(Seria Maru by Ueda Kihachiro)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2010-2013 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

11 March 1944:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. Zosensho as a 10,238-ton Type 2TL Wartime Standard Merchant Tanker.

9 May 1944:
Launched and named SERIA MARU.

30 June 1944:
Completed. Controlled and operated by Senpaku Un´eikai (Civilian Shipping Administration). Alloted to the Japanese Army as a Rikugun Haitosen. While in use by the Army, Haitosen receive Army transport numbers like Army requisitioned vessels. SERIA MARU is given Imperial Army No. 5207.

13 July 1944:
At 1600, SERIA MARU departs Mutsure for Manila in convoy HI-69 consisting of escort carriers KAIYO and TAIYO each loaded with aircraft, KIMIKAWA, AKI, ASAMA, KACHIDOKI (ex-PRESIDENT HARRISON), SAIGON MANKO MARUs and tankers HARIMA, KOEI, HAKKO, OTOWASAN, OMUROSAN, KUROSHIO, TENEI MARUs and possibly MANJU MARU escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, SADO, CD-7 and CD-17. SERIA MARU carries a deck cargo of 510 men and eighteen aircraft.

18 July 1944:
Near Takao, Formosa. About 0600, LtCdr John J. Flachsenhar's USS ROCK (SS-274) fires four torpedoes at HARIMA MARU, but misses. Cdr Alan Banister's USS SAWFISH (USS 276) then fires nine torpedoes at the convoy. HARIMA MARU is hit by a single torpedo, but remains able to steam.

At 1055, LtCdr Roger M. Keithy's USS TILEFISH (SS-307) torpedoes and heavily damages CD-17. The convoy continues to Manila without stopping at Takao as originally planned, but damaged HARIMA MARU and CD-17 put into Takao.

19 July 1944:
At 2100, arrives at Manila. KAIYO and TAIYO begin unloading aircraft.

25 July 1944:
At 0530, SERIA MARU departs Manila for Singapore in convoy HI-69 consisting of KIMIKAWA, HAKKO, OTOWASAN, OMUROSAN, KUROSHIO, KACHIDOKI and TENEI MARUs escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan SADO, CHIBURI, CD-7 CD-9, CD-13 and CD-17. [1]

31 July 1944:
At 1745, arrives at Singapore.

4 August 1944:
At 2100, SERIA MARU departs Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-70 consisting of MANJU, KINUGASA, ARIMASAN MARUs and oilers KUROSHIO, HAKKO, OMUROSAN and OTOWASAN MARUs escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, light cruiser KASHII, destroyer SHIMOTSUKI and kaibokan CHIBURI, SADO, CD-13 and CD-19.

12 August 1944:
SADO is detached to hunt an enemy submarine. Later, she proceeds to Keelung (Kirun) separately.

15 August 1944:
At 1430, convoy HI-70 arrives at Moji.

8 September 1944:
At 1100, SERIA MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-75 consisting of oilers NICHIEI, RYOEI, TOHO (1944 built), YUHO, AMATO and MANEI MARUs, passenger liner ASAMA MARU, transport SAIGON MARU and flying boat tender AKITSUSHIMA escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, kaibokan KANJU, MANJU and MIYAKE and DesDiv 30’s YUZUKI and UZUKI. SAIGON MARU is carrying 700 mines and 100 depth charges.

12 September 1944:
In the morning, SAIGON MARU, YUZUKI and KANJU are detached for the China coast. They later rejoin at Takao.

13 September 1944:
At 1400, arrives at Takao.

14 September 1944:
The convoy is increased by the addition of oilers FUJISAN (1944), KUROSHIO and TAIHO MARUs, torpedo boat HIYODORI and kaibokan CD-28. At 1630, the convoy departs Takao. Soon thereafter, AMATO MARU, and at 1900, YUHO MARU develop engine problems and are detached.

16 September 1944:
At 2330, KANJU, suffering rudder problems, collides with SERIA MARU in heavy squalls and poor visibility, but there is little damage.

17 September 1944:
At 1000, SAIGON MARU and AKITSUSHIMA with escorts YUZUKI and UZUKI are detached from HI-75 and head for Manila. Enroute, SAIGON MARU is torpedoed and sunk by Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Rueben T. Whitaker's USS FLASHER (SS-249).

18 September 1944:
At 1040, kaibokan KURAHASHI joins the escort. At 2015, SERIA MARU suffers rudder problems and collides with FUJISAN MARU, but again the damage is slight.

