(SAKITO MARU, prewar)
IJA Transport SAKITO MARU:
Tabular Record of
© 2012-2016 Bob Hackett
16 April 1938:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Dockyard & Engineering
Works as a 7,126-ton passenger/cargo ship for the Nippon Yusen K. K. (NYK) Line,
27 October 1938:
Launched and named SAKITO MARU. 
29 January 1939:
Completed and placed in service on NYK’s New York
route. For the “New York-Line, she calls from Kobe to the Philippines, Hong
Kong, Kirun, Shanghai and Tientsin (Taku) then returns to Japan with calls at
Osaka, Kobe, Yokohama and other domestic ports. Then after crossing the Pacific
to Los Angeles she steams to New York via Balboa, the Panama Canal and
Cristobal. After calls at the east coasts port of Boston, Baltimore,
Philadelphia and Norfolk, Virginia, she returns back to Japan following roughly
the same route. Her cargo consists of raw silk from Japan and general cargo,
sugar, manganese and palm oil from the Philippines. On her return trip, her
cargo usually consists of steel products, cotton and general cargo.
4 September 1940:
Los Angeles, California. Captain Sato’s SAKITO MARU
is en route from New York to Yokahama, via the Panama Canal and Los Angeles
Harbor. At 0710, on a foggy morning, SAKITO MARU collides with 1,514-ton fishing
barge OLYMPIC II that is anchored on “Horseshoe Kelp” fishing bank at the
entrance of Los Angeles Harbor. OLYMPIC II sinks in 100 feet of water. Seven or
eight persons aboard her are killed.
25 May 1941:
Four miles S of Mollendo harbor, Peru. NYK’s ARIMA MARU
runs aground on a shoal. Later, NYK’s TAKAOKA MARU commences salvage work.
24 September 1941:
ARIMA MARU is refloated. Later, she is taken in tow
by SAKITO MARU and arrives at Callao, Peru where ARIMA MARU receives makeshift
9 October 1941:
SAKITO MARU departs Callao towing ARIMA MARU.
20 November 1941:
Arrives at Yokohama.
3 December 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army and converted to a
troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 992.
17 February 1942:
At 0800, SAKITO MARU departs Mutsure in No. 56 Army
Division Convoy No. 1 Section also consisting of AOBASAN, HARUNA, KYUSHU, NAGARA
and NAKO MARUs escorted by destroyer ASAGAO, KARUKAYA and minelayer HIRASHIMA.
20 February 1942:
At 1600, SAKITO MARU departs Camranh Bay in the 10th
Malaya Reinforcement Convoy consisting of two divisions: 1st division: AOBASAN,
NAKO, KYUSHU, SADO, KANSAI and NAGARA MARUs and 2nd division: SAGAMI, SASAKO,
HIROKAWA and CANBERRA MARUs. The convoy is escorted by light cruiser SENDAI and
destroyers FUBUKI and SHIKINAMI.
22 February 1942:
At 1800, both divisions arrive at Singora.
15 March 1942:
SAKITO MARU arrives at Singapore.
19 March 1942: "U" transport operation to Burma (U Sakusen Yuso):
First Burma Transport Convoy departs Singapore consisting of 32 ships with main
body of the 56th Division: , SAKITO, AOBASAN, GENOA, HAVRE, HARUNA, HIBURI,
HOFUKU, HOKUMEI, KAZUURA, KIZAN, GLASGOW, KUSUYAMA, KOTOHIRA, NAKO, NAGARA,
NICHIRAN, NAPLES, MYOKO, MOMOYAMA, SANKOSHINAI, SHINRYU, SHUNSEI, SYDNEY,
SHINANOGAWA, SUMATRA, TATEISHI, TSUYAMA, TOKIWA, YAE MARUs and two others.
25 March 1942:
The First Burma Transport Convoy arrives at Rangoon.
