(RIKKO MARU MARU, prewar )
Tabular Record of Movement
© 2013 Bob Hackett
Belfast, Ireland. Laid down at Workman, Clark & Co. Ltd., as yard
number 516, a 9,181 ton tanker for Andrew Weir Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd, (Bank Line) of Glasgow & London.
Launched and named CORABANK.
21 April 1936:
Departs Singapore for Kudat, Borneo.
Sold to Nippon Yusosen K.K., Tokyo. Renamed RIKKO MARU.
Requisitioned by the Japanese Government's Senpaku Uneikai civilian wartime shipping authority. Alloted to the Imperial Army (IJA) and chartered with a civilian crew.
23 December 1942:
RIKKO MARU departs Mutsure in convoy No. 106 also consisting of KOAN, NICHIRAN, NICHIRIN, NICHIREN, TEIKAI (ex-German FULDA), KUWAYAMA, YAMAGIKU MARUs and NISSHIN MARU No. 2 escorted by destroyer WAKATAKE.
28 December 1942:
Arrives at Mako.
1 January 1943:
RIKKO MARU departs Mako in convoy No. 359 also consisting of KOAN, NICHIRIN, NICHIREN, TEIKAI (ex-German FULDA) and KUWAYAMA MARUs and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer SANAE.
6 January 1943:
Arrives at St Jacques, Vichy French Indochina (Vung Tau, Vietnam).
23 April 1943:
Departs St Jacques in convoy No.574 also consisting of tanker RIKKO MARU and one unidentified merchant ship without escort.
26 April 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.
10 June 1943:
RIKKO MARU departs Mako in convoy No. 398 also consisting of tanker OGURA MARU No. 2 and cargo ships ADEN and WAKO MARUs with an unknown escort. At an unknown point, ADEN MARU is detached for Rabaul, New Britain.
18 June 1943:
Arrives at St Jacques.
E 19 June 1943:
RIKKO MARU departs St Jacques in a convoy also consisting of WAKO MARU and tanker OGURA MARU No. 2 with an unknown escort.
22 June 1943:
Near Singapore, OGURA MARU No. 2 is detached.
5 July 1943:
RIKKO MARU departs St Jacques in convoy No. 408 also consisting of oiler OGURA MARU No. 2 and three unidentified merchant ships escorted by patrol boat PB-2.
10 July 1943:
At 2200, arrives at Takao.
28 September 1943:
RIKKO MARU departs Mako for Saint Jacques in convoy No.326 also consisting of DOWA, KUNISHIMA and YASUKUNI MARUs and an unidentified ship probably unescorted.
2 October 1943:
Arrives at Saint Jacques.
3 October 1943:
Departs Saint Jacques for Singapore.
5 October 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.
29 October 1943: At 1120, RIKKO MARU departs Takao in convoy No. 215 also consisting of DURBAN, REIYO, KOFUKU MARUs and tanker ZUIYO MARU and an unidentified ship escorted by patrol boat PB-36.
30 October 1943:
Arrives at Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan) and departs later that day. NICHINAN MARU joins the convoy.
4 November 1943:
At 0740, arrives at Moji.
16 January 1944:
At 1500, RIKKO MARU departs Manila in convoy No. 3103 also consisting of HAVRE MARU and tankers CHIYODA and SAN PEDRO MARUs escorted by torpedo boat MANAZURU.
21 Janary 1944:
At 1100, arrives at Miri. Loads fuel.
1 March 1944:
At 1635, RIKKO MARU departs Moji in convoy MOTA-07 consisting of tankers ATAGO, CHIYODA, NITTATSU and SARAWAK MARUs and transports/cargo ships HAKUROKU, KENSEI, SUGIYAMA, TEIKO (ex-Vichy French CAP VARELLA) and YAMAHAGI MARUs escorted by destroyer AMAGIRI and minesweeper W-30.
4 March 1944:
MAESHIMA and destroyer ASAGAO join the escort of convoy MOTA-07 and probably LONDON MARU and two unidentified merchant ships from MOTA-05.
7 March 1944:
HAKUROKU MARU falls behind with engine problems, but rejoins the convoy later that day.
8 March 1944:
Off northern Formosa, TEIKO and YAMAHAGI MARUs are detached for Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan).
9 March 1944:
At 1440, arrives at Takao.
