(NISSHO MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2015 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.
Revision 7

10 August 1937:
Yokohama. Laid down by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. as a 10,526-ton tanker for Showa Tanker K. K., Tokyo.

12 June 1938:
Launched and named NISSHO MARU. [1]

29 November 1938:

19 June 1939:
Departs Yokohama.

30 June 1939:
Arrives at San Francisco. Later, transports fuel oil from the United States west coast to Japan under charter to Taiyo Kaiun, K. K.

12 September 1940:
NISSHO MARU arrives at Batavia (Jakarta), Java (Indonesia) carrying the Japanese Minister of Commerce, Kobayashi Ichizo. At a conference at Java's Selabintanah resort, Kobayashi demands the Dutch East Indies provide Japan with 3,150,000 metric tons of petroleum annually and give a five-year guarantee of delivery. The Dutch Government representatives refuse saying it is a commercial, not governmental, matter.

26 July 1941:
The United States, Great Britain and the Dutch East Indies place an embargo on oil exports to Japan to counter Japanese aggression in Asia.

23 February 1942:
NISSHO MARU is requisitioned by the IJN and registered as an auxiliary transport (oil).

20 April 1942:
Yokohama. Begins conversion to Naval oil tanker at Mitsubishi.

2 July 1942:
The conversion is completed. Departs Yokohama.

13 August 1942:
Arrives at Tokuyama.

15 August 1942:
Departs Tokuyama.

29 August 1942:
At 0700 departs Truk apparently without escort.

3 September 1942:
Transits the Bungo Straits heading north.

7 September 1942:
Departs from an anchorage off Kitsuki.

25 September 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

1 October 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

4 October 1942:
Transits the Bungo Straits northbound in a convoy also consisting of tanker TOHO MARU. Later that day arrives at Kure.

12 October 1942:

17 October 1942:
Truk. Refuels cruiser AOBA.

18 October 1942:
Truk. Refuels oiler KENYO MARU.

24 October 1942:
Bungo Straits. LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Roy S. Benson’s (USNA ’29) USS TRIGGER (SS-237) spots NISSHO MARU riding high in the water in ballast. Benson sets up and fires a spread of four torpedoes and gets at least one hit near the target's stern. NISSHO MARU’s screws stop and she begins emitting heavy white smoke aft, but soon gets underway. Benson fires his last torpedo as NISSHO MARU moves off, but misses.

27 October 1942:
Arrives at Kure. Begins battle-damage repairs.

15 April 1943:
Repairs are completed. Departs Kure.

31 May 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

21 June 1943:
Departs Yokosuka.

23 June 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

27 June 1943:
Departs Kure.

18 July 1943:
Departs Singapore in a convoy with KENYO MARU.

19 July 1943:
Attached to the Kido Butai as a fleet tanker.

29 July 1943:
At 1200, arrives at Truk.

September 1943:
Captain Tonomura Senzaburo (40)(former CO of ERIMO) assumes command.

14 September 1943:
NISSHO MARU and tanker KUMAGAWA MARU depart Palau escorted by destroyer OITE.

18 September 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

1 November 1943:
At 1200, arrives at Truk via the south channel in a convoy consisting of tankers NISSHO and NICHIEI MARUs escorted by destroyer SHIMAKAZE. Enters Truk by the south channel.

2 November 1943:
NISSHO and NICHIEI MARUs depart Truk for Rabaul escorted by destroyer SHIMAKAZE.

4 November 1943:
130 miles W of Kavieng. NISSHO and NICHIEI MARUs are damaged by AirSols aircraft based at Guadalcanal.

At 0542, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message that reads: “NISSHO MARU received bombing attack. Fires broke out.”

At 0625, USN codebreakers decrypt another message that reads: “Two B-24’s attacked. NISSHO MARU suffered hit in upper section of engine room and is unable to navigate.”

At 0900, USN codebreakers decrypt another message that reads: “NISSHO MARU is unable to navigate. She is drifting and receiving bombing attack from enemy planes in position 00-21 N, 150-54 E.”

At 0920, USN codebreakers decrypt another message that reads: “NISSHO MARU received a second bombing attack. Fuel oil gushing out.”

At 1015, USN codebreakers decrypt another message that reads: “Attempted towing NISSHO MARU, but because of enemy air attack released towline and discontinued towing. Considering extent of damage and repeated enemy air attacks am taking crew aboard temporarily. NISSHO MARU has 9 dead and 14 wounded.”

CruDivs 4's CHOKAI and destroyer SUZUNAMI enroute from Truk for Rabaul arrive to assist the tankers. Destroyer AMATSUKAZE, on an aircrew transport run to Rabaul, is also diverted to assist the damaged tankers.

6 November 1943:
Arrives at Truk.

December 1943:
Receives fuel from tanker NICHIEI MARU.

10 January 1944:
Departs Truk for Surabaya escorted by destroyer TANIKAZE.

14 January 1944:
At 1200, at 08-56N, 134-30E, patrol boat PB-102 (ex-USS STEWART, DD-224) takes over as escort.

19 January 1944:
At 1200 arrives at Balikpapan.

22 January 1944:
Arrives at Surabaya, Java. Drydocked. Undergoes repairs by the IJN's No. 103 Repair Facility.

15 February 1944:
Undocked. Departs Surabaya escorted by patrol boat PB-104 and later arrives at Balikpapan. Takes on a cargo of oil.

21 February 1944:
At 1647, NISSHO MARU departs Balikpapan in a convoy consisting of fleet oilers KYOKUTO and KOKUYO MARUs escorted by destroyers SHIMAKAZE and IKAZUCHI.

25 February 1944:
75 miles S of Davao, Philippines. NISSHO MARU is in an unidentified convoy with fleet oiler KYOKUTO MARU. At about 0100, LtCdr (later Cdr) Victor B. McCrea's (USNA ’32) USS HOE (SS-258), acting on a code-breaker's ULTRA message, attacks the convoy. McCrea fires four torpedoes in a surface radar attack and gets two hits on KYOKUTO MARU at 05-55N, 126-05E that cause heavy damage.

At 0220, McCrea fires all ten bow and stern torpedoes in a surface radar attack. He gets five hits that sink NISSHO MARU at 05-50N, 126-00E. Captain Tonomura and 37 crewmen are KIA. Tonomura is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously.

31 March 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
[1] NISSHO MARU was also known as NISSYO MARU using the "kokutai" method of converting kanji names to English.

[2] Tanker SHINKOKU MARU also transits the straits that same day, but it is unclear if the ships were together.

[3]Thanks go John Whitman for input to Rev 1 and to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France.

- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

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