(NOTO MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2014 Bob Hackett
Revision 4

2 October 1933:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosen K. K. as Yard No. 580, a 7,185-ton cargo ship for Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), Tokyo.

1 May 1934:
Launched and named NOTO MARU.

15 October 1934:
Completed and registered at Tokyo.

NOTO MARU serves on NYK’s Japan ~ Philippines route, mainly transporting sugar from the Philippines to Japan.

27 August 1938:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport in support of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Alloted Army No. 686.

11 January 1939:
Demilitarized and released back to her owners. Placed on NYK’s Yokohama ~ Europe routes with ports of call at Singapore, British Malaya, Saigon, French Indochina and Rotterdam, the Netherlands and on NYK’s Yokohama ~ North America service with ports of call including New York. Her cargoes include silk exports and imports of cotton and strategic goods such as potash, steel and oil-based lubricants.

21 December 1941:
Requisitioned again by the IJA and reconverted to a troop transport.

19 July 1942:
At 1900, NOTO MARU arrives at Takao escorted by minelayer TAKASHIMA.

29 September 1942:
At 2300, NOTO MARU departs Singapore for Rabaul, New Britain in a convoy also consisting of transports NAGARA, SAGAMI and KINUGAWA MARUs escorted by destroyer MATSUKAZE and two unidentified warships. NAGARA MARU is carrying 600 British (mostly the Royal Artillery "Gunners 600") prisoners-of-war (POWs).

4 October 1942:
Arrives at Belawan, Sumatra. The convoy carries the IJA 38th "Sendai" Division’s Mountain Artillery Regiment (less 2 battalions), Engineer Regiment (less 2 companies), the main force of the division Signals Unit and part of the 38th Transport Regiment plus horses and supplies.

October 1942:
Arrives at Surabaya, Java and departs.

19 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul, New Britain.

31 October 1942:
Off Rabaul. LtCdr Edward C. Stephan‘s (USNA ‘29) USS GRAYBACK (SS-208) (later lost) fires three torpedoes and gets one hit that damages NOTO MARU at 04-37S, 152-30E.

1 November 1942:
NOTO MARU is towed into Rabaul by destroyer AKIKAZE.

1942 - early 1943:
Rabaul. Necessary repairs are delayed because the IJA fails to secure cooperation from the Imperial Navy. Eventually, NOTO MARU undergoes temporary repairs, probably by IJN repair ship YAMABIKO MARU.

April 1943:
Arrives at Yokohama and undergoes lengthy permanent repairs and trials at an unknown shipyard. During the repair work, the decomposed bodies of two soldiers, KIA six months earlier by the torpedo, are found when sea water is drained from the wrecked compartments.

21 December 1943:
NOTO MARU departs Moji in convoy HI-27 also consisting of transports KUNIKAWA, MIIKE and SUKUSHI MARUs, IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU and oilers IJN KYUEI and OTORISAN MARUs escorted by destroyer ASAKAZE. NOTO MARU carries the 72nd Field AA Battalion, 14th Shipping Eng Regiment and she and the convoy also carry the 1st echelon of the 53rd Division consisting of Div Hq, 53rd Div, 128th Infantry Regiment and div troops (including comms, transportation, veterinary, supply, maintenance etc.), 234th Naval Construction Unit, 43rd Independent Field AAA Company, 46th Field Ops Machine Cannon Company, 47th Field Ops Machine Cannon Company and 12th Independent Searchlight Company.

24 December 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa.

1 January 1944:
At 1200, NOTO MARU departs Manila in Convoy “Q” also consisting of MIIKE MARU and landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU escorted by torpedo boat MANAZURU.

3 January 1944:
At 0300, arrives at Takao. Later that day, NOTO MARU departs Takao in convoy HI-26 that arrived from Singapore now consisting of AMATSU, ARIMASAN, MIIKE, OMINESAN, OTOWASAN, SHINSHU, TAKASAKI and TOZAN MARUs, IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU and possibly some unidentified merchants escorted by light training cruiser KASHII.