21 March 1944:
RIKKO MARU departs Takao in convoy TAMA-12 also consisting of ATAGO, BUNZAN, NITTATSU, SAN LUIS, TAIYU and TAKETOYO MARUs and OGURA MARU No. 2 escorted by destroyer KURETAKE.
24 March 1944:
Arrives at Manila.
6 April 1944:
RIKKO MARU departs Miri in convoy MIMA-11 also consisting of NITTATSU, TAKETOYO MARUs and one unidentified merchant ship escorted by destroyer KURETAKE.
10 April 1944:
14 April 1944:
RIKKO MARU departs Manila in convoy MATA-18 consisting of SAN LUIS, YOSHU, NITTATSU, TAKETOYO MARUs and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by light cruiser KISO, destroyer KURETAKE (part way) and auxiliary subchaser CHa-9 (part way).
18 April 1944:
Arrives at Takao.
13 May 1944:
RIKKO MARU departs departs Moji in convoy MOTA-19 also consisting of SHIRAMINE, KONSAN, JUZAN, KENZUI, MEDAN, IKUTA, KANKYO, NISSHU, MIIKESAN, KOAN, RIKKO, YUKI, ATSUTA, GENKAI, TAMAHOKO and CHINZEI MARUs and seven unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU, CD-2 and CD-17.
Convoy MOTA-19 carries the Army’s 26th, 98th and 114th Airfield Battalions, each airfield battalion had about 350 men organized into a headquarters, a supply company, and a guard company. The 98th and 114th two battalions were activated in Manchuria in April '44. All three sailed out of Pusan for Manila and ultimately Mindanao and Leyte.
For additional airfield support, three brand new Manchuria-activated 209-man airfield companies, the 51st, 52nd and 53rd and 49th and 50th airfield companies activated in Japan are also heading for the Philippines. The new 18th Shipping Engineer Regiment is headed for Halmahera, possibly aboard JUZAN MARU. The 547-man, two-company 9th Air Intelligence Unit with eight Type B fixed early warning radars is aboard.
Half of the 12th Air Signal Regiment—the regiment’s first echelon—is in this convoy as is the 96th Independent Wire Company. The Japanese are laying the foundation for an aviation command, control, and early warning net. The Navy’s 96th Air Defense Unit also probably boarded JUZAN MARU.
19 May 1944:
KENZUI MARU is detached to Kirun.
20 May 1944:
Arrives at Takao.
22 May 1944:
RIKKO MARU departs Takao in convoy TAMA-19 also consisting of tankers MATSUMOTO, KONSAN, cargo ships DAIRIN, SHIRAMINE and TATSUYASU, MEDAN, IKUTA, KANKYO, NISSHU, MIIKESAN, KOAN, YUKI, ATSUTA, GENKAI, TAMAHOKO and CHINZEI MARUs and five unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU, CD-2 and CD-17.
Convoy TAMA-19 carries the same Army Airfield units as were carried in convoy MOTA-19 except for 9th Air Intelligence Unit that sailed with TAMA-20.
26 May 1944:
Arrives at Manila.
29 May 1944:
RIKKO MARU departs Manila in convoy MASHI-01 also consisting of KONSAN, MATSUMOTO, MEDAN, SIBERIA, IKUTA MARUs, NICHINAN MARU No.2 and one unidentified merchant ship escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU, CD-2 and CD-17.
6 June 1944:
Arrives at Singapore.
13 June 1944:
Convoy SHIMA-01 departs Singapore consisting of SAN PEDRO, KONSAN and MEDAN MARUs and probably RIKKO MARU and three unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU, CD-2 and CD-17.
22 June 1944:
Arrives at Manila.
24 June 1944:
At 0630, RIKKO MARU departs Manila in convoy MATA-23 also consisting of tankers MEDAN and SAN PEDRO MARUs and cargo ships KAMO, USSURI, NICHIZUI, TASMANIA, KAZAN and TOUN MARUs and six unidentified ships escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU, CD-8 and CD-17.
25 June 1944:
At 0430, SAN PEDRO MARU is torpedoed and sunk by LtCdr Arthur E. Krapf's USS JACK (SS-259) at 16-09N, 119-41E. NICHIZUI MARU rescues survivors. Convoy leader ETOROFU orders evasive maneuvers.
27 June 1944:
At 0517, MEDAN MARU is torpedoed and sunk with no survivors by LtCdr (later Captain) Slade D. Cutter's USS SEAHORSE (SS-304) at 21-10N, 120-31E. Later that day, at 1518, SEAHORSE again attacks. USSURI MARU is hit on the port bow and damaged. At 2245, a B-24 "Liberator" bombs USSURI MARU, but misses.