19 September 1944:
At 1500, AMATO MARU rejoins the convoy.

22 September 1944:
At 1600, the remainder of convoy HI-75 arrives at Singapore.

2 October 1944:
At 1700, SERIA MARU departs Singapore for Moji in convoy HI-76 consisting of oilers NICHIEI, NICHINAN, RYOEI, FUJISAN, TOHO (II), KUROSHIO and TARAKAN MARUs, ex-seaplane tender KIMIKAWA MARU and cargo ship TEIHOKU MARU escorted by escort carrier SHINYO, torpedo boat HIYODORI, and kaibokan KANJU DAITO, MANJU, MIYAKE, KURAHASHI, CD-9 and CD-28.

8 October 1944:
South China Sea. At 0100, LtCdr Henry D. Sturr’s USS BECUNA (SS-319) attacks the convoy at 14-12N, 115-53E. Sturr fires four torpedoes and claims two hits on KIMIKAWA MARU. She is detached from the convoy and heads for Manila escorted by HIYODORI and CD-28.

17 October 1944:
Early in the morning, MANJU and MIYAKE are detached with RYOEI MARU and head for Mako.

18 October 1944:
Off Samah. KANJU is joined by kaibokan CD-25 and CD-32. Tankers FUJISAN, NICHINAN and NICHIEI MARUs are detached and remain at Samah. Tanker TENEI MARU joins the convoy. KANJU is now flagship.

20 October 1944:
KURAHASHI and CD-25 are detached to escort NICHIEI MARU to Coron Bay.

22 October 1944:
At 1200, arrives Mako. KUROSHIO and TOHO MARUs and kaibokan CD-32 are detached and YASHIRO joins.

24 October 1944:
TENEI MARU has an engine breakdown and falls behind, but later rejoins.

1 November 1944:
At 1130, arrives in home waters. SHINYO is detached to Kure prior to arrival at Moji.

November 1944:
SERIA MARU arrives in home waters probably undergoes repairs and maintenance at Mitsubishi. (Unconfirmed).

19 December 1944:
At 1330, departs Moji with light cruiser KASHII, kaibokan DAITO, UKURU, CD- 23, CD-27, CD-51 and CD 112 escorting convoy HI-85 consisting of tankers SERIA and SHINYU MARUs and convoy MOTA-38 consisting of Army transports HYUGA, KIBITSU, SHINSHU and AOBASAN MARUs. The convoys hugs the littoral China coast on the way south.

23/24 December 1944:
At midnight arrives at Takao’s outer harbor.

25 December 1944:
At 1440, enters Takao port.

27 December 1944:
SERIA MARU departs Takao for Singapore in convoy HI-85 consisting of tankers DAINAN, ENKEI, YAMAZAWA, ENGEN, ENCHO, DAIGYO, OTSUSAN, FUEI, OEI, SHINGI, SHINYU MARU and cargo ship TEIHOKU MARU escorted by light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan DAITO, TSUSHIMA, UKURU, CD-23, CD-27 and CD-51. Shortly after departure, DAINAN MARU breaks down and returns to Takao.

28 December 1944:
TSUSHIMA is detached from the convoy and makes for Yulin, Hainan Island.

29 December 1944:
South China Sea. At 1725, minesweeper W-101 joins HI-85’s escort.

30-31 December 1944:
On both days, sporadic attacks by B-24s are beaten off without loss.

1 January 1945:
At 1720, convoy arrives Qui Nhon Bay.

2 January 1945:
Departs Qui Nhon Bay. That evening, the convoy anchors at Nha Trang Bay, Indochina.

3 January 1945:
At 0730, the convoy departs Nha Trang. While proceeding south, near the east entrance of Hainan Straits, the convoy is attacked by one USN PB4Y (B-24) that approaches from astern in a glide with its motor cut. One bomb hits TEIHOKU MARU, the last ship in the west column. TEIHOKU MARU and escort TSUSHIMA are detached to Yulin for repairs. While enroute to Yulin, they are bombed again and TSUSHIMA is damaged by a near miss.

4 January 1945:
At 1030, convoy HI-85 arrives at Cape St. Jacques where it is ordered dissolved.

20 January 1945:
In the early morning, 32-year old Captain Takeshi Urabe’s SERIA MARU departs Bukum Island Oil Terminal, Singapore carrying a cargo of 17,000 tons grade of grade 92 aviation gasoline. At 1000, off the east tip of Singapore island, two unidentified subchasers join as escorts forming convoy HI-88A. At 1200, with Tanjung Ayam on port side and Pulau Bintan on starboard, the convoy enters the South China Sea, speed 13 knots.

21 January 1945:
In the afternoon, off the Malayan Peninsula, a surfaced enemy submarine is discovered. Early detection of the submarine prevents the convoy from attack when closing shallow waters. In the evening, temporarily anchors off Singora.

