(PANAMA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 Bob Hackett

28 May 1907:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi shipyard as a Yard No. 200, a 5,806 ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaiska (OSK) Line.

16 January 1910:
Launched and named PANAMA MARU.

30 April 1910:
Completed. Placed on OSK’s Hong Kong, BCC ~ Tacoma, Washington route.

September 1915 – 1917:
OSK charters PANAMA and SEATTLE MARUs to the Toyo Kisen Line (TKK) for its Japan ~ San Francisco route via Honolulu.

17 October 1913:
PANAMA MARU arrives at the outer wharfs of Victoria, BC, Canada.

Sold to Miyaji Co., Osaka.

24 May 1937:
Sold to the Kuribayashi Steamship Co., Ltd., Tokyo.

19 November 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA). Allotted Army No. 214.

21 December 1942: No. 6 Go Transportation Operation:
Convoy No. 35 assembles at Shanghai to transport the IJA’s 6th Infantry Division via Truk to Guadalcanal (after the decision is made to evacuate Guadalcanal, the convoy’s destination is changed to New Guinea). The convoy consists of troop convoy Parts A, B and C.

Part B departs Shanghai for New Guinea consisting of PANAMA, KENKON, KYOKUSEI and OIGAWA MARUs escorted by destroyer KURI.

5 January 1943:
Parts A and B arrive at Mako, Pescadores. The old China Area Fleet second-class destroyers are detached and replaced by the Southwest Area Fleet’s destroyers HOKAZE and NAGATSUKI tasked to escort the convoy to 136E longitude. The escort is further augmented by destroyer SHIRAYUKI, subchasers CH-2 and CH-11 and auxiliary gunboat CHOAN MARU No. 2.

17 January 1943:
Part B departs Truk for Buin, , Bougainville, Solomons.

21 January 1943:
At about 1800, LtCdr Robert J. Foley’s USS GATO (SS-212) attacks Part B of the convoy. GATO torpedoes and sinks KENKON MARU carrying a battalion of 734 men of the IJA 45th Infantry Regiment, 6th Division. The attack causes a fire and a magazine explosion. Seven crew, 36 troops and an unknown number of "passengers" are KIA. Destroyer SHIRAYUKI rescues survivors.

22 January 1943:
PANAMA MARU and the remaining ships of Part B arrive at Buin.

25 June 1943
Released back to her owners. Thereafter becomes an Army/civilian part-time charter (A/C) and assigned new Army No.5051.

8 August 1943:
PANAMA MARU departs Singapore in convoy No.611 also consisting of CELEBES, CHIHAYA, HEIWA and ZUIYO MARUs and one unidentified merchant ship without escort.

11 August 1943:
At 1000 arrives at St Jacques, Vichy French Indo-China..

15 October 1943:
At 1800, PANAMA MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 773 also consisting of MINRYO, NAGOYA and SHONAN (ex SINGAPORE) MARUs and TOSHIDA MARU No. 3 escorted by torpedo boat TOMOZURU and auxiliary submarine chaser CHa-42.

19 October 1943:
At 1400 arrives at Manila.

3 December 1943:
PANAMA MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 118 also consisting of transports DURBAN, KAIRYU, NANREI, NISSHU, RAIZAN, TACOMA and TSUKIKAWA MARUs and cargo JUICHISEI MARU (HOSHI MARU No. 11) and four unidentified merchants with unknown escorts.

8 December 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Takao.

19 January 1944:
At 0730, PANAMA MARU departs Moji for Takao in convoy No. 130 also consisting of hospital ship ASAHI MARU, transports ATSUTA, MAYA, TERUKUNI and YASUKUNI MARUs and oilers OGURA MARU No. 1 and SAN DIEGO MARU escorted by salvage tug KASASHIMA, auxiliary guard boat MYOJIN MARU No. 2 and auxiliary patrol boat SHINEI MARU.

PANAMA MARU is carrying 2,229 men of the 82nd Infantry Division including replacements for the 82nd and 83rd Infantry Regiments, 21st Division in Vichy French Indo-China.

23 January 1944:
Off Foochow, China. USAAF 14th Air Force North American B-25 "Mitchell" medium bombers attack the convoy at 27-15N, 120-45E. PANAMA MARU is sunk, but her bow grounds on rocks. 12 troops, one crewman and two gunners are KIA. With the exception of small arms and some ammunition, all the equipment she is carrying as well as 5,034 tons of coal are lost.

YASUKUNI and ATSUTA MARUs are damaged.

Author's Note:
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and the late John Whitman of Virginia and Fontessa-san of Japan for troop info.

-Bob Hackett

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