(HONAN MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2013 Bob Hackett
Revision 1

Tsurumi, Yokohama. Laid down at Nippon Kokan K.K. as a 5,396-ton Type 1K Standard Merchant ore carrier for Nissan Kisen K.K., Tokyo.

Launched and named NICHIREI MARU.

October 1943:

13 December 1943:
At 1500, NICHIREI MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 121 consisting of cargo ships BATAVIA and HIROTA MARUs, oilers TENEI MARU, SARAWAK, OGURA MARU No. 2, FUSHIMI MARU No. 3 and eight unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE and minesweeper W-33. [1]

17 December 1943:
S of the Ryukyus. At 2226, LtCdr Henry C. Stevenson’s (USNA '30) USS ASPRO (SS-309) torpedoes and damages SARAWAK MARU at 24-10, 124-40E. About the same time, ASPRO torpedoes and damages TENEI MARU at the same place. SHIOKAZE counterattacks, but ASPRO evades and escapes.

20 December 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

16 January 1944:
NICHIREI MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 235 also consisting of BOKO (ex British SAGRES), FUJIKAWA, HAMBURG, HORAI, KUMAGAWA, MISAKI, and RIZAN MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 escorted by old destroyer KURETAKE.

23 January 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

19 February 1944:
At 1500, NICHIREI MARU departs Mutsure for Takao, Formosa in convoy MOTA-05 also consisting of TEIKON (ex-German WINNETOU), HOREI, GYOKO, SHONAN and TAKEKAWA MARUs and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan IKI. At an unknown date TAKEKAWA MARU is detached for Shanghai.

23 February 1944:
At 0510, LtCdr Ralph M. Metcalf’s (USNA '35) USS POGY (SS-266) torpedoes TEIKON MARU, but she does not sink. A few minutes later, Metcalf also torpedoes HOREI MARU that goes dead in the water. IKI does not counter-attack. SHONAN MARU takes HOREI MARU in tow, but she splits in two and sinks off Naha harbor, Okinawa. That same day, GYOKO MARU is attacked by ten aircraft and sunk.

26 February 1944:
The remainder of the convoy arrives at Takao, Formosa.

6 March 1944:
NICHIREI MARU departs Takao for Cap St Jacques,Indochina via Yulin, China in convoy TASA-08 also consisting of LONDON, ISHIKARI and TOYOKUNI MARUs and four unidentified ships escorted by subchasers CH-21, CH-41 and CH-43 and auxilary gunboat PEKING MARU. NICHIREI MARU carries supplies and general cargo while en route to Yulin probably to load bauxite ore.

8 March 1944:
SE of Hong Kong. At 1455, LtCdr Lowell T. Stone’s (USNA ‘29) USS LAPON (SS-260) torpedoes and damages TOYOKUNI MARU. She loses power and goes dead in the water. NICHIREI MARU takes her in tow.

9 March 1944:
350 miles W of Cape Bojeador, Luzon. At 0150, LAPON torpedoes NICHIREI MARU while she is still towing TOYOKUNI MARU. LtCdr Stone also torpedoes and sinks TOYOKUNI MARU at 19-42N, 116-56E. The escorts, including an aircraft, counter-attack, but fail to damage LAPON.

At about 0500, NICHIREI MARU sinks at 19-44N, 115-52E. 46 crewmen and six gunners are KIA.

- Bob Hackett

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