13 October 1942: - First Assault Convoy for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal:
SAKITO MARU departs Shortlands for Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, Solomons in a
high-speed convoy also consisting of AZUMASAN, KYUSHU, NANKAI, SADO and SASAKO
MARUs escorted by Rear Admiral Takama Tamotsu’s  DesRon 4’s AKIZUKI (F) and
DesDivs 2’s YUDACHI, HARUSAME, SAMIDARE, MURASAME and DesDiv 27’s SHIGURE,
SHIRATSUYU and ARIAKE. 
The convoy carries about 4,500 troops including the IJA’s 16th Regiment,
two battalions of the 230th Infantry Regiment and 824 men of the No. 4 Maizuru
Special Naval Landing Force ( SNLF) from Rabaul and Shortlands. The ships also
carry a battery of 100-mm guns and a battery of 150-mm howitzers, a battalion of
AA guns, the 1st Independent Tank Company, ammunition and provisions. Air cover
is provided by the 11th Air Fleet and the R-Area Air Force's floatplane
fighters. At midnight, the convoy arrives at Tassafaronga and proceeds with
14 October 1942: At dawn, Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters from carriers
HIYO and JUNYO and floatplane fighters of the R-Area Air Force provide cover
over the unloading operation. At 0600, a flight of six Grumman F4F "Wildcat'
fighters strafe the transports. One F4F is lost and another is damaged as is a
At about 1030, the transports are attacked by the “Cactus Air Force”
(later AirSols) from Henderson Field, Guadalcanal with a force of 25 aircraft
including 12 Douglas "Dauntless" SBD dive-bombers, three USAAF P-39s and one
P-400 “Airacobra” fighters, eight F4F fighter and one PBY-5 “Catalina” armed
with two torpedoes. An SDB or the PBY hits SASAKO MARU and starts a fatal fire.
She is beached and becomes a total loss, but her troops, tanks, and guns are
At 1150, after most of the transports have landed almost all of their
troops and heavy equipment, a flight of 11 B-17 “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers
from Espiritu Santo attack the transports. AZUMASAN MARU is hit and beached. At
about 1330, in another American air attack, KYUSHU MARU is hit by a bomb, set
afire and beached. The transports' troops, tanks, and guns are landed
successfully, but the tank fuel and ammunition they carried are lost. Both ships
burn out and become total losses.
Rear Admiral Takama gets his ships underway to avoid further air attacks
and the remains of the convoy heads N to Savo Island. At 1700, the convoy
returns to Tassafaronga. At 1740, the convoy is attacked again, this time by a
flight of four SBD dive-bombers of carrier USS ENTERPRISE’s VB-6. At 1742,
SAKITO and SADO MARUs and their escorts depart Tassafaronga for Rabaul.
18 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.
17 January 1943:
SAKITO MARU departs Muroran, S Hokkaido for the
Kurile Islands carrying 278 replacements for the 303rd Independent Infantry
Battalion and other 298 passengers. She also carries seven seaplane fighters,
one reconnaissance seaplane and four Daihatsu landing craft.
E 22 January 1943:
Arrives at Paramushiro, Kuriles.
28 January 1943:
At 2300, SAKITO MARU departs Paramushiro for Attu,
Aleutians in convoy No. 10 also consisting of KIMIKAWA MARU escorted by
destroyer USAGUMO and kaibokan KUNASHIRI.
31 January 1943:
At 2100, arrives at Attu. The convoy unloads and
departs the same day.
1 February 1943:
Arrives at Kiska. The convoy unloads and departs the
3 February 1943:
At 0700, arrives at Paramushiro.
13 February 1943:
SAKITO MARU departs Paramushiro on a supply run to
Kiska escorted by light cruiser KISO and DesDiv 21’s HATSUSHIMO and WAKABA.
SAKITO MARU's speed is slowed because of the presence of an American squadron
20 February 1943:
Arrives at Kiska. SAKITO MARU and KISO unload
22 February 1943:
Arrives back at Paramushiro.
5 March 1943:
Kashiwabara Bay, Shimushu Island, Kuriles. SAKITO MARU
is in a collision with IJN transport MURUTO MARU.
7 March 1943:
SAKITO MARU and armed merchant cruiser ASAKA MARU
departs Kashiwabara, Paramushiro for Attu escorted by the Fifth Fleet's cruisers
NACHI (F), MAYA, ABUKUMA, TAMA, KISO and destroyer USUGUMO with DesDiv 6's
IKAZUCHI and INAZUMA and DesDiv 21's HATSUSHIMO and WAKABA.
10 March 1943:
Arrives at Attu. KISO and the transports land
supplies, while the other units patrol.
13 March 1943:
All units arrive safely at Kashiwabara, Paramushiro.
17 March 1943:
Departs Paramushiro. Arrives at Kataoka Bay. Loads six
to eight 76mm army AA guns, four or more 25mm AA machine guns, ammunition, food
stuffs, other supplies and equipment for Attu. She also carries 200 to 300
troops and lumber.
23 March 1943:
SAKITO and SANKO MARUs and armed merchant cruiser
ASAKA MARU depart Kataoka, Paramushiro in convoy No. 21-RO escorted by DesRon
1’s light cruiser ABUKUMA and destroyers IKAZUCHI, INAZUMA, HATSUSHIMO, USUGUMO
SAKITO MARU is loaded with six to eight army 76mm AA guns, four or more
25mm AA machine guns, ammunition, food stuffs, other supplies and equipment for
Attu. She also carries about 200 to 300 troops and lumber.
25 March 1943:
Cruisers NACHI (F), with Vice Admiral Boshiro
embarked, and MAYA depart Paramushiro for Attu with light cruiser TAMA. That
same day, SAKITO MARU and her group run into a violent storm and are forced to
reduce speed. SANKO MARU and destroyer USUGUMO are detached.
26 March 1943: The Battle of the Komandorski Islands:
In the morning,
SAKITO MARU's group sight the Komandorski Islands and turn south to make their
planned rendezvous with the cruisers. At about noon, they contact the cruisers.
N Pacific, off the Kamchatka Peninsula, Siberia. Rear Admiral (later Vice
Admiral) Charles H. McMorris (former CO of SAN FRANSCISCO, CA-38) Task Group
16.6's USS RICHMOND (CL-9)(F), SALT LAKE CITY (CA-25) and destroyers BAILEY
(DD-492), DALE (DD-353), MONAGHAN (DD-354) and COGHLAN (DD-606) engage Vice
Admiral Hosogaya's Fifth Fleet cruisers NACHI (F), MAYA, TAMA and ABUKUMA and
two destroyers that are escorting Convoy "D" carrying troops and supplies for
the isolated garrison on Attu.
On contact with the Americans, NACHI's two planes are ordered launched.
At 0540, NACHI's main battery opens fire. The gun blast damages the spotter
plane on the starboard catapult. It has to be jettisoned. The remaining
three-seat E13A1 "Jake" on the port catapult is launched. It carries out
spotting duties throughout the action. About 30 minutes into the battle, SAKITO
and ASAKA MARUs are ordered to get clear and withdraw to the northeast.
In a four-hour running gun battle, SALT LAKE CITY and BAILEY are damaged
by gunfire. The other American destroyers are not damaged. NACHI and MAYA are
also hit and damaged. About 1000, SAKITO and ASAKA MARUs receive orders from
flagship NACHI to return to Paramushiro and that ABUKUMA and two destroyers will
be sent to join them. McMorris succeeds in causing the Japanese to abort their
29 March 1943: The fleet arrives at Paramushiro in the morning. ASAKA
MARU arrives that evening. Disgraced, Hosogaya is relieved of command and forced
to retire. Vice Admiral Kawase Shiro (former XO of KIRISHIMA) assumes command of
the Fifth Fleet.
30 October 1943:
75 miles NE of Shanghai. SAKITO MARU collides with,
and sinks, Toa Kaiun Line's 5,252-ton cargo-passsenger vessel SHANGHAI MARU.
3 November 1943:
Takao, Formosa. SAKITO MARU probably receives
post-collision inspection and necessary temporary repairs.
2 December 1943:
SAKITO MARU departs Takao in Special G convoy (Part
2) also consisting of ASOSAN, MIRI and NISSHO MARUs with unknown escort.
7 December 1943:
Arrives at Mutsure.
December 1943-January 1944:
SAKITO MARU is probably docked and
receives post-collision permanent repairs to her hull.
Pusan, Korea. SAKITO MARU embarks about 4,000 soldiers
of the IJA 18th Infantry Regiment and other division elements. Many men are
quartered in three-step shelf-like tiers in the transport’s cargo holds.
Departs Pusan in an unidentified convoy also consisting
of several transports escorted by DesDiv 31’s destroyers ASASHIMO, OKINAMI and
Arrives at Ujina.
26 February 1944:
At 2100, SAKITO MARU departs Ujina in the "Matsu
Maru Transportation Convoy" also consisting of passenger-cargo AKI MARU and
transport TOZAN (TOSAN) MARU escorted by DesDiv 31’s ASASHIMO, OKINAMI and
The convoy is carrying reinforcements for the Marianas taken from the
Kwantung Army’s 29th Infantry Division based in Manchuria. SAKITO MARU carries
most of the 18th Infantry Regiment bound for Tinian while AKI MARU carries the
division staff and most of the 38th Infantry Regiment bound for Guam and TOZAN
MARU carries most of the 50th Infantry Regiment bound for Saipan.
28 February 1944:
By the evening, the convoy advances southward to a
point off Cape Seta, S Kyushu.
29 February 1944:
At 0246, destroyer ASASHIMO’s Type 22 radar detects
a submarine aft off the port side, range about 6,300 yards. At 0255, the range
had opened to about 6,400 yards and the submarine was now off the starboard
side. ASASHIMO snaps on her searchlight and opens fire with her main guns. She
fires 15 rounds, one of which hits and wrecks LtCdr John J. Flachsenhar's (USNA
'35) USS ROCK (SS-274) in the periscope shears. ASASHIMO drops two DCs and
rejoins the convoy. USS ROCK, blind under water without her periscopes, is
forced to terminate her war patrol.
SE of Okinawa. At about 1753, LtCdr Albert H. Clark’s (USNA '33) USS
TROUT (SS-202) fires three Mark XVIII electric torpedoes at SAKITO MARU at
22-40N, 131-50E. Two hit her portside in the engine room. A cargo of gasoline
explodes and flooding begins. The fires block passageways and panic the
tightly-packed troops. Soldiers on deck throw overboard wooden hatches, boxes,
and construction timber as makeshift floats.
AKI MARU is hit in the bow and suffers flooding but is able to continue.
TOZAN MARU is hit by a dud torpedo, but also able to continue.
ASASHIMO detects the submarine and drops 19 depth charges. Oil and debris
come to the surface and ASASHIMO drops a final depth charge on that spot.
17 April 1944:
TROUT is declared presumed lost with all 81 hands.
1 March 1944:
At 0400, SAKITO MARU sinks at 22-40N, 131-50E. 2,358
soldiers, 65 ship’s gunners and 52 crewmen of 3,500 men on board are KIA
including the 18th Infantry’s regimental commander, Colonel Monma Kentaro. Also
lost are several light tanks and most of the regiment's equipment.
ASASHIMO and OKINAMI rescue 1,688 survivors and deliver them to Saipan.
Six hundred are seriously burned or wounded. None of the regiment’s equipment
nor artillery and none of the eight tanks aboard reach Saipan.
 SAKITO MARU was also known as SAKIDO MARU.
 The extent of damage to SAKITO MARU was probably superfical because
two days later she departed Paramushiro for Attu with ASAKA MARU escorted by
cruisers NACHI and MAYA, light cruisers TAMA and ABUKUMA and five destroyers.
 USS TROUT was the only American submarine which could have attacked
at this time in this position, but since she did not report the action, it is
assumed she was lost during or shortly after this attack.
[4} TROUT was using Mk. XVIII electric torpedoes, and it is also possible
that one of those made a circular run and sunk the boat, as happened with USS
TANG due to faulty design and testing.
Thanks go to the late John Whitman for addiional info on SAKITO MARU's sinking and
troops carried to Attu. Thanks also go to Erich Muethlthaler of Germany.
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