(NIGITSU MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

IJA Landing Craft Depot Ship NIGITSU MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2010-2017 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 3

10 March 1942:
Aioi. Laid down at Harima Shipbuilding as a passenger liner for Nippon Kaiun, K. K. Thereafter, requisitioned by the IJA and converted on the stocks to a 9,547-ton assault landing ship with allotted number No. 983. The ship is fitted with a flight deck above the hull, but has no hangar.

28 November 1942:
Launched and named NIGITSU MARU.

30 March 1943:

12 April 1943:
Arrives at Ujina (Hiroshima). Probably loads munitions.

27 April 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

1 May 1943:
Departs Palau.

3 May 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul and departs later that day.

4 May 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

6 May 1943:
Departs Palau.

14 May 1943:
Patrol boat PB-46 joins NIGITSU MARU at 27-27N, 134-05E and escorts her north.

15 May 1943:
PB-46 is detached off Fukajima. Arrives at Ujina. Probably loads munitions.

16 May 1943:
Departs Ujina and later that day arrives at Saeki.

24 May 1943:
Departs Saeki with patrol boat PB-46 and is escorted south.

25 May 1943:
PB-46 is detached at 29N.

28 May 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

30 May 1943:
Departs Palau.

5 June 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

6 June 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

14 June 1943:
Arrives at Palau and departs later that day.

16 June 1943:
At 1030, minelayers YURIJIMA and NUWAJIMA join NIGITSU MARU as escorts at 27-04N, 134-00E and head north.

E 17 June 1943:
Kaibokan IKI also joins as an escort. Later that day, arrives at Ujina. NIGITSU MARU probably loads munitions.

26 June 1943:
Departs Ujina.

27 June 1943:
Arrives at Fusan (Pusan), Korea. Probably loads troops.

29 June 1943:
Departs Fusan.

30 June 1943:
Arrives at Ujina. Probably loads munitions.

1 July 1943:
Departs Ujina in convoy O-703 and later that day arrives at Saeki.

7 July 1943:
At 1400, NIGITSU MARU departs Saeki for Truk in convoy O-703 also consisting of auxiliary tanker TOA MARU and IJA transport AOBASAN MARUs escorted by destroyer UMIKAZE and minelayer NUWAJIMA.

E 8 July 1943:
NUWAJIMA is detached from the convoy at 29N.

10 July 1943:
At 0600, at 20-55N, 144-00E, TOA MARU is detached and steams ahead unescorted.

13 July 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

17 July 1943:
Departs Palau in convoy SO-705 also consisting of MEXICO, KAYO, HOZUGAWA and HAVRE MARUs escorted by submarine chasers CH-37, CH-38 and CH-39. The convoy sails at 8.5 knots.

24 July 1943:
At 1450 arrives at Rabaul.

26 July 1943:
At 1400 departs Rabaul in convoy O-604 also consisting of HOKKO (5346 gt), TOKO (2747 gt), RYOYO and KANAYAMASAN MARUs and one unidentified merchant ship escorted by submarine chasers CH-16 and CH-17. The convoy sails at 9 knots.

1 August 1943:
Arrives at Palau.

4 August 1943:
Departs Palau in convoy FU-407 also consisting of IJA transports AOBASAN, KANSAI and NISSHO MARUs escorted by torpedo boat HATO. The convoy sails at 12.5 knots.

E 10 August 1943:
Minelayer NUWAJIMA and later auxiliary minesweepers TAKUNAN MARU No. 8 and TAMA MARU No. 7 join the convoy.

11 August 1943:
Arrives at Ujina.

10 October 1943:
NIGITSU MARU and IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU depart Ujina escorted by destroyer HARUKAZE.

18 October 1943:
Arrive at Palau.

22 October 1943:
Departs Palau in convoy FU-202 also consisting of IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU descorted by destroyer HARUKAZE. The convoy sails at 16 knots.