7 January 1944:
At 1830 arrives at Moji.

20 January 1944:
At 1200, NOTO MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-37 also consisting of transport MIIKE MARUs, tankers AMATSU, OMINESAN and OTOWASAN MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ships KIBITSU and MAYASAN MARUs and an unidentified ship escorted by kaibokan MIYAKE and KANJU.The convoy carries elements of the 53rd Division's 3rd Echelon: Division headquarters (main); Hq, 119th Infantry; 3rd Battalion, 119th Infantry; 53rd Engineer Regiment and 53rd Signal Regiment and troops of unknown units.

25 January 1944:
Arrives at Manila. KIBITSU and MAYASAN MARUs are detached.

29 January 1944:
At 1200, arrives at Singapore.

26 February 1944:
At 0900, NOTO MARU departs Kirun in convoy HI-42 also consisting of transport ASAMA and MIIKE MARUs and tankers SEISHIN and NAMPO MARUs escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA and SHIMUSHU. Later, SHIMUSHU is detached and returns to Takao.

28 March 1944:
At NOTO MARU departs Darien, Manchuria inconvoy Higashi Masu ("East Pine") No. 5 also consisting of ASOSAN and TOSAN MARUs. The convoy carries the IJA 14th Division (temporarily less most of one infantry battalion).

30 March 1944:
Arrives at Pusan. MIIKE MARU joins the convoy off the SE coast of Korea carrying about 4,000 men of the 35th Div Hq and 219th Infantry Regiment and eight 75mm cannons of 2nd Battalion, 4th Independent Mountain Artillery Regiment and its 5th and 6th Companies.

3 April 1944:
Arrives at Yokohama.

6 April 1944:
Departs Yokosuka. Later that day, arrives at Tateyama to refuel.

7 April 1944:
At 0330, NOTO MARU departs Tateyama, Tokyo Bay in convoy Higashi-Matsu No. 5 (outbound) also consisting of transports ASOSAN, TOSAN, MIIKE and NOTORO MARUs and tanker SEIYO MARU escorted by destroyer SATSUKI and kaibokan KASADO, MANJU and CD-4. The convoy carries about 16,000 men. NOTO MARU carries about 4,000 men, mainly of the IJA 2nd Infantry Regiment, 14th Division. The shps are so densely packed that about half the men stay on deck.

10 April 1944:
Arrives at Futami, Chichijima. The convoy is delayed at Chichijima so that mines laid at Palau can be swept,

18 April 1944:
Departs Futami.

24 April 1944:
Arrives at Palau. The convoy has trouble unloading because of the wreckage inflicted during Admiral Raymond A. Spruance’s (USNA ’06) TG-58.1's carrier aircraft attacks on the anchorage that sank or damaged 36 Japanese vessels (Operation “Desecrate One”, 30-31 Mar '44).

30 April 1944:
Departs Palau.

26 April 1944:
At 1640, NOTO MARU departs Palau for Tokyo in convoy HIGASHI MATSU No. 5 also consisting of ASOSAN, TOSAN, MIIKE MARUs escorted by destroyer SATSUKI and kaibokan MANJU, KASADO and CD-4.

27 April 1944:
At about 0100, LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Frederick J. Harlfinger's (USNA ’37) USS TRIGGER (SS-237) torpedoes and hits and damages ASOSAN and MIIKE MARUs. At 0430, as ASOSAN MARU is being abandoned, Harlfinger torpedoes and blows the bow off kaibokan KASADO. Fuel flowing from MIIKE MARU catches fire and sets the ship abaze. MANJU is able to rescue some survivors, but MIIKE MARU drifts away and probably sinks the next day.

MIIKE MARU was carrying 752 IJA troops and other passengers and 26 funerary urns. Two crewmen, seven gunners and nine passengers are KIA. KASADO and ASOSAN, TOSAN and NOTO MARUs reverse course back to Palau.

