(Government Requisitioned Ships)

Stories of Axis Merchant Ships in Japanese Service

11 November 2018

By Bob Hackett, Gilbert Casse, Peter Cundall and Erich Muehlthaler

Discussion & Questions


During the Pacific War, a number of Vichy French, German and Italian vessels were chartered by Japan. After France's defeat by Nazi Germany, 84-year old Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, hero of Verdun in WWI, was appointed the new premier. On 22 June 1940, Petain signed the Franco-German Armistice that divided France into occupied and unoccupied zones. After the armistice, most of France's merchant marine establishment was integrated into Vichy’s fleet.

After Italy’s entry into the war on 10 June 1940, some Italian vessels quit their British-besieged North African bases and made for the Far East, but neutral Japan would not allow the Italians to conduct commerce raiding activities from Japanese ports.

On 10 July 1940, a vote by the French National Assembly proclaimed a new government located at Vichy in France’s unoccupied southern zone. Vichy was the government from July 1940 to August 1944. Pétain and the Vichy regime fully collaborated with the German occupation. After the liberation of France from the Nazis, elderly Petain was tried, convicted of treason and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by General Charles de Gaulle.

In early 1942, the Japanese requisitioned many Vichy French ships in Indochina under the Right of Angary. In international law, the Right of Angary is the right of belligerents to requisition for their use neutral merchant vessels, aircraft, and other means of transport that are within their territorial jurisdiction. Generally, the Right of Angary should be applied only in case of pressing need in time of war and compensation is due to the neutral owner.

Most Vichy French and German ships in the Far East were chartered by wholly owned Japanese Government Teikoku Senpaku Kaisha (Imperial Steamship Co.), given Japanese names and operated by Japanese steamship companies such as Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK), Mitsui, Nihon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and others.

In September 1943, after fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was deposed and Italy declared an armistice, several Italian vessels in Far Eastern ports were scuttled to prevent their falling into the hands of the Japanese. Nevertheless, the Japanese refloated and repaired most such sunken vessels and then pressed them into service.

This page will cover the activities of 28 Axis (10 Vichy French, eight German, eight Italian and one Finnish) vessels in Japanese service.

Vichy transport TEIA MARU (ex-ARAMIS) and Italian transport KOTOBUKI MARU (ex-CONTE VERDE) have been covered in our KOKANSEN Diplomatic Exchange and Repatriation Ships page.

German submarine tender QUITO (a.k.a TEISHUN MARU) has been covered on our SENSUI BOKAN! page and German oil tanker TEIKON MARU (ex-WINNETOU) will be covered on our YUSOSEN!page.

This page will also cover two captured Danish merchant ships and one captured Yugoslavian merchant ship in Japanese Service.

Tabular Records of Movement (TROMs):
Axis Merchant Ships in Japanese Service

Vichy French Vessels

(ex-BERNARDIN ST. PIERRE) (revised 1/7/2018)

(ex-BOUGAINVILLE) (revised 1/26/2015)

(ex-CAP VARELLA) (revised 7/27/2013)

(ex-D'ARTAGAN)(revised 9/15/2012)

(ex-KINDIA)(posted 11/6/2010)

(ex-PERSEE) (revised 11/11/2018)

(ex-TAI SEUN HONG) (revised 1/30/2017)


(ex-LECONTE DE LISLE) (revised 11/11/2018)

(ex-VILLE DE VERDUN) (revised 7/27/2013)

German Vessels

TANGO MARU (ex-RENDSBURG)(posted 10/6/2012)

TEIZUI MARU (ex-MOSEL)(revised 4/27/2014)

TEIYO MARU (ex-SAARLAND) (revised 6/29/2018)

TEIRYU MARU (ex-AUGSBURG) (revised 9/23/2018)

TEIKAI MARU (ex-FULDA) (revised 11/11/2018)

TEIUN MARU (ex-BREMERHAVEN)(posted 2/26/2011)

TEISEN MARU (ex-URSULA RICKMERS) (posted 1/29/2010)

TEIFUKU MARU (ex-R. C. RICKMERS) (posted 3/26/2011)

TEISHO MARU (ex-HAVENSTEIN)(revised 4/17/2017)

Italian Vessels

TEIYU MARU (ex-CARIGNANO) (revised 11/13/2016)

IKUTAGAWA MARU (ex-RAMB II) (revised 1/30/2017)

ATAKA MARU (ex-ADA)(posted 2/19/2011)

ENKYO MARU (ex-ENDERTA) (posted 3/19/2011)

KONEI MARU (ex-FURIERE CONSOLINI) (revised 2/1/2012)

HARYU MARU (ex-GRANATIERE PADULA) (posted 7/16/2011)

MARUKO MARU (ex-MARCO POLO) (posted 7/23/2011)

AOKI MARU (ex-AMBA ALAGI) (revised 11/30/2011)

Finnish Vessel

TORNATOR GO (ex-NORSEMAN) (posted 8/13/2011)

Captured Danish Vessels

TEIBO MARU (ex-NORDBO)(posted 10/30/2010)


Captured Yugoslavian Vessel

TEIAN MARU (ex-TOMISLAV) (posted 5/12014)

Data for some vessels are incomplete for some time periods. Readers with access to missing data are requested to post the information on the Discussion & Questions board or the IJN Ship Message Board.

Bibliography of Sources

About the Authors

Mr. Robert Hackett is a military historian and researcher. Retired from the United States Air Force and later from the aerospace industry, he resides in Florida.

Mr. Peter Cundall is a maritime historian and researcher who specializes in merchant ships. He resides in Australia.

Mr. Gilbert Casse of France is a naval enthusiast, historian and researcher.

Questions to the authors concerning these TROMs should be posted on the Discussion and Questions board.