(Oiler by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings
of Japanese Warships")
IJN NIPPO MARU: Tabular Record of Movement
© 2008-2010 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.
5 October 1943:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding as a 10,528-ton Standard Merchant 1TL-13 tanker for Iino Kaiun Kogyo K. K.
12 January 1944:
Launched and named NIPPO MARU. 
5 March 1944:
Completed and requisitioned by the IJN.
6 March 1944:
Departs Nagasaki and later that day arrives at Sasebo.
14 March 1944:
Departs Sasebo and later that day arrives at Tokuyama.
19 March 1944:
Departs Tokuyama and later that day arrives at Hesaki.
20 March 1944:
Departs Hesaki and later that day arrives at Sasebo.
21 March 1944:
22 March 1944:
Arrives at Tokuyama.
27 March 1944:
Departs Tokuyama and later that day arrives at Moji.
30 March 1944:
Departs Moji and shifts to nearby Hesaki.
1 April 1944:
Owner restyled Iino Kaiun Kaisha.
7 April 1944:
Departs Hesaki and returns to Moji.
9 April 1944:
Departs Moji for nearby Hesaki.
10 April 1944:
Departs Hesaki and arrives at Tokuyama.
11 April 1944:
Departs Tokuyama and arrives at Hesaki.
19 April 1944:
Transfers to Mutsure.
20 April 1944:
At 0600, NIPPO MARU departs Moji in convoy HI-59 consisting of tankers OKIKAWA, EIHO, NIYO, MANEI and OTORISAN MARUs and four unidentified ships escorted by kaibokan KURAHASHI, CD-10, CD-11 and CD-20.
21 April 1944:
KURAHASHI and CD-20 are detached.
22 April 1944:
Anchors off Ssu Chiao Shan.
26 April 1944:
Departs Ssu Chiao Shan.
28 April 1944:
At 1410, arrives at Takao. KURAHASHI and CD-20 rejoin.
29 April 1944:
At 0920, departs Takao.
2 May 1944:
At 1200, arrives at Manila and convoy dissolved.
4 May 1944:
Departs Manila, probably in an unidentifed convoy with tanker EIHO MARU. 
10 May 1944:
Arrives at Balikpapan.
28 May 1944:
At 0800, NIPPO MARU departs Balikpapan in a convoy with HOKKAI MARU escorted by patrol boat PB-2. At 2137, anchors at Laut Island.
29 May 1944:
At 0755, departs Laut Island.
3 June 1944:
At 1537, arrives at Singapore.
13 June 1944:
Shifts from Seletar Naval Base to Keppel Harbour, Singapore's commercial port. Docks for repairs.
14 September 1944:
Repairs are completed. Departs Keppel Harbour. Later that day, arrives at Pulau Bukum.
15 September 1944:
Departs Pulau Bukum and anchors in Singapore. roadstead.
26 September 1944:
Departs Singapore and later that day arrives at Lingga anchorage.
1 October 1944:
Departs Lingga anchorage.
3 October 1944:
Arrives at Geylang.
11 October 1944:
Departs Geylang and later that day arrives at Seletar.
16 October 1944:
Yokohama. Combined Fleet Headquarters, Keio University. Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Kusaka Ryunosuke (41)(former CO of AKAGI) releases a dispatch that assigns oiler ITSUKUSHIMA MARU, minelayer YURIJIMA, kaibokan CHIBURI, CD-19 and CD-27 and minesweeper W-34 to Vice Admiral Kurita Takeo's (38)(former CO of KONGO) First Striking Force's 1st Supply Force with oilers NICHEI, YUHO, OMUROSAN, RYOEI and BANEI MARUs. Later, oilers NIPPO and HAKKO MARUs are also assigned to Kurita's force.
17 October 1944:
Vice Admiral Kurita orders NIPPO and OMUROSAN MARUs to proceed to Brunei , Borneo with minelayer YURIJIMA and CD-27.
20 October 1944:
Departs Seletar, Singapore.
22 October 1944:
Arrives at Brunei. At 0800, Kurita's Striking Force steams for Leyte Gulf via the Sibuyan Sea and San Bernardino Strait. Kurita orders Vice Admiral Nishimura Shoji's (39)(former CO of HARUNA) BatDiv 2, cruiser MOGAMI and four destroyers to sortie through Surigao Strait to Leyte Gulf to envelop the U.S. invasion forces. Vice Admiral Shima Kiyohide's (39)(former CO of OI) Fifth Fleet from the Pescadores is also to sortie through Surigao Strait to Leyte Gulf.
24 October 1944:
Brunei. Oiler ITSUKUSHIMA MARU loads 13,000-tons of oil. NIPPO MARU departs to refuel Shima's force escorted by kaibokan CHIBURI, CD-17, CD-19 and CD-27.
25 October 1944: Operation "SHO-I-GO" (Victory) - The Battle of Leyte Gulf:
In the course of battle, Kurita loses superbattleship MUSASHI, cruisers ATAGO, MAYA, CHOKAI, CHIKUMA and SUZUYA with KUMANO, MYOKO and TAKAO damaged severely. Several destroyers are also lost or damaged. Nishimura loses old battleships FUSO and YAMASHIRO and cruiser MOGAMI. Shima arrives behind the carnage wrought on Nishimura's force and wisely reverses his small force's course away from certain destruction.
After the battle, NIPPO and ITSUKUSHIMA MARUs are ordered to return to Brunei.
27 October 1944:
Balabac Strait, W of Palawan Passage. At 0248, LtCdr John M. Hyde's USS BERGALL (SS-320), on patrol near Dangerous Ground, makes SJ radar contact on four targets at 21,000 yards. Hyde commences tracking on the surface. When the contacts became visible they are identified as large oilers accompanied by one large and one small escort.
At 0336 (H), LtCdr Hyde fires six bow torpedoes at 3,500 yards range. At 0339, ITSUKUSHIMA MARU is hit by one torpedo. ITSUKUSHIMA MARU remains afloat, but goes dead in the water. ITSUKUSHIMA MARU begins drifting between Sunken Barrier Shoals and the coast of Borneo in water so shallow BERGALL can not dive.
At 0445, NIPPO MARU, the second oiler in line, is hit and sinks at about 0510 at 7-17N, 116-45E. The escorts counter-attack and drop 14 depth charges, but BERGALL clears the area on surface. 
Removed from the Navy List.
 NIPPO MARU was also known as NICHIHO MARU. Several smaller cargo and water tankers were also named NIPPO MARU which creates confusion for the researcher. One of these was sunk at Truk in Feb '44.
 The inclusion of tanker EIHO MARU is speculative, but highly probable since it is unlikely these two valuable and similar speed ships sailed separately. They likely left in convoy on either 4th of 5th from Manila (or possibly midnight 4/5 May).
 On 29 Oct ’44, off Kudat, N. Borneo, ITSUKUSHIMA MARU was bombed by a PB4Y (B-24) "Privateer". On 1 Nov ’44, she finally succumbed to her submarine and air battle damage and sank at 05-04N, 119-47E. Australian troops in late 1945 reported a wrecked 10,000 ton tanker aground near Kudat. The wreck may have been either ITSUKUSHIMA or NIPPO MARU, but appears more likely to be the former. Presumably, this wreck was scrapped postwar.
Thanks for assistance in preparing this TROM go to Sander Kingsepp of Estonia.
- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.
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