29 April 1944:
NOTO MARU departs Palau for Tokyo in a convoy also consisting of TOSAN MARU escorted by destroyer SATSUKI and kaibokan CD-4.

3 May 1944:
W of Ogasawara Gunto (Bonin Islands). LtCdr William P. Gruner's (USNA ’35) USS SKATE (SS-305) fires four torpedoes at the convoy, but they all miss. CD-4 and SATSUKI counter-attack, but SKATE escapes damage.

4 May 1944:
Arrives at Tokyo.

14 May 1944:
At 0430, in bad weather, NOTO MARU departs Tateyama in convoy Higashi Matsu No. 8 also consisting of MANJU MARU (ex-SANTOS MARU) and army transport TOSAN MARUs escorted by destroyer SATSUKI, kaibokan AMAKUSA, CD-4 and CD-6. The convoy is carrying elements of the IJA's 43rd Infantry Division including the 135th and 136th Infantry Regiments. NOTO MARU carries men and horses.

19 May 1944:
Arives at Saipan at 1030. Disembarks troops and horses.

20 May 1944:
At 1800, NOTO MARU departs Saipan in convoy Higashi Matsu No. 8 (return) consisting of MANJU and TOSAN MARUs escorted by kaibokan NOMI and OKI and subchaser CH-30.

26 May 1944:
Arrives at Tokyo.

23 June 1944:
NOTO MARU departs Yokosuka for Chichi-jima carrying elements of the IJA's 145th Infantry Regiment, 46th Division, 8th-12th Independent Rapid Fire Gun Battalions and the 3rd Medium Mortar Battalion and others.

E24 June 1944:
Arrives at Chichi Jima. Disembarks troops and equipment and departs.

26 June 1944:
Arrives at Yokosuka. 85 men of the 21st Specially Established Machine Cannon Unit and others embark aboard NOTO MARU.

27 June 1944:
The Yokosuka Naval Stores Department issues the 21st Specially Established Machine Cannon Unit three Type 96 25mm twin mount automatic cannons, model 1 mark 3, six type 96 25mm single mount automatic cannons, model 3, 3,000 rounds of high explosive tracer shells and 9,000 rounds of cannon shells.

28 June 1944:
NOTO MARU departs Yokosuka for Chichi-jma carrying the 21st Specially Established Machine Cannon Unit.

29 June 1944:
Arrives at Chichi Jima. Disembarks troops and equipment.

1 July 1944:
NOTO MARU embarks 1,750 civilian evacuees (1,263 from the village of Omura on Chichi Jima, 483 from Futami port, Chichi Jima and four from Iwo Jima) as part of a program to get civilians off the islands.

4 July 1944:
Arrives at Yokohama and disembarks passengers.

10 August 1944:
NOTO MARU departs Imari Bay (Moji) for Singapore in convoy HI-71 also consisting of transports AWA, HOKKAI, TEIA (ex-Vichy French ARAMIS), NOSHIRO, IJA landing craft depot ships TAMATSU and MAYASAN MARUs, cargo ships KASHII, NISSHO and ORYOKU MARU, oilers AZUSA, TEIYO, EIYO, ZUIHO, AMATSU, KYOKUTO and NIYO MARUs, HAKKO MARU No. 2, fleet oiler HAYASUI and food-supply ship IRAKO.NOTO MARU carries 2,400 troops of unknown units..

The convoy's screen is provided by 6th Escort Convoy under convoy commander Rear Admiral (Vice Admiral, posthumously) Kajioka Sadamichi (former CO of KISO) with destroyers FUJINAMI and YUNAGI, kaibokan HIRATO, KURAHASHI, MIKURA, SHONAN and CD-11 and escort carrier TAIYO. Her 631st Naval Air Group provides air cover with 12 BN5 “Kates”.

