RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(SAGAMI MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

IJA Transport SAGAMI MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2016 Bob Hackett


2 May 1938:
Yokohama. Laid down at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Yokohama dockyard as a 7,189-ton passenger cargo ship for the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line, Tokyo.

27 November 1939:
Launched and named SAGAMI MARU. [1]

6 July 1940:
Completed and placed on NYKís South American route. She has a crew of 68 men and four VIP rooms, twin topside decks, special refrigerated cargo holds, and silk-lined rooms.

July 1940 - August 1941:
In service on NYKís South American route with ports of call including Hong Kong, Moji, Kobe, Yokkaichi, Yokohama, Honolulu, Hilo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Manzanillo, La Libertad, Balboa, Buenaventura, Callao, Pisco, Mollendo, Arica, Iquique and Valparaiso.

11 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop ship. Alloted IJA No. 864. Two large deck guns and several AA guns are fitted.

6 November 1941:
Departs Moji.

E November 1941:
Arrives at Wusong, off Shanghai. Later, departs for Hainan Island, China.

28 November 1941:
Hainan Island. At 0800, arrives at Samah, Hainan Island, China.

4 December 1941:
At 0600, SAGAMI MARU departs Samah in a convoy consisting of 18 transports carrying LtGen Yamashita Tomoyuki's (the "Tiger of Malaya") 25th Army to the Gulf of Thailand escorted by light cruiser SENDAI, DesDivs 12ís MURAKUMO, DesDiv 19's AYANAMI, ISONAMI, SHIKINAMI and URANAMI, DesDiv 20ís AMAGIRI, ASAGIRI, YUGIRI and SHIRAKUMO, minelayer HATSUTAKA, MinSweepDiv 1ís W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4, W-5, W-6 and W-8 and subchaser CH-9.

Distant cover is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kurita Takeo's (former CO of KONGO) CruDiv 7ís MOGAMI, MIKUMA, SUZUYA and KUMANO and destroyers FUBUKI, SHIRAYUKI and HATSUYUKI. Air cover is provided from seaplane tenders SANYO, SAGARA and KAMIKAWA MARUs. The convoy carries the Patani, Kra Isthmus, Singora and Kota Bharu, Siam (Thailand) IJA 5th Division Invasion Units. En route, the convoy and its escorts split into the respective Invasion Units and head for their assigned landing and covering points.

7 December 1941:
Pattani, Siam. At 2340, SAGAMI MARU arrives with the Pattani Invasion Unit consisting of transports HIROKAWA, KINKA and TOZAN MARUs escorted by DesDivs 12ís SHINONOME and DesDiv 20ís SHIRAKUMO. The invasion units lands troops of the IJAís 5th Infantryís 42nd Regiment and 22nd airfield unit.

December 1941:
Arrives at Guangdong, China.

Early 1942:
SAGAMI MARU's correct tonnage of 9264 grt appears in listings for the first time.

17 February 1942:
At night, transports SAGAMI and SASAGO MARUs carrying part of the IJA's 48th Infantry Division depart Makassar, Celebes (now Sulawasei) for Bali, Java (now Indonesia) escorted by DesDiv 8's ASASHIO, OSHIO, ARASHIO and MICHISHIO.

Light cruiser NAGARA, with Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kubo Kyuji [38] embarked, and DesDiv 21's HATSUSHIMO, NENOHI and WAKABA provide distant cover. During the invasion force's crossing of the Flores Sea, air cover is provided by Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters of the 3rd Air Group and the Tainan Air Group, based at Makassar.

19 February 1942: The Invasion of Bali and the Battle of Badung (Badoeng) Strait:
Sanur Roads. At 0200, Japanese troops land unopposed at Denpasar, Bali. After sighting several destroyers during the night, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Frederick B. Warder's (USNA Ď25) USS SEAWOLF (SS-197), on patrol at the north entrance by the Flores Sea, at 1256, sights the main force disembarking. At 1536, Warder fires two unreliable Mark-14 torpedoes each at SASAGO and SAGAMI MARUs, but they miss or premature. SEAWOLF is spotted by destroyers and depth charged unsucessfully. She makes good her escape.

At 1030, the Bali airfield complex is captured completely intact.

The Japanese withdraw most of their force to the north, leaving destroyers ASASHIO, OSHIO, ARASHIO and MICHISHIO to guard SAGAMI and SASAGO MARUs carrying the invasion force. Previous air attacks damaged SAGAMI MARU and she had to be sent to safer waters under the protection of destroyers ARASHIO and MICHISHIO. SASAGO MARU and the other two destroyers remained near the landing site in order to pick up the landing boats, which had not yet returned.

