KAIBOKAN!

(Ukuru Class Escort Daito in 1944 - colorized by Irootoko, Jr)

IJN Escort Okinawa:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2006-2016 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall
Revision 6


10 December 1943:
Tsurumi, Kanagawa Prefecture. Laid down at Nihon Kokan K. K.’s shipyard as kaibokan No. 335.

15 March 1944:
No. 335 is named OKINAWA and temporarily attached to the Maizuru Naval District.

10 May 1944:
Reserve LtCdr (later Cdr, posthumously) Arima Kunio is appointed Chief Equipping Officer.

1 June 1944:
Lt Hijioka Kachiyuki is appointed an Equipping Officer.

5 June 1944:
Equipping Officer Lt Hijioka is promoted LtCdr.

7 June 1944:
LtCdr Arima is posted Chief Equipping Officer of T-2. That same day, Reserve Lt Motohashi Takeo is appointed an Equipping Officer.

19 June 1944:
Launched.

31 July 1944:
Reserve Lt Sakamoto Osamu (former navigating officer of KAMIKAZE MARU) is appointed Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

3 August 1944:
Reserve Lt (j.g.) Wakita Mami is posted an Equipping Officer.

16 August 1944:
Completed and registered in the Maizuru Naval District. Attached to the Kure Guard Unit and later based at Saeki. Reserve Lt Sakamoto is the Commanding Officer. LtCdr Hijioka is posted Chief Engineer. Reserve Lt Motohashi is posted Chief Navigator. Reserve Lt (j.g.) Wakita is posted Chief Mine Officer. Reserve Lt (j.g.) Yamaguchi Oyu is posted Chief Gunnery Officer. The same day arrives at Yokosuka where OKINAWA is provisioned and ammunitioned.

20 August 1944:
OKINAWA receives her portrait of Emperor Hirohito (Showa).

26 August 1944:
Arrives at Saeki.

27 August – 26 September 1944:
OKINAWA undergoes anti-submarine training.

30 September 1944:
Harima Sea. OKINAWA conducts enemy submarine detection training using training submarine RO-500 as a target vessel.

3 October 1944:
Reassigned to the General Escort Command’s First Surface Escort Division.

5 October 1944:
OKINAWA departs Kure with ASAMA MARU that is carrying 5000 army and navy troops including 184 men of the 9th Shinyo Unit (Nakajima Unit) and 55 maru-yon motor boats. (NB: the 184 men of the 9th Shinyo Unit consist of 7 officers and warrant officers, 49 pilots for the boats, 21 HQ personnel, 32 maintenance personnel and 75 base personnel.)

6 October 1944:
At 0800, OKINAWA and ASAMA MARU arrive at Moji.

8 October 1944:
OKINAWA departs Mutsure-jima Anchorage for Shanghai with torpedo boat SAGI in convoy MO-702 escorting ASAMA MARU.

10 October 1944:
At 0500, arrives at Ssu Chiao Shan (Raffles Island), SE of Shanghai.

12 October 1944:
At 0700, Rear Admiral Matsuyama Mitsuharu’s (40) (former CO of KITAKAMI) 7th Convoy Escort Group departs Woosung for Manila with kaibokan SHIMUSHU (F), CD-11 and CD-13 escorting convoy MOMA-04 consisting of transports NOTO, KINKA and KASHII MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ship KOZU MARU carrying the IJA’s 1st Division's main body of about 10,000 men plus equipment.

This same day, Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher's Task Force 38´s carriers LEXINGTON (CV-16), ESSEX (CV-9) and LANGLEY (CVL-27) attack Japanese shipping, airfields and industrial plants on Formosa (Taiwan), regarded as the strongest and best-developed base south of the homeland proper, and on northern Luzon. After news of this attack, the convoy is ordered to stay in readiness at Ssu Chiao Shan.

16 October 1944:
In the early morning, OKINAWA, SAGI and ASAMA MARU depart Ssu Chiao Shan. At 1100, the ships arrive at Woosung where they are replenished.

19 October 1944:
OKINAWA, SAGI and ASAMA MARU depart Woosung for Ssu Chiao Shan Anchorage where OKINAWA and ASAMA MARU are to join convoy MOMA-04

20 October 1944:
At 0230, convoy MOMA-04 consisting of KINKA, KASHII, NOTO, KOZU and ASAMA MARUs and escorted by kaibokan SHIMUSHU (F), OKINAWA CD-11 and CD-13 depart the Ssu Chiao Shan Anchorage. The convoy proceeds southward along the continental coastline.

22 October 1944:
In the morning the convoy passes off Takao. From here the ships receive air cover from about 10 patrol planes while crossing the dangerous Bashi Channel. At 1900 arrives at Sabtang Island Channel, Batan Islands. Upon arrival CD-13 runs aground in Sabtang Channel. The ship's submarine log is damaged to some extend, but her hull remains unscathed.

23 October 1944:
At 0300, departs Sabtang. Near Lapog Bay, W coast of Luzon, Cdr James Alvin Adkins´s surfaced USS COD (SS-224) is discovered while she is stalking the convoy. The convoy reverses course and at 1820 arrives at Cabugao Bay.

24 October 1944:
At 0700, departs Cabugao Bay. Enroute the convoy receives an emergency air-raid warning for Manila area and once again reverses course. At 1730, arrives at Lapog Bay.

25 October 1944:
At 0330, departs Lapog Bay. Shortly afterwards the convoy is attacked by USS COD which in a night surfaced radar attack fires four torpedoes against a 17,000 tons troop transport (ASAMA MARU) at 17-34N, 120-02E. The torpedo tracks are discovered in time and ASAMA MARU escapes unhurt. The escorts open fire but without result. At 2351, the convoy arrives in Lingayen Gulf.

26 October 1944:
At 0600 departs Lingayen Gulf. At 2315, the convoy arrives at Manila.

29 October 1944:
103rd Naval Working Department (kaigun kosakubu), Cavite Navy Yard, Manila Bay. OKINAWA and kaibokan CD-11 receive additional machine gun mounts to strengthen AA capability. OKINAWA´s armament is increased by the installation of five single 25mm and two triple 25mm machine gun mounts. While work is in progress, both kaibokan are attacked and strafed by Grumman F6F “Hellcat” fighters. CD-11´s machinist´s mate 2nd class Sakai Yukinari is hit and KIA. OKINAWA remains unscathed.

31 October 1944: Transport Operation “TA No. 2”:
At 0740, with thick rain clouds hanging over Manila Bay, OKINAWA departs Manila with kaibokan SHIMUSHU (F) with convoy commander Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Matsuyama Mitsuji embarked, CD-11 and CD-13 escorting transports KINKA, KASHII and NOTO MARUs and IJA landing craft depot ship KOZU (TAKATSU) MARU. The ships form the 3rd echelon of TA No.2's three echelons. The transports are carrying about 11,000 men of the 1st Army Division and Colonel Imahori Isaku's Imahori Detachment, a vanguard unit of the 26th Army Division. Indirect protection is provided by DesRon 1's destroyers KASUMI, USHIO, AKEBONO, OKINAMI, HATSUHARU and HATSUSHIMO. The convoy receives direct air cover by ten IJN Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters from Manila and later by six IJA Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” fighters from Negros. At the entrance to Manila Bay the convoy passes patrolling kaibokan CD-22 and then speeds southward at 15 knots.

1 November 1944:
Reserve Lt Sakamoto Osamu promoted LtCdr. From 1730 to 1820, about 10 P-38s attack the convoy near Ormoc. The enemy planes are immediately engaged by own fighters which are all lost. Kaibokan SHIMUSHU is strafed, one crew is KIA and 16 are wounded. At 1830, convoy safely arrives at Ormoc. The most western ship in the row is NOTO MARU followed by KOZU, KASHII and KINKA MARUs. Unloading starts at 1900. Unfortunately, ebb tide prevents the ships from using the pier. The kaibokan and destroyers prepare for night battle. Early in the next morning, most of the embarked troops are safely on shore and unloading of war supplies and equipment starts.

2 November 1944:
At 0645, the convoy is attacked by 6 Lockheed P-38 "Lightning" fighter-bombers which are finally repulsed by AA-fire from the ships and then are engaged by IJA Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” fighters. During this time, leading seaman Shimizu Kiichi (Yoshikazu), manning a single machine gun on the OKINAWA, hits a P-38. The pilot is seen to parachute while his burning aircraft crashes into the sea. During the attack all kaibokan stream kites from their quarter ship loaded with explosives as an AA measure, the first time this weapon is used in action. The enemy planes do not get through to the transport ships which are now further accelerating unloading of war supplies and equipment. Until 1100, the convoy is the target for further P-38 attacks but sustains no damage.

At 1250, another air-raid alarm is sounded. By now the transports have succeeded in discharging about 90 percent of the loaded cargo. At about 1302, the escorts are attacked by about 24 B-24s which are protected by about 16 P-38s. At the entrance to Ormoc Bay the destroyers form a ring shape formation and while zig-zagging open fire against the enemy planes. The kaibokan circle around the transports also opening AA-fire. The escorts are heavily straddled by bombs but suffer no damage. The enemy planes then turn toward the anchored transport ships to attack them.

At 1315, NOTO MARU sustains a direct hit at her port quarter and numerous near misses. Additionally, the ship is heavily strafed and goes up in flames. Her rudder engine is inoperative and a fire breaks out inside No. 2 hold. Captain Fukuda Shunkichi orders all working troops and wounded personnel to abandon ship. At 1325, NOTO MARU´s stern is already submerged and seawater enters the engine room through the shaft tunnel. No. 3 hold is heavily flooding and the ship develops a list to starboard. At 1328, Captain Fukuda orders all hands to abandon ship. At 1350, 200 tons remaining ammunition in No. 2 hold ignites and blow up with a deafening roar sending heavy black smoke columns skyward. At about 1500, NOTO MARU sinks stern first to the bottom in 20 meters water depth, at 11-01N, 124-34E with about 300 cubic meters provisions (mostly rice bags at bottom of No. 5 hold), a quantity of ammunition (at bottom of No. 6 hold) and 32 army horses still loaded inside No. 3 hold. About 50 troops, 18 out of 112 gunners, 1 requisitioned worker and 3 out of 95 crew are KIA. On the other hand, the ship has succeeded in unloading about 3,000 troops (when leaving Manila NOTO MARU had 3,044 troops on board) and 90 percent of her cargo including 40 motor vehicles, 5 light tanks, 1 material truck, 12 Daihatsu landing barges, 700 cubic meters of war supplies and 74 army horses.

KINKA MARU unloads 97.5 percent of her cargo and KOZU MARU 100 percent of her cargo. During the battle kaibokan OKINAWA claims to have shot down two enemy aircraft. Destroyer USHIO is slightly damaged by a near miss but sustains no casualties. At 1730, CD-13 departs Ormoc sweeping ahead of the convoy. At 1900, the transports weigh anchor after having unloaded all troops, 36 field guns and 95 percent of the loaded war supplies.

4 November 1944:
The convoy arrives back in Manila Bay.

5 November 1944:
Manila Bay. Aircraft of Rear Admiral (later Admiral) Frederick T. Sherman's (USNA ’10) (former CO of USS LEXINGTON, CV-2) Task Group 38.3 [USS LEXINGTON (CV-16), USS ESSEX (CV-9) and USS LANGLEY (CVL-27) attack warships and auxiliaries in the bay. OKINAWA is slightly damaged.

8 November 1944: Operation "TA Go No. 4".
At 1030, KOZU, KASHII and KINKA MARUs, carrying 10,000 men of the 26th Infantry Division and 3,500 tons of munitions and provisions, depart Manila into typhoon seas escorted by Rear Admiral Matsuyama's kaibokan SHIMUSHU (F), OKINAWA, CD-11 and CD-13 and Admiral Kimura's destroyer screen of KASUMI (F), USHIO, AKISHIMO, ASASHIMO, NAGANAMI and WAKATSUKI. The ships form the 1st echelon of TA No. 4 transport operation's two echelons. The ships sail in single-column formation with CD-11 in the lead. Landing craft depot ship KOZU MARU´s inner boat deck is completely loaded with war supplies and she carries a deck load of six Daihatsu landing barges. All ships proceed under cover of the storm to Ormoc Bay, Luzon. Direct air cover is provided by about 25 IJN Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters from Manila and IJA Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate “Frank” fighters from Negros.

9 November 1944:
At 1659, near Ormoc Bay, four 13th Air Force North American B-25 “Mitchell” medium bombers followed by about 20 P-38 fighter-bombers attack the convoy at low altitude. This time there are no protecting aircraft to engage the enemy.

At 1715, KOZU MARU receives a direct bomb hit and goes up in flames, 20 are KIA and 50 wounded. All landing barges are heavily damaged or destroyed by the explosion and heavy strafing. Cargo unloading capability is reduced to 30 percent. At the same time, KASHII MARU suffers a near miss taking water in No. 4 hold and also causing some losses among the embarked troops. Nos.2, 3 and 4 cargo hoists are unusable reducing cargo lifting capability to 75 percent. Maximum speed is reduced to 14 knots.

KINKA MARU sustains several near misses causing considerable damage to her deck-stored Daihatsu landing barges, 9 men are KIA and 13 wounded. OKINAWA is slightly damaged by strafing and near misses, 6 crew are wounded. CD-11 is strafed, but suffers only slight damage. CD-13 is also strafed and suffers only slight damage, 2 crew are wounded.

At 1830, the convoy enters Ipil anchorage, south of Ormoc while the destroyers patrol the bay entrance. Normally, there are more than 50 Daihatsu landing barges at Ormoc Bay, but many have been blown onto the beach and half-buried in the sand by a typhoon the night before while several others have been destroyed by enemy planes earlier this day. Only about 10 Daihatsu are at hand for unloading.

All landing barges on board KOZU MARU and KINKA MARU are unusable, so the embarked troops are ordered to prepare for transfer to kaibokan SHIMUSHU, CD-11 and CD-13 which are to shuttle them between the transports and the beach. Most of the loaded cargo has to remain on board the transports and only some arms and ammunition can be landed. Just after midnight, an attack by American motor-torpedo boats consisting of PT-524, PT-525, PT-497 and PT-492 is fought off by the escorting destroyers. Several torpedoes explode on the beach, but there is no damage to the ships.

10 November 1944:
From 0435 to 0830, the embarked troops are transferred to kaibokan SHIMUSHU, CD-11 and CD-13. The kaibokan cautiously close the shore and go alongside the pier. During each turn one kaibokan carries about 1,000 soldiers. The soldiers have to stand close by close hereby completely encircling gun and machine gun mounts. Each of the three kaibokan makes two turns landing about a total of 6,000 soldiers in this way. The other soldiers are landed by Daihatsu landing barges and all kind of boats and cutters from the warships and transport ships. While landing troops the ships are attacked from 0630 onward for several times by P-38s and B-25s. No own aircraft are in sight.

At 1030, KOZU MARU and KASHII MARU weigh anchor and return to Manila at maximum speed. KINKA MARU is delayed a little and departs about 1100 escorted by SHIMUSHU, later joined by CD-13 and combat transports T-6, T-9 and T-10. (NB: The three combat transports form the second echelon of TA No.4 transport operation. They had landed about 1,000 men of the 49th and 57th Infantry Regiments (both belonging to 1st Army Division) at Ormoc. The three combat transports depart Ormoc this day at 1440 and later catch up with KINKA MARU, SHIMUSHU and CD-13.)

At 1125, south of Apali Point, Leyte, the convoy is fiercely attacked by 32 P-38s from Morotai and 30 B-25 skip-bombers from Leyte. OKINAWA is bracketed by near misses and strafed by B-25s. OKINAWA´s gunners shoot down one P-38 and hit one B-25 which is burning and closing CD-11. Seconds later the gunners from CD-11´s 12cm forward gun hit the burning and low-flying B-25 with a direct hit. The B-25 crashes directly abaft the stern of CD-11 sending skyward a black smoke column. CD-13 is slightly damaged by a near miss, one crew is KIA (Petty Officer 1st Class Iwasa Mamoru) and six are wounded. KASHII MARU sustains 5 direct bomb hits. Still loaded automobile gasoline catches fire causing a fierce fire at her forecastle while seawater floods No. 6 hold through a gaping hole. The flames expand and the ship stops.

At 1203, KASHII MARU blows up in a huge explosion and sinks at 10-53N, 124-25E. Three crew and 16 shipboard gunners are KIA. 159 crew and gunners are rescued by KASUMI and later transferred to combat transports T-6, T-9 and T-10. About the same time, KOZU MARU´s bridge blows apart when hit by 2 bombs. Subsequently, a skip-bomb hits starboard at the engine room causing a huge explosion. KOZU MARU breaks apart and sinks instantly taking down all 104 crewmen including Captain Nakajima Ichio and all 243 gunners.

At 1150, CD-11 is simultaneously attacked from two directions. While avoiding one attacker she is hit by the second one. CD-11 receives two direct hits with 500-lb bombs just abaft her bridge and down the stack. The second bomb explodes in the engine room causing total devastation. CD-11 is immobile, burning and finally drifts ashore in shallow water off Catiyoman Point, 10-53.2N, 124-25.8E, 89 crew are KIA. By 1315, CD-13 has picked up 59 survivors (among 41 wounded) from CD-11 including LtCdr Nagahashi Kimata.. As there is no hope to tow off the half-sunk vessel, CD-13 scuttles the wreck of CD-11 with gunfire at 1330.

By now, the convoy has split into four separate groups. USHIO and AKISHIMO proceed ahead followed by KINKA MARU, OKINAWA, SHIMUSHU and WAKATSUKI, while KASUMI, ASASHIMO and NAGANAMI follow the KINKA MARU group. The last group is the single sailing CD-13. At about 1400, north of Cebu, the ships are in combat with 10 or more P-38s fighter-bombers. SHIMUSHU is slightly damaged by strafing and near misses, one crewman is KIA (Chief Petty Officer Ito Toshio) and 12 are wounded. SHIMUSHU claims downing one plane.

At 1410, AKISHIMO receives a direct hit at her forecastle breaking off her forward part. Unnavigable, 20 crew are KIA and 35 wounded. USHIO engages in rescue work. At 1418, KINKA MARU sustains a direct bomb hit at the bow causing a small fire. No.6 hold suffers a near miss and ships some water causing loss of several horses. 11 are KIA and 14 wounded. At 2045, the remnants of convoy “TA No.4”, returning from Ormoc to Manila, meet convoy “TA No.3” and destroyers NAGANAMI, ASASHIMO and WAKATSUKI are detached from “TA No.4” and join “TA No.3”. KINKA MARU, T-6, T-9, T-10, KASUMI, OKINAWA, SHIMUSHU and CD-13 continue to Manila.

11 November 1944:
At 0500, destroyers HATSUHARU and TAKE join KINKA MARU, T-6, T-9, T-10, KASUMI, OKINAWA, SHIMUSHU and CD-13. At 0715, the ships arrive in the vicinity of CELEBES MARU that departed Manila at 0140 on 9 November as part of the TA No.3 transport operation, but off the Bondoc Peninsula, ran hard aground on an uncharted rock in the dangerous Subunguin Reef at 13-17N, 122-27E.

From 0735 to 0825, SHIMUSHU and CD-13 take off KASHII MARU's survivors from T-6, T-9 and T-10. The three combat transports and KINKA MARU then take off about 1,500 troops and some equipment from CELEBES MARU. At 0900, SHIMUSHU and CD-13 are detached and are ordered to guard CELEBES MARU.

At 1730, AKISHIMO and USHIO arrive at Manila. At 1830, KINKA MARU, T-6, T-9 and T-10 arrive back at Manila escorted by OKINAWA, KASUMI, HATSUHARU, and TAKE. At 2315, SHIMUSHU and CD-13 also arrive at Manila.

13 November 1944:
Aircraft from three carrier task groups (TG 38.1, TG 38.3, and TG 38.4) of TF 38 (Rear Admiral Frederick C. Sherman, in the temporary absence of Vice Admiral John S. McCain) pound Japanese shipping and port facilities at Manila and in central Luzon. At Manila Bay, the heavily damaged destroyer OKINAMI is taken in tow by OKINAWA and beached in shallow water 8 miles west of Manila. OKINAWA fires back at the attackers until her 25mm machine-gun barrels glow red. OKINAWA claims downing four Grumman fighters, one of them disintegrated by a direct hit from one of her 120 mm guns. Leading Fireman Murakami Tsusaichi is severely wounded and later dies in a hospital.

14 November 1944:
At 0200, OKINAWA departs Manila for Labuan, Brunei Bay with kaibokan SHIMUSHU and CD-13.

17 November 1944:
The three kaibokan arrive at Brunei Bay.

18 November 1944:
The three kaibokan move to Victoria Harbour, Labuan Island.

19 November 1944:
At 0145, three B-24 make a radar-controlled bombing attack against shipping off Labuan. OKINAWA sustains a near miss. Fuel from Nos. 7 and 9 fuel tanks is leaking into forward part of depth charge magazine, 64 rivets inside engine room are loosened causing oil leakage and an oil pressure pump is damaged. At 0558, damaged OKINAWA departs Labuan for Manila with kaibokan SHIMUSHU and CD-13 escorting convoy No. 4118 consisting of DOWA and GYOSAN MARUs.

20 November 1944:
At 1210, damaged OKINAWA is detached and proceeds independently toward Singapore.

23 November 1944:
OKINAWA arrives at Singapore.

26 November 1944:
Seletar Naval Harbour, Singapore. OKINAWA is dry-docked and undergoes battle-damage repairs by the 101st Naval Working Department (kaigun kosakubu).

2 December 1944:
OKINAWA leaves dry-dock.

10 December 1944:
OKINAWA is reassigned to 31st Escort Squadron together with 31 other kaibokan, old destroyer ASAGAO and minesweeper W-17.

11 December 1944:
Departs Singapore.

13 December 1944:
Arrives at Saigon. At 2134, about 180 nms SW of Cap St. Jacques, enroute to Camranh Bay, heavy cruiser MYOKO is hit at port quarter by one of six torpedoes fired by USS BERGALL(SS-320) at 08-08N, 105-40E. The torpedo sets off volatile reserve oil tanks aft shattering the afterdeck and parts of the stern are blown off abaft frame 302. Both inner propeller shafts are sheared off at the exit of the shaft tunnels. Her portside outer propeller shaft is bent from the exit of the shaft tunnel. MYOKO is temporarily unnavigable, but can make 6 knots with her remaining starboard outer propeller, but is unable to steer. 13 crew are KIA in BERGALL's attack.

MYOKO is taken in tow by USHIO. The destroyer lost use of her starboard engine in an air attack at Manila on 13 Nov '44. Though her damaged engines cannot hope to tow the full weight of the crippled cruiser, she can at least try to keep MYOKO's bow headed for St. Jacques. The cruiser's remaining propeller does the rest, painfully shoving her forward, mile by mile. From the 14th through the 15th, USHIO continues to struggle against the worsening seas, striving to keep the MYOKO from wobbling off course.

At 2150, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from MYOKO that reads: “At 2140 was hit by torpedo(es) in position 08-09N, 105-40 E.” Additional data say she was with Convoy HI-82 and could proceed back to Singapore at 6 knots.

14 December 1944:
OKINAWA departs Saigon for Cap St. Jacques. The same morning, she departs Cap St. Jacques escorting TAKEBE MARU (B-AK) (4,519 grt) which is ordered to assist damaged MYOKO. Auxiliary subchaser KAIKO MARU (233 grt) and two auxiliary minesweepers of the 21st Special Base Force accompany the two ships.

15 December 1944:
The rescue force arrives. TAKEBE MARU releases USHIO and passes a true tow line, and towing commences with MYOKO making now 5 knots toward St. Jacques. However, a storm makes MYOKO’s progress labored.

16 December 1944:
At 0815, the limping pair is south of St. Jacques. At 1000, USHIO is released from her guard duty. At 2103, USHIO arrives at St. Jacques where she is refuelled during the night. Next morning USHIO chases after convoy HI-82.

Meanwhile the towage continues its work, but the seas steadily worsen and the forecast is for truly severe weather. Therefore, before noon the order comes to reverse and tow MYOKO back to Singapore. Hopefully, the waters in that direction will be more agreeable. MYOKO hoves to and awaits the arrival of ships with engines for endurance towing. That help is soon forthcoming. At 1100, South-West Area Fleet orders DesRon 2 to prepare to send OYODO, KASUMI and HATSUSHIMO out to where the MYOKO lay.

At Singapore, Vice Admiral Hashimoto Shintaro hears the news of MYOKO with some distress. As she belongs to his CruDiv 5, he considers her his responsibility. Thereupon, he orders his flagship HAGURO out of dock. At 1430, Admiral Hashimoto boards her and reports that he will load supplies tomorrow and steam to MYOKO's rescue by the 18th. Since she is now in port, CHIBURI will follow in a few days, but Hashimoto requests two additional guard ships.

17 December 1944:
At 0510, MYOKO’s damaged stern is completely parted at frame 325 due to heavy waves. The cruiser remains afloat, but towing speed has to be cut to 2.5 knots. The situation is growing more precarious. In response to this and Admiral Hashimoto's request, KASUMI and HATSUSHIMO are ordered at 2300 to abandon their escorting of NICHEI MARU to St. Jacques and to go to MYOKO's assistance.

18 December 1944:
At 1500, KASUMI and HATSUSHIMO draw up beside the wallowing MYOKO. They find the cruiser still on an even keel, and except for her mangled stern, rolling easily. She appears in no danger of sinking. Temporarily interrupted by an air-raid alarm, KASUMI releases TAKEBE MARU and at 1733 finally starts towing MYOKO, guarded by HATSUSHIMO. The same day, Vice Admiral Hashimoto departs Singapore in his flagship HAGURO to tow MYOKO back to port, escorted by kaibokan CHIBURI.

19 December 1944:
At 0238, the tow line parts, snapping through the stormy skies to fall into the sea. KASUMI put about to attempt the difficult task of restoring the tow in the darkness, while HATSUSHIMO scurries to keep an even sharper watch for sign of enemy submarines. The severe weather conditions now likewise force outright abandoning of the towing attempt. The auxiliaries, two destroyers and the crippled cruiser now settle down to a nerve-wracking wait for improved seas. For four days they toss and wallow, unable to do anything but wait. At 1050 this day, they are joined by encouraging presence of the HAGURO and CHIBURI. But even HAGURO cannot get a tow line secured in the wild seas. The wait continues.

20 December 1944:
Early in the morning, kaibokan CD-19, CD-25, CD-35 and CD-207 depart Singapore to join as additional escorts for damaged MYOKO. At noon, the beleaguered squadron is at 05-15N, 104-45E north of Malaya when orders come that KASUMI is to immediately break off rescue operations of MYOKO and proceed as fast as possible to St. Jaques to become flagship of Admiral Kimura for a thrust against Mindoro. KASUMI actually departs at 1500. Patrol boat PB-102 and minelayer NIIZAKI, escorting convoy SASHI-38 with fast tankers RYOEI MARU and AMATO MARU (from TASA-18) are temporarily ordered to provide additional distant cover for the MYOKO rescue operation.

23 December 1944:
Major progress is made at 0900, when the weather moderates enough for HAGURO herself to take MYOKO in tow. With the heavy cruiser’s powerful engines bent to the task, the ordeal is near its end. The remaining miles are crossed smoothly.

24 December 1944:
At 1810, OKINAWA, CD-19, CD-25, CD-35 and CD-207 are ordered to finish escort duty for MYOKO and to proceed to Singapore. At 2230, all kaibokan arrive at Seletar Naval Harbor.

25 December 1944:
Reassigned to 31st Escort Division with kaibokan CD-63 and CD-207. At 0238, MYOKO, HAGURO and HATSUSHIMO are safely moored at Seletar Naval Harbor.

26 December 1944:
At 1158, OKINAWA departs Singapore for Moji with escort carrier KAIYO, kaibokan CD-207, CD-63, minelayer NIIZAKI and patrol boat PB-102 (ex-USS STEWART, DD-224) escorting convoy HI-84 consisting of transport AWA MARU, oilers TOA, MIRI and RYOEI MARUs and four unidentified ships.

29 December 1944:
At 1157, HI-84 arrives at Cape St. Jacques (near Saigon) and departs at 1625 the same day. CD-25 probably joins as an escort off or near St. Jacques.

30 December 1944:
South China Sea. HI-84 passes CarDiv 4's hybrid battleship/carriers ISE and HYUGA, cruisers OYODO and ASHIGARA, DesDiv 2's ASASHIMO and DesDiv 18's KASUMI that are enroute south from Camranh Bay. Later that day, HI-84 arrives at at Baie de Fan Vong (Van Phong Bay), Vichy French Indochina.

31 December 1944:
At 0745, HI-84 departs Baie de Fan Vong. Soon after departure, LtCdr Otis R. Cole's (USNA ’36) USS DACE (SS-247) fires three torpedoes at KAIYO, but gets no hits. There is no counterattack, as the convoy seems unaware of the attack. At 1804, HI-84 arrives at Baie de Qui Nhon (Qui Nonh Bay), Vichy French Indochina.

1 January 1945:
At 0057 departs Baie de Qui Nhon.

2 January 1945:
At 0105, arrives at Baie de Tourane (Da Nang Bay). At 0755, departs Baie de Tourane.

3 January 1945:
Before dawn, the convoy passes off south coast of Hainan. Just before noon, about 90 nms SW of Hong Kong, at 21-25N, 113-06E, a mine explodes 20 to 30 meters off MIRI MARUs port side engine room. Her engine room floods, but effective anti-damage control enables her to continue at low speed. She is left behind, but manages to reach Hong Kong.

5 January 1945:
At 1840, convoy HI-84 arrives off Nan-ao (Namoa) Island, NE of Swatow, Kwangtung Province, China and departs at 1937.

9 January 1945:
At 1120, arrives at Chusan Retto (Islands), SE of Shanghai.

10 January 1945:
At 0720 departs Chusan Retto.

13 January 1945:
At 1725, arrives at Moji.

14 January 1945:
At 1300, arrives at Kure. Undergoes repairs for the rest of the month.

4 February 1945:
At 0700, OKINAWA and KASADO depart Kure and sail to meet convoy HI-88A consisting of tanker SERIA MARU then escorted by destroyers KASHI and SUGI and kaibokan CD-41. 5 February 1945: At 1200, OKINAWA and KASADO join convoy HI-88A off the south-west coast of Korea. At 1630, temporarily anchors off Kingo Island (Kumo-Do), south of Reisui (Yosu), south coast of Korea.

6 February 1945:
At 0800, departs Kingo Island. At 1500, arrives at Katoku Channel (Kadok-Sudo), SE of Chinkai (Chinhae), south coast of Korea.

7 February 1945:
At 0500, departs Katoku Channel. Later in the day kaibokan ETOROFU joins the convoy from Sasebo. At 1630, the convoy arrives at Mutsure-jima Anchorage.

10 February 1945:
At 1200 OKINAWA departs Moji with kaibokan ETOROFU, KASADO and CD-39 escorting convoy MOTA-35 consisting of SORACHI MARU (4,107grt) and one unidentified merchant ship.

14 February 1945:
At 1400, arrives at Ssu Chiao Shan. ETOROFU and KASADO are detached.

16 February 1945:
At 1600, departs Ssu Chiao Shan.

19 February 1945:
At 0400, arrives at Kirun (Keelung).

23 February 1945:
At 0100, OKINAWA departs Kirun with kaibokan CD-39 escorting convoy TAMO-45 consisting of TEIKA MARU (ex-Vichy French CAP VARELLA), SORACHI MARU and one unidentified merchant ship. That evening anchors at Haitan Tao, Fukien Province, China.

24 February 1945:
At 0600, departs Haitan Tao.

26 February 1945:
At 0630 arrives at Ssu Chiao Shan and departs at 2300.

3 March 1945:
At 1800 arrives at Moji.

4 March 1945:
At 0720 OKINAWA departs Moji with kaibokan AGUNI and CD-39 escorting the “Kitsurin Maru Convoy” consisting of KITSURIN MARU.

6 March 1945:
At 1400 arrives at Ssu Chiao Shan and later that day KITSURIN MARU arrives at Shanghai. OKINAWA remains at Ssu Chiao Shan until 8 March.

8 March 1945:
At 1430, departs Ssu Chiao.

10 March 1945:
Joins convoy HI-94 consisting of tanker TOA MARU also escorted by kaibokan CD-63 and CD-207 and minelayer NIIZAKI.

12 March 1945:
CD-63 mistakes a sunken merchant ship for an enemy submarine and during the following attack scratches her bottom wrecking her sonar and causing multiple fuel leaks. CD-63 is detached for necessary repairs and arrives Moji on 15 March. At 1935, the convoy arrives at Seijitsu-To (Saengil-To), south coast of Korea.

13 March 1945:
At 0623, departs Seijitsu-To. At 0700, OKINAWA is detached from the convoy.

19 March 1945:
At 1300, arrives at Sasebo. Undergoes repairs.

4 April 1945:
OKINAWA departs Sasebo with orders to conduct anti-submarine sweeps in the East China Sea.

8 April 1945:
Arrives at Ssu Chiao Shan and stay in readiness until 11th April.

11 April 1945:
OKINAWA is informed that the lighthouse keeper from Tung-ting Tao Lighthouse at 29-52N, 122-35E observed a northward sailing surfaced enemy submarine at 345 degrees and 3 nms from the lighthouse. OKINAWA departs independently to investigate.

14 April 1945: Operation "AS-3" - Anti-submarine sweeps in Tsushima Strait and Yellow Sea:
Off Chusan Archipelago. Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) equipped Aichi E13A1 "Jake” and Kyushu Q1W1 "Lorna” patrol planes from the Chusan Detachment of the 951st NAG detect an Allied submarine and attack it with depth-charges. While en route to rescue the flying crew of an emergency landed aircraft, OKINAWA and kaibokan CD-8 and CD-32 are noticed about the sighting and dispatched to the area and conduct several attacks between 1530 and 1558. OKINAWA makes a sonar contact with the damaged submarine and chases it for the next two hours until the contact is lost. A widening oil slick is sighted. It is possible that Cdr J.F. Walling's (USNA ’35) USS SNOOK (SS-279) is lost in these attacks. [1]

Later this day, OKINWAWA is ordered to join as an additional escort for convoy MOSHI-03 consisting of KINSEN MARU (3,081 grt) on its final leg to Ssu Chiao Shan.

20 April 1945:
Lt Takei Takeo is posted Chief Engineer. LtCdr Hijioka is reassigned. In the early morning, OKINAWA and kaibokan DAITO, UKURU, CD-27 and CD-57 depart Ssu Chiao Shan to meet the refloated KOTOBUKI MARU (ex-Italian passenger liner CONTE VERDE), gunboat UJI and destroyer HASU off the Yangtze River estuary. Surrounded by these seven escort vessels KOTOBUKI MARU proceeds to Tsingtao. [2]

22 April 1945:
KOTOBUKI MARU and her escorts are attacked by ten Consolidated B-24 "Liberators”, but they score no hits. One bomber is damaged and later forced to ditch. The convoy arrives at Tsingtao, China the same day. OKINAWA and UKURU are despatched to take over other escort duties. KOTOBUKI MARU remains at Tsingtao until early May.

25 April 1945:
OKINAWA and kaibokan AGUNI, AMAMI, CD-22, CD-26, CD-63, CD-81 and CD-207 are reassigned to the 31st Coast Defence Force (kaibotai).

27 April 1945:
OKINAWA departs Tsingtao escorting convoy SE-01 consisting of KOHEI (HSING PING) MARU (3214 grt) and other unidentified ships.

9 May 1945:
OKINAWA departs Tsingtao with 150 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) marines to land them on Shihchiu sandspit, 35-23N, 119-34E, southern part of Shantung Province. Transporting troops by railroad is impossible as the track was blown up at several places by insurgent Chinese.

10 May 1945:
OKINAWA arrives off Shihchiu landspit and lands the embarked soldiers.

17 May 1945:
Arrives at Tsingtao. Due to lack of available heavy oil the ship has to load Nanking bean oil.

19 May 1945:
OKINAWA departs Tsingtao escorting an unknown convoy.

27 May 1945:
Korea Strait, off Tonai Kai (Port Hamilton). While conducting an anti-submarine sweep, OKINAWA and kaibokan AGUNI are attacked by two Consolidated PB4Y-2B "Privateers" piloted by Lt Leo E. Kennedy and LtCdr (later Rear Admiral, USNR-Ret) George L. Hicks of Patrol Bombing Squadron VPB-109 based at Yontan, Okinawa. Kennedy's PB4Y-2B launches a Mark-9, Mod 0, Special Weapon Ordnance Device (SWOD) radar-guided “Bat” glide bomb from a long distance. The bomb's 1,000-lb warhead explodes off AGUNI’s starboard bow demolishing the whole foredeck area ahead of the bridge. Using conventional bombs in the same attack, Kennedy also sinks 882-ton freighter DAITO MARU No. 2 and four smaller freighters and damages two small vessels. 14 crewmen (all hands) on DAITO MARU No.2 are KIA. Kaibokan CD-12 is dispatched to assist OKINAWA in rescuing AGUNI’s crew, but despite the heavy damage AGUNI remains navigable and proceeds stern first to Fusan, Korea on her own power.

31 May 1945:
OKINAWA joins convoy SE-07 off Anba-To (Anma-Do), 35-21N, 126-02E. Convoy SE-07 consisting of HENG YANG (KOYO) MARU (ex-HENG SHAN (KOZAN) MARU, ex-Chinese CHUNG HSING) (2748 grt), FUSAN and NIKKI MARUs and NANKI MARU No.2, BANSHU MARU No.62 and BANSHU MARU No.65 departed Tsingtao at 0800 29 May 1945, escorted by kaibokan CD-63 and CD-213.

1 June 1945:
Convoy arrives at Kai-To (Haui-Do), 34-36N, 126-02E, SW Korea. FUSAN MARU (loaded with coal and peanuts oil) is ordered to separate from the convoy and to proceed to Chinnampo (NW coast of Korea). HENG YANG (KOYO) MARU (loaded with salt, bound for Fushiki, Toyama Prefecture), NANKI MARU No.2 (loaded with rape oil and peanuts oil, bound for Osaka), BANSHU MARU No.62 (loaded with cotton yarn and hemp, bound for Shimonoseki), BANSHU MARU No.66 (loaded with cotton yarn and hemp, bound for Shimonoseki) and NIKKI MARU (loaded with blankets, clothes and other items, bound for Maizuru) continue eastward, escorted by OKINAWA, CD-63 and CD-213. Later, th convoy arrives off Chinkai where OKINAWA is detached. Thereafter OKINAWA patrols in Korea Strait.

June 1945: American Operation “Barney”:
Tsushima Strait, Japan. Cdr (later Captain) George E. Pierce’s (USNA ’32) USS TUNNY (SS-282) with LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Richard B. Lynch’s (USNA ’35) USS SKATE (SS-305) and LtCdr (later Cdr) Lawrence L. Edge’s (USNA ’35) USS BONEFISH (SS-223) are organized as the “Polecats” and equipped with FM Sonar gear to detect mines. Once the minefields are detected and charted, shipping in the Sea of Japan will be open to predation by American subs. The Polecats foray into the Sea of Japan for the next several weeks and sink several ships.

6 June 1945:
While patrolling off Chinkai at night, Petty Officer 1st class Okuda Yoshiro dies in an accident.

13 June 1945:
OKINAWA departs Fusan.

15 June 1945:
OKINAWA arrives at Maizuru. OKINAWA, CD-63 and CD-207 commence defensive anti-submarine sweeps in the Toyama Bay area.

19 June 1945:
Nanao Bay. At 0615, USS BONEFISH torpedoes KONZAN MARU at 37-13N, 137-18E (6 nm S of Aka-Saki Lighthouse, E coast of Noto Peninsula). At 0745, the ship sinks at 37-20N, 137-15E. One crewman is KIA. The 31st Coast Defence Force is alerted immediately and OKINAWA (F), CD-63, CD-207 arrive at the scene of sinking. OKINAWA makes sonar contact with a submerged submarine and drops a series of depth charges set to a depth of 295 to 390 feet. Next, CD-63 and CD-207 attack. CD-75 and CD-158 are also dispatched to the same location. After another attack, the sonar crew of OKINAWA fails to regain contact. USS BONEFISH is lost with all 85 hands. The following day, pieces of cork and oil are sighted at 37-18N, 137-55E. USS BONEFISH is lost with all 85 hands.

21 June 1945:
OKINAWA is informed that OKIJKASAN MARU has been torpedoed and sunk off Sado-Shima. OKINAWA speeds to the location and rescues about 50 army soldiers. NB: OJIKASAN MARU (6892 grt) was enroute from Niigata to Seishin (N Korea) when torpedoed and sunk by USS BONEFISH on 13 June 1945, at 38-30N, 136-57E (about 40 nm N of Hekura-Jima, Ishikawa Prefecture), 30 crew, 8 shipboard gunners and unknown number of army soldiers killed.

23 June 1945:
While patrolling at night, Warrant Officer Fujita Tsuyoshi, at that time acting as a lookout on the quarter deck discovers a surfaced enemy submarine about 2.5 nm astern. OKINAWA at once opens fire and the enemy sub crash-dives.

7 July 1945:
Arrives at Maizuru Naval Station and undergoes large-scale engine repair and maintenance.

30 July 1945:
About 50 aircraft of Vice Admiral (Admiral posthumously) John S. McCain’s (USNA ’06) Task Force 38's USS INDEPENDENCE (CVL-22) attack shipping in Maizuru Bay. OKINAWA is moored alongside the Maizuru Naval Station Dockyard Pier with her main engine partly removed for maintenance and repair. OKINAWA is heavily damaged on her port side quarter by a near miss which causes flooding of engine room, No.4 crew space and depth charge magazine. About 1430, she capsizes along the pier. Petty Officer 1st class Takahashi Yoshio is KIA and three wounded. [3]

15 September 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.

February to 30 September 1948:
Maizuru. Scrapped at Iino Kaiun K. K's Yard (former Maizuru Navy Yard).


Authors' Note:
[1] The cause of the loss of USS SNOOK, or even its sinking location, have never been officially determined.

[2] On 8 Sep ’43, after the surrender of Italy, CONTE VERDE was scuttled by her Italian crew in the Whangpoo River, Shanghai. From 1943-44, the Japanese carried out several salvage attempts. CONTE VERDE was intended for conversion to an escort aircraft carrier, but on 8 Aug ‘44, a B-24 bomber sank her in the Whangpoo River for a second time. In Dec ‘44, the hulk was refloated. She was later repaired enabling her to steam by own power. After hitting a mine enroute to Japan, she made it to Maizuru where she was bombed on 25 Jul ’45 and beached in Nakata Bay, N of Higashi, Maizuru. On 13 Jun ‘49, the wreck was refloated and began scrapping.

[3] Sources vary as to the date and place where KOTOBUKI MARU hit a mine.

[4] At an undetermined later date, OKINAWA is refloated.

Thanks go to Gilbert Casse of France and Matthew Jones of USA. Thanks also go to Erich Muethlthaler of Germany for major rewrites of the TROM in revisions 5 and 6.

-Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall


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