now Mawlamyine, Myanmar)

15 January 1943:
Gulf of Martaban. 50 miles from Moulmein. At about 1520, a flight of USAAF Tenth Air Force Consolidated B-24 “Liberator” heavy bombers attacks the convoy. On their first pass, their bombs straddle NICHIMEI MARU and cut communications. On their next pass, one bomb hits between her No. 2 hold and the engine room, another bomb hits the bridge, and others are near misses. NICHIMEI MARU comes to a stop and takes on a 15 degree list. The bombers return and strafe the convoy.

The B-24s next target MOJI MARU and damage her with near-miss bombs. About 12 Australian POWs, including two sailors from cruiser HMAS PERTH, are KIA.

At 1550, NICHIMEI MARU sinks at 13-30N, 97-30E. 97 IJN soldiers including engineers bound for the Burma Railway and five gunners and crewmen are KIA. 38 Dutch POWs are also killed. The ship also takes down a locomotive, RR ties and hundreds of picks and shovels intended for the Burma Railway.

Author's Note:
[1] Also known as NITMEI MARU or MITMEI MARU.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

- Bob Hackett

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