27 October 1943:
Arrives at Ujina. Probably loads munitions.

28 October 1943:
Departs Ujina.

5 November 1943:
Arrives at Fusan (Pusan). Probably loads troops.

8 November 1943:
Departs Fusan and later that day arrives at Mutsure.

10 November 1943:
NIGITSU MARU departs Mutsure in convoy SA-17 consisting of tankers KYOKUTO, OKIGAWA, MIRI MARUs, cargo-passenger ships ORYOKU and USSURI MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU escorted by patrol boat PB-36 and fleet tanker ASHIZURI.

14 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa (Taiwan).

15 November 1943:
Departs Takao. [1]

18 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

19 November 1943:
Departs Takao.

21 November 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

25 November 1943:
Arrives at Cebu, Philippines.

26 November 1943:
Departs Cebu.

1 December 1943:
At 1400 arrives at Manila in convoy with MAYASAN MARU.

3 December 1943:
At 0630 departs Manila in RINJI convoy I with MAYASAN MARU for Takao. Kaibokan KANJU joins the convoy soon after it leaves Manila.

5 December 1943:
Arrives at Takao where KANJU is detached.

10 December 1943:
Arrives at Palau. [NB dubious]

15 December 1943:
At 1500, NIGITSU MARU departs Takao for Moji in convoy No. 227 also consisting of SEATTLE, HORAIZAN, GYOKUREI, KENREI, NIKKO and HOREI MARUs, and KOTO MARU No. 2 escorted by minelayer NUMAKAZE.

16 December 1943:
ORYOKU and TEIYO MARUs join the convoy at Keelung. NIGITSU MARU probably is detached and steams to Palau.

17 December 1943:
At 1800, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a signal from the CO of DesDiv 11 that reads: "The entire bow of NUMAKAZE has broken off from three meters above vicinity -----. There is a hole above and below the waterline on both sides of the ship forward of #1 main bulkhead. Another hole along the #7 beam starboard side above waterline 1 meter and about 30 centimeters. Have completed one patch and able to do eighteen knots.”

18 December 1943:
50 miles ENE of Naha, Okinawa. LtCdr John A. Moore’s (later KIA) (USNA ’32) USS GRAYBACK (SS-208) (later lost in action) torpedoes and sinks NUMAKAZE with all hands at 26-29 N, 128-26 E.

At 2130, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt another signal that reads: : “NUMAKAZE under tactical command commander DesDiv 1 left Takao escorting convoy No. 227. Route Moji. On 18 December at 2130 in position 26-30N, 128-13E reported sighting enemy submarine and depth charging same. Since then, nothing has been heard from said vessel. ----. A large quantity of material washed ashore at Betozaki in Okinawa.”

19 December 1943:
Departs Palau.

31 December 1943:
Departs Saiki in convoy O-101 consisting of NIGITSU MARU escorted by kaibokan IKI.

6 January 1944:
Arrives at Palau.

9 January 1944:
NIGITSU MARU departs Palau for Ujina in convoy FU-901 as the sole merchant ship escorted by destroyer AMAGIRI. NIGITSU MARU carries about 2,000 troops aboard including many soldiers of the 12th Independent Engineer Regiment.

12 January 1944:
Off Okino-Daito Island, SE of Okinawa. At about 1900, LtCdr John C. Broach’s (USNA ’27) USS HAKE (SS-256) fires four torpedoes from the surface and gets two hits on NIGITSU MARU that flood her engine room. Destroyer AMAGIRI counter-attacks with depth charges thinking the submarine is submerged. Over the next 2.5 hours, AMAGIRI drops 37 DCs as USS HAKE clears the area on the surface at high speed.

NIGITSU MARU sinks by the stern in eight minutes at 23-15N, 132-51E. 456 soldiers, 83 gunners and 35 crewmen are KIA. AMAGIRI rescues an unknown number of survivors and lands them in Japan.

E 1944:
Removed from the IJA Ship List

Authors' Notes:
[1] Some sources say Mako.

Thanks go to John Whitman of the USA for info on the troops carried by NIGITSU MARU and to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France.

Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall