(A Type 1TM Standard Tanker underway)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2010-2013 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

Revision 2

December 1941:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi's Shipyard as Yard No. 887, a 5,236-ton Standard Merchant Tanker for Mitsubishi Shoji Sekiyu (Tokyo). She is the first ship of the emergency TM Type tankers. [1]

14 June 1942:
Launched and named PALEMBANG MARU. [2]

31 August 1942:
Completed and requisitioned by the IJA. Assigned call sign JGSR. Allotted number 979.

11 February 1943:
PALEMBANG MARU departs Ujina for Singapore in a convoy also consisting of tankers KAISOKU and KOSHIN MARUs and cargo ship NISHI MARU and an unknown escort.

18 March 1943:
At anchor at Palembang, Sumatra.

20 May 1943:
At 1100 departs Takao for Mako.

25 May 1943:
Arrives at Miri from Mutsure under command of Captain Kamata. Ordered to Singapore by IJA and departs Miri the same day in ballast independently and without escort.

26 May 1943:
Off the NW tip of Borneo. At 1517 (JST), about 7 miles SE of Poelau Meroendoeng Light in Api Passage, a mine explodes directly under PALEMBANG MARU's engine room at 02-02N, 109-13E. Although the explosion does open a hole in her hull, it loosens many rivets which cause her to ship water. The shock wave of the explosion has disastrous effects on her main engine and wrecks various donkey-engines. PALEMBANG MARU goes dead in the water and drifts. The mine posssibly was laid by LtCdr (later Vice Admiral/MOH) Lawson P. Ramage’s (USNA ’31) USS TROUT (SS-202) on 7 Apr 43.

27 May 1943:
Driven by current into shallow water near the coast, PALEMBANG MARU drops anchor in the morning and awaits rescue.

31 May 1943:
Tug NANKAI MARU arrives and takes PALEMBANG MARU in tow for Singapore.

3 June 1943:
PALEMBANG MARU arrives in tow at Singapore. Taken to Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. Shonan (Singapore) Zosensho (shipbuilding yard) at Keppel Harbor (civilian shipyard) and docked for inspection and repairs. A survey reveals serious damage to her machinery which requires new parts from Japan. The crew is transferred to Army lodgings ashore. Later, Captain Kamata receives orders to return to Japan. During the following months, more and more crew members are assigned to other duties. Many months later the required machinery parts arrive from Japan. Still, the repair work progresses slowly.

14 June 1943:
Mitsubishi Shoji Sekiyu is restyled Mitsubishi Kisen, K. K.

July 1944:
Engineer Murata arrives as the new Chief Engineer for PALEMBANG MARU. Murata proves to be energetic and under his leadership, the repair work makes considerable progress.

5 September 1944:
Captain Nakajima and 26 men from abandoned wartime standard 1TM tanker MARIFU MARU are assigned to PALEMBANG MARU with Nakajima as her new captain. Repair work now advances well and is finally completed by mid-November. [3]

21 November 1944:
Departs Singapore on completion of repairs. [4]

23 November 1944:
Arrives at Palembang.

30 November 1944:
Departs Palembang.

2 December 1944:
Arrives at Singapore.

12 December 1944:
At 1600, convoy HI-82 departs Singapore consisting of tankers PALEMBANG, OTOWASAN, OMUROSAN, ARITA and HASHIDATE MARUs escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU, KUME, SHONAN, CD-9 and CD-19.

17 December 1944:
Arrives at Camranh Bay.

19 December 1944:
Departs Camranh Bay.

22 December 1944:
At 0550, LtCdr (later Captain-Ret) George W. Grider's (USNA ’36) USS FLASHER (SS-249) torpedoes OTOWASAN (63 crewmen, 56 troops and one passenger KIA), OMUROSAN (Two crewmen KIA) and ARITA (57 crewmen KIA) MARUs. All three burst into flames and sink at 15-02N, 109-08E.

23 December 1944:
PALEMBANG and HASHIDATE MARUs escorted by CD-32 arrive at Yulin, Hainan Island.

24 December 1944:
At 0900, the surviving ships arrive at Takao.

E 25 December 1944:
PALEMBANG MARU departs Takao escorted by SHONAN, KUME, ETOROFU, CD-9 and CD-19. The ships steam north in shallow waters hugging the Chinese continental coast.

9 January 1945:
Arrives at Moji.

7 February 1945:
At 0600, PALEMBANG MARU departs Moji for Singapore in ballast in convoy HI-97 consisting of empty tanker RYOEI MARU escorted by kaibokan CD-1, CD-130 and CD-134.

15 February 1945:
At 2200, arrives at Qui Sande Bay, Indochina.

16 February 1945:
At 0700, departs at Qui Sande Bay.

20 February 1945:
Arrives at Singapore.

27 February 1945:
At 1500, PALEMBANG MARU departs Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-98 also consisting of tanker RYOEI MARU (Navy, Type 1TL) escorted by kaibokan CD-69 and CD-134.

3 March 1945:
At 0730 arrives at Cap St Jacques, Indochina. Kaibokan CD-1 and CD-130 join the escort. Departs at 0930.

4 March 1945:
Off Cap Varella, Indochina. At 0930, from radar depth, LtCdr Benjamin C. Jarvis' (USNA ’39) USS BAYA (SS-318) fires six torpedoes at PALEMBANG and RYOEI MARUs. Two torpedoes hit PALEMBANG MARU's starboard side engine room. A further two torpedoes explode amidships. PALEMBANG MARU explodes in a tremendous blaze and one minute the ship sinks at 12-52N, 103-30E. Nine passengers, 59 gunners and 67 crewmen are KIA. At the time of her sinking, PALEMBANG MARU was under civilian control.

Two more torpedoes hit RYOEI MARU, but the extent of the damage is obscured by fires from PALEMBANG MARU. CD-69 and CD-134 drop 47 depth-charges, but do not damage USS BAYA that goes deep. Later, she rejoins her wolf pack in the Camranh Bay area.

5 March 1945:
At 1110, LtCdr Richard E. Nichols’ (USNA ’35) USS BASHAW (SS-241) torpedoes and sinks RYOEI MARU at 16-46N, 108-41E. 19 crewmen, 19 gunners and nine passengers are KIA.

Author's Note:
[1] Not to be confused with wartime standard 1TM type tankers.

[2] Since at least the 1960's, Western sources have asserted that IJA PALEMBANG MARU was the former Clydebank, Scotland 1917-built WAR HELMET, later renamed ANATINA and finally MINDANAO. These sources claim MINDANAO was sunk by Japanese aircraft at Manila on 10 February 1942, raised later that year by the IJN and renamed PALEMBANG MARU. This misinformation exists to this day and even appears on Clydebank's website. While MINDANAO was sunk at Manila in 1942, she was not salved and did not become PALEMBANG MARU. Most probably the reason for the confusion was that two ships had identical tonnages which lead to false assumptions since at the time the extent and details of Japan's wartime shipbuilding were unknown.

[3] On 13 June 1944, MARIFU MARU (5135 grt) was torpedoed by USS FLIER (SS-250) at 15-57N x 119-42E,;therafter towed to Cavite Navy Yard, Manila Bay. On 18 July 1944, after further damage by a storm, MARIFU MARU was deemed a constructive total loss.

[4] PALEMBANG MARU is shown coming out of repairs at Singapore after almost 18 months. After her arrival at Singapore on 13 June 1943, there were no Allied intercepts of coded traffic until November 1944 that mentioned PALEMBANG MARU. An account from Mitsubishi Shoji talked about engine damage and cited her 26 May 1943 mining. Also contributing to the delay is that Singapore's facilities for major repair were far from adequate and the workload backlog staggering.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler for help with Revision 1 and to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France.

- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

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