At 2200, as the Japanese convoy steams through the Badung Strait, Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman decides to attack in three echelons. Dutch cruiser Hr.Ms. De RUYTER, Dutch cruiser Hr.Ms. JAVA

Dutch light cruiser Hr.Ms. TROMP and old USN destroyers USS STEWART (DD-224), USS PARROTT (DD-218), USS JOHN D. EDWARDS (DD- DD-216) and USS PILLSBURY (DD-227) comprise the second echelon. At 2240, Dutch destroyer Hr.Ms. PIET HEIN is hit by torpedoes and gunfire from destroyer ASASHIO and goes down. 64 crewmen are KIA

19 February 1942:
Sanur Roads anchorage off SE Bali. At 0136, STEWART and PARROTT each fire six torpedoes and PILLSBURY three into the anchorage, but all miss, or fail to detonate. At 0143, USS STEWART opens fire on two Japanese destroyers. OSHIO and ASASHIO reply with accurate fire. At 0146, STEWART is hit twice. Her boats are shot away, her torpedo racks and galley are hit and she suffers damage aft below the water line, opening her seams and flooding the steering engine room. Hr.Ms. TROMP gets hits on OSHIO.

IJN destroyers MICHISHIO and ARASHIO are detached from escorting transport damaged SAGAMI MARU. As some of the Allied warships are retreating northward, they run into MICHISHIO and ARASHIO. MICHISHIO is caught in a crossfire. EDWARDS, PILLSBURY and Hr.Ms. TROMP all hit MICHISHIO and heavily damage her. She goes dead in the water with 13 KIA and 83 WIA. Later, ASASHIO tows her to Makassar.

February Ė May 1942:
SAGAMI MARU departs the area and later receives temporary bomb damage repairs, possibly by IJN repair ship YAMABIKO MARU at Makassar, then returns to Japan for permanent repairs.

3 June 1942:
SAGAMI MARU departs Mutsure in the RIKU convoy also consisting of AKIURA, KANSAI, KINUKAWA and SHINANOGAWA MARUs escorted by destroyers FUYO and WAKATAKE and torpedo boats SAGI and HAYABUSA.

8 June 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

2 July 1942:
SAGAMI MARU departs Manila in the "E" convoy also consisting of BUENOS AIRES, SHOHO, YAMAZUKI, YAMAZATO, ASAKASAN, HIROKAWA and SADO MARUs escorted by destroyer MOCHITZUKI.

6 July 1942:
Arrives at Mako and departs that same day.

8 July 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

29 September 1942:
SAGAMI MARU departs Singapore in a convoy also consisting of NOTO, NAGARA and KINAGAWA MARUs. Carries Part of the IJA 38th Division's transportation and Mountain Artillery (less 2 battalions) and Engineer Regiments (less 2 companies) and the main force of Division Signal Unit.

4 October 1942:
Arrives at Belawan, Sumatra and loads troops, horses and supplies.

19 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul via Surabaya, Java.

3 November 1942:
At 0700, arrives at Paramushiro. That same day, the IJA releases SAGAMI MARU back to her owners.

13 February 1943:
Davao Gulf, Mindanao, Philippines. SAGAMI MARU is at anchor in Talomo Bay. At 0921, two years after his prior encounter with SAGAMI MARU, LtCdr Warder again orders USS SEAWOLF's crew to Battle Stations - Torpedo. At 1050, he launches his first attack. The first torpedo hits the machinery spaces under the stack. SAGAMI MARU takes on a 30 degree list to starboard and settles in about 5 feet water. Japanese gunners man their bow and stern guns and commence firing at SEAWOLF.

SAGAMI MARU is rapidly righted. SEAWOLF withdraws southward, reloads torpedoes and comes in for a second attack. SAGAMI MARUís aft gun shells land about 500 yards to port of SEAWOLF and her forward gun's shells land about 500 yards to starboard. By 1131, SEAWOLF completes her second attack, this one from port side. One of her torpedoes hits SAGAMI MARU aft and clears the gunners from her aft gun platform and clears her entire topside of Japanese. Her forward gun remains manned, but not firing.

Warder observes SAGAMI MARU is down by the stern by about 10 feet, but is not sinking. Five boats are seen taking people from the ship to the dock. Warder fires torpedoes from his stern tubes that finally sink SAGAMI MARU at 07-02N, 125-33E.

SEAWOLF is depth-charged by at least three planes and two surface ships. Warder dives to 200 feet and takes evasive maneuvers for more than two hours. SEAWOLF finally escapes.


Authorís Note:
Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett


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