IJN Nisshin: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2003 Anthony P. Tully

30 November 1939:
Launched, but completion delayed by decision to add midget submarine deployment to her seaplane carrying capabilities.

19 February 1942:
Ship makes trial runs.`Portrait' photo taken.

27 February 1942:
Captain Komazawa Katsumi, former fitting-out officer, formally assigned as Commanding Officer per standard practice.

3 March 1942:
In the Inland Sea. When CHIYODA's midget sub No.13 sinks during training the NISSHIN and destroyer YAKAZE are dispatched to search for it. The tender locates the sunken vessel, but it is too late to do anything, and all three men aboard the midget are lost.

20 March 1942:
At Hashirajima. Assigned to VADM the Marquis Teruhisa Komatsu Advance Force, Sixth Fleet.

16 April 1942:
1100: Depart Hashirajima for Pore Moresby.

26 April 1942:
Arrive at Surabaya via Davao.

8 May 1942:
Return to Hashirajima.

29 May 1942: Battle of Midway:
Depart Hashirajima and sailing as part of Yamamoto's `Main Body' - attached to the "Special Duty Unit" with CHIYODA, unit under the command of its CO, Captain Harada Kaku. The NISSHIN carries midget submarines (as does CHIYODA) instead of seaplanes for this campaign. The midget submarines are to be landed after arrival at Midway the afternoon of 6 June; to become part of the new garrison's defenses.

6 June (US 5th)
0300: NISSHIN, operating a short distance from Main Body, is ordered along with 2nd Fleet and the Mobile Force, to proceed to a fueling rendevous in position 33'N, 170'E by morning of 7 June. This is later changed to afternoon of the 8th, and then morning of 9 June.

7 June 1942:
Afternoon: NISSHIN, operating a short distance from Main Body, is in position 31-17'N, 168-57'E, heading due south and preparing her one operational type 00 "Pete" seaplane to participate in the planned attack on TF 16 that night or following morning. This is called off the following day.

19 June 1942:
Return to Hashirajima.

18 September 1942:
Arrive at the Shorlands.

25 September 1942:
Depart Shortlands for Kavieng, arrive next day.

28 September 1942:
Some reports state that NISSHIN was torpedoed and damaged while east of Kokoda Island by USS SCULPIN (SS-191) this morning.(Note 1).

30 September 1942:
Depart Kavieng for Shortlands, arrive next day.

3 October 1942:
- 0630 NISSHIN departs Shortland on transport mission to Tassafaronga escorted by NOWAKI and MAIKAZE; the tender loaded with nine artillery pieces and 330 men, including General Maruyama Masao of the 2nd Division. (2nd Company, 21st Field Heavy Artillery Battalion.)
- 1540 attacked from air, no damage.
- 2200 Surprised by night air attack, NISSHIN is near-missed by a bomb that starts a leak in her engine room. Given the large amount of American radio traffic, the decision is made to cut short the disembarking and for NISSHIN to clear the area as soon as possible. She departs with two artillery and 80 soldiers still aboard. The new AA destroyer AKIZUKI is also dispatched from Rabaul to strengthen the escort the following day, and despite further air attack, NISSHIN's force returns safely.

7 October 1942:
NISSHIN starts on a second "express run" from Shortlands, but the mission is called off before she reaches the half-way point because no air cover is available.

8 October 1942:
NISSHIN transport mission from Shortlands. Loaded with six AA guns, two howitzers, 180 soldiers and escorted by the AKIZUKI, with four other destroyers loaded with 560 troops make a run to Guadalcanal.

9 October 1942:
0455 Having retired 150 miles up the Slot, NISSHIN group is attacked by planes. No damage.

11 October 1942:
NISSHIN and CHITOSE depart Shortlands for run to Tassafaronga carrying four howitzers, two field guns, one AA gun, equipment, and 280 men. They are escorted by six destroyers carrying more troops. A cover group group composed of Crudiv 6 AOBA, FURUTAKA, KINUGASA and two destroyers departs with them intending to cover the landing with a bombardment of Henderson Field.
- 2020 NISSHIN and CHITOSE arrive at Tassafaronga and begin unloading, but an hour and half later the covering bombardment group of Admiral Goto runs into an American surface force and the result is the Battle off Cape Esperance.

12 October 1942:
NISSHIN and CHITOSE withdraw unmolested, but detach destroyers SHIRAYUKI and MURAKUMO to go back to the rescue of stricken cruiser FURUTAKA's survivors, and ASAGUMO and NATSUGUMO to rendevous with the cruiser KINUGASA, now all alone. This latter effort ends in considerable disaster, with both the MURAKUMO and NATSUGUMO lost to air attack later that day.

13 October 1942:
NISSHIN photographed during attack by enemy planes off Bougainville.

14 October 1942:
2200: NISSHIN with SENDAI, YURA, ASAGUMO, AKATSUKI, IKAZUCHI, and SHIRAYUKI land a further 1,100 soldiers on Cape Esperance.