15 August 1944:
Departs Manila. Later that day, HI-71 arrives at Mako, Pescadores. NIYO, HAKKO and ORYOKU MARUs and IRAKO are detached.

17 August 1944: Operation "SHO-1-GO" (Victory) - The Defense of the Philippines:
At 0800, in typhoon weather, HI-71 sorties from Mako for Manila. To strengthen HI-71's escort forces, old destroyer ASAKAZE and kaibokan SADO, MATSUWA and HIBURI arrive from Takao and kaibokan ETOROFU arrives from Saei (Tsoying), on orders of 1st Surface Escort Division.

18 August 1944:
At 0524, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Louis D. McGregor's USS REDFISH (USNA ’30) (SS-395) torpedoes and damages EIYO MARU. She is detached and escorted back to Takao by ASAKAZE and YUNAGI.

Off Cape Bolinao, Luzon. At 2210, LtCdr (later Captain) Henry G. Munson's (USNA ’32) USS RASHER (SS-269), in a surface radar attack, torpedoes and sinks oiler TEIYO MARU. 41 crewmen and 58 passengers are KIA.

At 2222, Munson torpedoes and sinks carrier TAIYO at the rear of the convoy. Because of the fire and speed of sinking, most of her crew are lost and about 790 passengers perish; but Captain Sugino Shuichi (46) and just over 400 crew and passengers survive.

At 2310, RASHER, still on the surface, fires three torpedoes using radar bearings and hits and sink transport TEIA MARU carrying 4,795 Army and 427 civilians. 2,316 troops, 275 passengers, six guards, four gunners, 10 special lookouts, and 54 crewmen are KIA.

19 August 1944:
The convoy splits into two groups. Just past midnight, RASHER, still running on the surface, closes on an eastbound group of three large ships and one escort. At 0033, LtCdr Munson puts two radar-directed torpedoes into the port sides of AWA and NOSHIRO MARUs. Their captains beach both ships near Port Currimao.

LtCdr (later Cdr) Charles M. Henderson's (USNA ’34) USS BLUEFISH (SS-222) and LtCdr (later Captain) Gordon W. Underwood's (USNA ’32) USS SPADEFISH (SS-411) join in the attack on HI-71. At 0320, BLUEFISH hits and sinks HAYASUI. Captain Sugiura Keizaburo (49) is KIA. He is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously. The number of survivors is unknown.

SPADEFISH hits TAMATSU MARU with two torpedoes and the big landing craft depot ship rolls over and takes down 4,755 troops and 135 crewmen. HI-71 makes for San Fernando.

21 August 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

25 August 1944:
Manila. Five companies of the “Bataan Death March” survivors totaling 1,035 prisoners-of-war (POWs) board NOTO MARU.

27 August 1944:
At 0900, NOTO MARU departs Manila for Moji in convoy MAMO-02 also consisting of KASHII and NISSHO MARUs, IJA landing craft depot ship MAYASAN MARU escorted by kaikoban ETOROFU, SHIMUSHU, SHONAN, CD-7 and CD-28, patrol boat and PB-102 (ex-USS STEWART, DD-224) and subchaser CH-41. At 1548, anchors in Subic Bay.

28 August 1944:
At 0600, departs Subic Bay.

29 August 1944:
The convoy is attacked by an unidentified American submarine that fires at least two deep-runing torpedoes at NOTO MARU that pass below the zigzagging ship..

30 August 1944:
Arrives at Takao. Destroyers WAKABA and HATSUSHIMO join the escort. Patrol boat PB-102, kaibokan CD-7 and CD-28 and subchaser CH-41, are detached.

31 August 1944:
Departs Takao.

E 1 September 1944:
Arrives at Keelung, Formosa. ORYOKU MARU joins the convoy. Departs for Moji.