28 June 1944:
At 0315, straggler USSURI MARU is bombed and sunk at 23-45N, 119-57E. Shortly after, at 0335, RIKKO MARU is slightly damaged by air attack.
29 June 1944:
At 0900, the convoy arrives at Kirun.
19 August 1944:
At 0600, RIKKO MARU departs Moji in convoy also MI-15 consisting of CHIYODA, EKKAI, HOKUSEN, NANSEI , TAISHO, TSINGTAO, TOSHIGAWA and URATAO MARUs and OKINOYAMA MARU No. 5 escorted by destroyers WAKABA and HIBIKI
(and probably HATSUHARU), minelayer SHIRATAKA and minesweeper W-21.
25 August 1944:
Arrives at Takao at 1600.
30 August 1944:
At 1500, RIKKO MARU departs Takao for Manila in reorganized convoy MI-15 that now consists of CHIYODA, EIKYU, HOSEN, NANSEI, OKUNI (TAIKOKU), SHINYO and TAISHO MARUs with UNKAI MARU No. 5, OKINOYAMA MARU No. 5 and KYOEI MARU No. 10 escorted by kaibokan CD-10 and CD-20, minelayer SHIRATAKA and minesweeper W-21. RIKKO MARU is in ballast, but carrying 506 men of the 3rd Aviation Army, 5th Aviation Communication Unit, boy soldiers and others.
31 August 1944:
Luzon Strait, S of Formosa. At about 0220, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles E. Loughlin's QUEENFISH (SS-393) hits CHIYODA MARU with four torpedoes and sets her afire. Loughlin also damages RIKKO MARU. At 0240, as the moon sets, CHIYODA MARU sinks.
LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Eli T. Reich's USS SEALION (SS-315), a member of "Ben's Busters" with LtCdr (later KIA) Thomas B. Oakley’s USS GROWLER (SS-215) and USS PAMPANITO, enters the Bashi Strait. SEALION’s SJ radar picks up the convoy. Reich makes a night surface approach. He sets up and fires six torpedoes, but they all run erratically. About 0500, Reich swings SEALION and fires four stern torpedoes at a large tanker. He claims two hits. About the same time, Oakley’s GROWLER makes a night surface radar attack and fires three torpedoes at a large tanker, probably RIKKO MARU. Oakley also claims two hits.
RIKKO MARU is hit by three torpedoes at 21-30N, 121-19E. 117 passengers and eight crewmen are KIA. The ship is enveloped in black smoke with only the stern visible, but does not sink, possibly indicating one or more of the torpedoes were duds.
Alerted by code-breaker's "Ultra" signals, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Eugene B. Fluckey's USS BARB (SS-220) intercepts the convoy. At about 0700, Fluckey torpedoes OKUNI MARU. She sinks stern first. Fluckey also sinks the 45th Minesweeper Squadron's HINODE MARU No. 20 that was patrolling the area.
SEALION evades the convoy's escorts. Still surfaced, LtCdr Reich makes an “end-around” approach and works his way ahead of the convoy. Reich misidentifies minelayer SHIRATAKA as a destroyer and begins a submerged approach. At 0730, Reich hits SHIRATAKA with two of three torpedoes fired. At 1115, SHIRATAKA sinks at 20-55N, 121-07E.
E1 September 1944:
RIKKO MARU arrives at Takao, probably under tow. Undergoes temporary repairs.
7 September 1944:
At 1000, the remainder of convoy MI-15 arrives at Manila.
RIKKO MARU departs Takao, possibly still under tow. Arrives at Mako (Makung), Pescadores. Possibly undergoes further repairs.
RIKKO MARU departs Mako, possibly still under tow. Arrives at Kirun. Undergoes further repairs.
RIKKO MARU is further damaged by carrier aircraft of Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) John S. McCain’s (USNA ’06) Task Force 38.
6 March 1945:
Off Kirun. At 0630. during a typhoon, RIKKO MARU breaks in two at a site of previous torpedo damage and sinks at 25-09N, 121-44E.
Thanks go to Gilbert Cassse of France. Thanks also go to John Whitman for info on troops carried in convoys MOTA-19 and TAMA-19 in Rev 1.
- Bob Hackett
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