23 January 1945:
At 2300, SERIA MARU arrives at Cape St. Jacques, Indochina. Kaibokan CD-41 and CD-205 join SERIA MARU as escorts. At 2300, convoy HI-88A departs Cape St. Jacques.

25 January 1945:
About noon, near Cap Padaran, Indochina, floating debris and a number of floating corpses are discovered, obviously from a Japanese merchant ship sunk on 12 January 1945 by TF-38 planes.

26 January 1945:
A twin engine enemy plane is sighted in the distance. The aircraft turns to attack, but stalls and crashes. CD-205 hurries to scene and finds the tail sticking out of the water. Various items of wreckage are recovered. No bodies are found. Later, CD-205 rejoins the convoy.

27 January 1945:
Off Halu Island, Indochina. At about 0700, an unknown submarine fires three torpedoes at SERIA MARU, but they all miss. The torpedoes are observed sinking after covering a further 300 meters. Later this day, between Iles de Poulo Canton and Cap Batangan, the convoy passes through an enemy laid magentic mine field. In the evening, temporarily anchorsat Baie de Tuamoi (Vung Chon May) at 16-20N, 108-00E.

28 January 1945:
At dawn, weighsd anchor and crosses the Gulf of Tonkin. Normal convoy route would pass Hainan on the southeast side, a most popular hunting ground for submarines. In order to fool enemy submarines, Captain Urabe makes a daring decision when he aims his large fully loaded tanker towards the shallow Hainan Strait, normally limited to traffic by 5,000 to 6,000 grt ships.

29 January 1945:
By extraordinary navigational skill, Captain Urabe steers his ship through the deepest channel of the strait and safely exits on its east side. At this time, SERIA MARU is by far the largest vessel ever to have transitted Hainan Strait. Another masterpiece by this daring captain.

30 January 1945:
S of Hong Kong. The convoy is attacked by a lone very low-flying B-24 heavy bomber. Two bombs dropped which exploded 50 meters ahead off port side bow, but no damage is received.

2 February 1945:
E of Shanghai. Destroyers SUGI and KASHI join the escort of convoy HI-88A.

7 February 1945:
Arrives at Moji.

8 February 1945:
Arrives at Shimotsu Oil Depot, Wakayama-Ken. Her gasoline cargo is so important that two army companies guard the unloading.

10 February 1945:
While discharging her gasoline cargo at Shimotsu Oil Depot, one crew member dies by inhaling poisoning gas fumes.

11 February 1945:
LtGen Saeki Bunro of Army Shipping Headquarters presents the “Bukoshoki” banner of honor to Captain Urabe Takeshi and SERIA MARU’s crew for an extraordinary brilliant military exploit. [2]

The Shipping Section of the Imperial Army General Staff sends one of the last remaining bottles of Suntory Whiskey remaining in all of Japan ("a treasure in a bottle" by that time) to Grand Escort Headquarters in sincere gratitude. [3]

Early March 1945:
Kobe. Dry-docked at Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. Zosensho. During docking period, Captain Urabe is relieved by Captain Harada Yoshisaburo, most of SERIA MARU’s crew is also relieved. After finishing repairs, it was intended for SERIA MARU to sail once more to Singapore, but the American invasion of Okinawa made further sailings impossible. Finally, SERIA MARU sailed to Kure where she stayed in readiness for some time.

As there was no more employment for large tankers, it was planned to convert SERIA MARU into a cargo carrier. For this reason, she sailed to Harima Zosen K.K., Aioi, Hyogo Prefecture. Due to continous air raids, she took shelter at Sakoshi Bay (34-46N, 134-27E), southwest of Aioi.

28 July 1945:
Near Aioi. Attacked by Task Force 38 carrier aircraft and beached at 34-01N, 131-25E.

E 1946:
Salved and repaired after the war. Enjoyed a long post-war career.

Authors' Notes:
[1] The exact identity of the kaikoban is unclear. It could be CD-9 or CD-19.

[2] SERIA MARU was one of the very few Japanese merchant ships ever to receive the “Bukoshoki” banner of honor - the highest award granted to Imperial Japanese merchant ships in WWII. The banner was presented with the following certificate of merit:

“By continous excellent performance and navigational skill the SERIA MARU greatly responds to our nation´s demands. The outstanding co-operation of the crew members and their captain in the face of death shall serve as an example for others. Therefore, as a commendation this certificate of merit together with the banner of honour is presented.”

[3] From Kaijo Goei Sen ("The Maritime Protection War") by Oi Atushi as quoted in "The Japanese Merchant Marine in World War Two II" by Mark P. Parillo.

-Special thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany for information about Senpaku Un'eikai, Rikugun Haitosen, some of SERIA MARU's movements and the award of the banner of honor.

- Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

Back to the Oilers Page