4 September 1944:
At 0500, arrives at Moji.

12 October 1944:
At 0700, NOTO MARU departs Woosung, E of Shanghai, for Manila in convoy MOMA-04 also consisting of transports KINKA and KASHII MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ship TAKATSU (KOZU) MARU escorted by Rear Admiral Matsuyama Mitsuharu’s (40)(former CO of KITAKAMI) 7th Convoy Escort Group’s kaibokan SHIMUSHU (F), OKINAWA, CD-11 and CD-13.

The convoy is carrying the IJA’s 1st Division's main body of about 10,000 men and equipment. The convoy anchors at Ssu Chiao Shan later that day.

At Shanghai, the four transports had loaded more than 12,000 men of the 1st Army Division. NOTO MARU carries the 57th Regiment. Additionally, NOTO and KOZU MARUs each carry one company of the 12th Sea Raiding Squadron. NOTO MARU also carries as passengers) the 65th Specially Established Machine Cannon Unit (Type 96 25mm).

19 October 1944:
The four ships arrive at the Ssu-Chiao Island Anchorage and unite with ASAMA MARU, carrying 5,000 troops, escorted by kaibokan OKINAWA. The convoy remains at Ssu-Chiao Island Anchorage awaiting conditions to improve.

20 October 1944:
At 0230, convoy MOMA-04 departs the Shushan Islands. The convoy initially proceeds southward along the China coast.

22 October 1944:
In the morning passes off Takao. On its way toward the dangerous Bashi Channel the convoy receives air cover by 10 planes. At 1900, anchors at Sabtang Channel, Batan Islands.

23 October 1944:
Departs Sabtang Strait and later that day arrives at Cabugao Bay.

24 October 1944:
Departs Cabugao Bay and later that day arrives at Lapoc Bay.

25 October 1944:
Departs Lapoc Bay, and later that day arrives at Lingayen Bay, Philippines.

26 October 1944:
At 2315, the convoy arrives at Manila.

31 October 1944: Operation “TA No. 2”:
NOTO MARU departs Manila with transports KASHII and KINKA MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ship TAKATSU MARU escorted by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kimura Masatomi's (41)(former CO of SUZUYA) kaibokan SHIMUSHU (F), OKINAWA, CD-11 and CD-13. A distant Guard Force consists of destroyers AKEBONO, HATSUHARU, HATSUSHIMO, KASUMI, OKINAMI and USHIO.

NOTO MARU is carrying elements of the 57th Infantry Regiment, artillery and engineer regiments, field hospital and signal units and staff and the 66th Specially Established Machine Cannon Unit with its twelve Type 96 25mm guns - a total of 3,100 men, 106 horses, 40 trucks and 1,500 tons of weapons, ammunition and provisions. She also carries 150 men and 14 landing craft of the 21st Shipment Engineer Regiment.

1 November 1944:
In the evening, the convoy arrives at Ormoc. NOTO MARU anchors about 100 yards from shore. She uses 150 shipping engineers from the 21st Shipping Engineer Regiment and fourteen Daihatsus to put ashore 3,000 men, forty vehicles from the 1st Division, and five light tanks from the 2nd Tank Division (renumbered as an independent tank company). At Ormoc, she carries an unusually heavy suite of sixteen 25mm machine cannons (Type 96 25mm), twelve of which belonged to the 66th Auxiliary Machine Cannon Unit employed to augment the ship’s normal gunners.

2 November 1944:
Early in the morning, the convoy is attacked by P-38s. During the attack, all kaibokan stream kites loaded with explosives as an AA measure, the first time this weapon is used in action.

In the early afternoon, the convoy is attacked by two dozen Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers. Most of the transports lay under a smoke screen laid by the escorts, but NOTO MARU, 90 percent unloaded, is in the clear. The B-24s land a 500-lb bomb close alongside. NOTO MARU floods and sinks within a half-hour. Three crewmen, one gunner, one shipyard worker, 30 troops and 50 other passengers are KIA.

Author's Note:
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and to John Whitman of Virginia for troop info in the revisions.

-Bob Hackett

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