1 November 1942:
Depart Shortlands for Truk.

3 November 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

23 November 1942:
Depart Truk for Yokosuka.

27 November 1942:
Arrive at Yokosuka.

5 December 1942:
Captain relieved by Captain Ito Jotaro as Commanding Officer.

10 December 1942:
Depart Yokosuka for Truk.

15 December 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

17 December 1942:
Departs Truk.

19 December 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

21 December 1942:
Departs Rabaul.

27 December 1942:
Returns to Kure.

4 January 1943:
Departs Kure, voyaging thru Inland Sea.

11 January 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

15 February 1943:
Depart Truk for Kure in company with BatDiv 3.

20 February 1943:
Arrive at Kure.

9 April 1943:
Departs Kure.

13 May 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

15 May 1943:
Departs Rabaul.

22 May 1943:
Returns to Kure.

26 June 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

30 June 1943:
Arrives at Kure from Yokosuka.

10 July 1943:
Having been ordered to deliver reinforcements to Bougainville after the enemy invaded New Georgia Island, the NISSHIN departs Kure escorted by ARASHI and HAGIKAZE. Aboard the seaplane tender destined for the Buin garrisson are 630 troops of the No.4 South Seas Guard Unit, twenty-two tanks, some artillery, and a load of food and gasoline stores.

14 July 1943:
Arrive at Truk.

19 July 1943:
Depart Truk for Rabaul with MOGAMI, AGANO, OYODO, ISOKAZE, HAGIKAZE, and ARASHI.

21 July 1943:
Arrive at Rabaul; after rapid loading of an additional 250 soldiers aboard each of the three destroyers, the NISSHIN, ARASHI, HAGIKAZE, and ISOKAZE depart for the Shortlands the same evening. ComDesRon 10 RAdm. Osugi Morikazu shifts flag from AGANO to personally lead the operation from aboard HAGIKAZE.
- 2300: Enemy planes sighted, but Osugi decides to continue with the reinforcement.(Today Ultra deciphers specifics of the anchorage arrangements, dooming the NISSHIN. A fatal ambush is prepared).

22 July 1943:
- 1345: When the force is only two hours outside port, with arrival at Buin projected at 1600, enemy planes *{See Note 2} attack southwest of the Bougainville Channel. The first attack of more than ten B-17s is successfully evaded with the NISSHIN working up to 34 knots in evasion.
- 1353: Enemy dive-bombers plunge out of the clouds to port only 1,000 meters away. Despite swift evasive action, three hits are suffered. One on No.2 turret, one on the forward end of the aircraft deck, starting a fire, and the third most serious of all explodes inside the hangar deck which had been opened for offloading. These hits cut electric power, cut speed by more than half, and jam the rudder. However, a lull allows for counter-measures and the rudder is set back to the centerline.
- 1359 A third strike arrives, and in quick succession two more bombs strike the port sides amidships, tearing a large hole in the deck and blowing through the bottom. Still moving NISSHIN begins to list sharply to starboard and settle rapidly by the bow. A sixth and last bomb smashes into her starboard side amidships accelerating the list. The gunners remain at their posts till washed away from their mounts. Abandon Ship is ordered, but there is too little time for escape for either crew or troops.
- Sunk: At 1405 NISSHIN lurched sharply to starboard and plunged under the sea head first in position 06-33'S, 156-10'E. From first hit to sinking, only fourteen minutes had elapsed. Captain Ito, XO Commander Tanaka Eichu, and Chief Engineer Cdr. Terada Torao are all lost with the ship. Senior survivor officer is Navigator Lcdr. Tsuramaru Hirotsugu who was washed from the bridge as it sliced under the sea. Already loaded with troops, the destroyers are able to risk only two hours for rescue work before evacuating the scene. Due to the fire and swiftness of the disaster, casualties are very heavy. Less than 200 aboard survived: 7 officers and eighty petty officers and men of the tender, and only 91 of the 630 soldiers are rescued.

10 September 1942:
NISSHIN removed from Navy List.

Note 1: This seems in error. If the Nisshin was the target damaged, she received one or two torpedo hits on the port side at 0826 hours. One on the port quarter, one just abaft the bridge island. However, examination of Sculpin's patrol report shows that she sighted two targets this morning. The first, a Chiyoda-type tender, was sighted at 0640 with no escort but the submarine was unable to attack her. Then at 0738 sighted a second ship, which was identified as an Omurosan-type tanker escorted by one subchaser. This was the target actually attacked by four torpedoes at 0826. Reportedly it was left damaged and screws stopped. The first sighting at 0740 was likely Nisshin. Since Sculpin expressed surprise at being attacked by depth-charge dropped by an aircraft after the attack, the possibility does exist that the second target was the same as the first, i.e., Chiyoda-class, ie, the Nisshin. If so, the damage was minimal.

Note 2: U.S. records state that thirty-four SBD dive-bombers and bomb-armed TBFs, twelve B-24 bombers, and a group of B-17s participated in the series of attacks that sank NISSHIN.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to John Whitman for some extra details of transport missions.

- A.P. Tully

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