© 2002 Anthony P. Tully
The German turbo-electric liner SCHARNHOST, "marooned" and trapped in Kobe since the start of WW II in 1939, is purchased by the Japanese Government for possible use as troop transport. However, following the Midway disaster, these plans are changed in preference of conversion to an escort carrier to train carrier pilot replacements.
30 June 1942:
Transferred to Kure.
21 September 1942:
Enters drydock at Kure Navy Yard just vacated by completed "cousin" CVE CHUYO, and as the SCHARNHORST was of similar form to the NITTA MARU (CHUYO), the plans were adopted for an analogous refit. Conversion to escort carrier begins, using steel taken from the cancelled hull of the fourth YAMATO-class battleship, Hull No. 111. Bulges are added to the liner hull to increase stability, and a retractable radar and control room forward built into the sides of the new flight deck. Interestingly, the turbo-electric turbines were retained, one of only two vessels in the IJN and requiring for SHINYO the largest crew of the escort carriers. The Wagner high-pressure boiler arrangement was too complex however, and was replaced by water-cooled boilers.
1 November 1943:
Conversion completed, runs trials and makes shake-down voyage. Photograph taken.
15 November 1943:
Taken over from the builders and commissioned; assigned to Kure Naval District Force.
16 December 1943:
Captain Ishii Shizue assigned as commanding officer.
20 December 1943:
Assigned to Grand Surface Escort Force Headquarters Force, and is under the operational command of CinC Combined Fleet until 18 February 1944.
21 December 1943:
18 February 1944:
Subsequently training and standing-by in home waters.
26 June 1944:
Depart Kure for short time, return.
6 July 1944:
Depart Kure after having light AA increased from 42 to 50 - 25mm.
11 July 1944:
Arrive Mutsure on assignment to rendevous with convoy HI-69.
12 July 1944:
Depart Mutsure in advance of TAIYO and KAIYO who depart the next day with planes to be ferryied to Manila.
13 July 1944:
Depart Moji escorting the giant convoy HI-69 to Singapore. Convoy under command of Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu of the Eigth Escort Convoy and consists of fourteen marus and escort carriers TAIYO and KAIYO bound for Manila and Singapore. Escorts are light cruiser KASHII, CHIBURI, SADO, and CDs No. 7 and No. 17. The TAIYO and KAIYO are loaded with aircraft for Luzon, so the SHINYO has the air patrol duty.
20 July 1944:
Arrive at Manila. TAIYO and KAIYO begin unloading aircraft.
25 July 1944:
SHINYO departs Manila escorting convoy section bound for Singapore, while TAIYO detaches and heads for Saei, Formosa. The KAIYO remains behind, to depart for Takao the 26th with convoy MA-MO No. 1.
31 July 1944:
Arrive with scheduled section at Singapore.
4 August 1944:
Depart Singapore with convoy HI-70 for Moji, consisting of eight Marus, light cruisers KASHII and KITAKAMI, and screen of SHIMOTSUKI, CHIBURI, SADO, and CD's No. 13 and No. 19.
15 August 1944:
HI-70 arrives at Moji.
16 August 1944:
SHINYO arrives at Kure.
8 September 1944:
Depart Moji with AKITSUSHIMA escorting convoy HI-75 to Singapore, composed of nine Marus, and screened by KANJU, MIYAKE, MANJU, and DesDiv 30 (YUZUKI, UZUKI).
13 November 1944:
Arrive at Takao, Formosa; depart later same day for Singapore.
17 September 1944:
- AKITSUSHIMA, a maru, and DesDiv 30 detach and head for Manila.
22 September 1944:
Arrive at Singapore.
25 September 1944:
Go alongside shore at Singapore port loading fuel and unloading cargo.
3 October 1944:
Depart Singapore escorting convoy HI-76 for return to Moji with nine Marus escorted by KANJU, MANJU, MIYAKE, KURAHASHI, No. 28, and HIYODORI.
15 October 1944:
Captain Ishii is promoted to rank of Rear Admiral.
19 October 1944:
Stop at Miehara, convoy on stand-by there today and the 20th.
21 October 1944:
Depart Miehara stopover; convoy headed for homeland.
24 October 1944:
Arrive at Saeki air base, base and aviation force crews taken aboard and returned to force.
25 October 1944:
Depart Saeki, arrive at Kure.
26 October 1944:
HI-76 arrives at Moji.
27-28 October 1944:
Load fuel and food at Kure.
29-30 October 1944:
Loading ammunition and arms supplies at Kure.
7 November 1944:
Ordered to meet and cover the JUNYO returning from Philippine waters.
9 November 1944:
Upon assignment of SHINYO to the important Luzon re-inforcement convoy HI-81, fourteen Kates of the 931 Air Squadron fly out from Saeki Naval Air Station and land on SHINYO.
13 November 1944:
Arrive at Imari Bay for air cover duty of convoy HI-81.
14 November 1944:
Depart Imari Bay escorting Convoy HI-81 for Singapore with elements of the 23rd Infantry Division to separate and proceed to Luzon via stopover at Formosa. Commanding the convoy is Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu of the Eighth Escort Convoy aboard flagship ETOROFU. Screen includes TSUSHIMA, DAITO, KUME, SHONAN, escrot destroyer KASHI, and CDs No.9 and No. 61. Convoy includes SHINSHU, KIBITSU, AKITSU, MIRII, ARITA, HASHIDATE, KIMIKAWA, MAYASAN, OTOWASAN, and TOA MARU.
Overnight stop off Goto Island.
15 November 1944:
Morning: depart anchorage off Goto Island and head south in the lee of Goto Island's west shore. Convoy scheduled to split into sections at Formosa and proceed to Manila and Singapore respectively. The SHINYO takes up position at the rear of the center of three columns of vessels.
1156: AKITSU MARU struck by two torpedoes fired by USS QUEENFISH on port side aft and amidships. Explodes, keels over and sinks in position 33-17'N, 32-00'E with the loss of over 2,000 aboard. SHINYO's planes attempt to locate and destroy the submarine, but with no result.
Note: USS BARB (SS-220) is credited by Clay Blair and other sources with a torpedo attack on SHINYO this same afternoon. However, the target was a "Katsuragi-class" carrier with island and was north-bound , not with a convoy but with three ships including cruiser. Accordingly, it seems more likely this target was in fact the north-bound carrier JUNYO (see TROM).
16 November 1944:
HI-81 and SHINYO anchor off Korea near Strange Island to shelter and spend the day there. The same day, a second convoy - MI-27 - comprised of eight Marus and five escorts under the command of CD No. 134 departs Moji and is slated to stay in close company with HI-81. At times, this will result in two convoys close together, and at other times one huge one, causing some confusion among allied sighting reports.
17 November 1944:
0800: SHINYO and HI-81 get underway for the Shushan Islands near Shanghai, and SHINYO launches aircraft for patrol throughout the day. At 1215: One enemy B-29 sighted when in position 34-08'N, 125-39'E. SHINYO's Kates are frustrated and unable to climb to destroy the snooper. But no enemy activity ensues and the day passes without incident. However, at 1815 just as SHINYO is landing her last airborne patrol, directly in front of her the MAYASAN MARU is torpedoed and sunk by USS PICUDA (SS-382) with the loss of over 3,000 men.
2303: When about 200 kilometers southwest of Saishu Island, struck by a (claimed) total of four torpedoes in the starboard side of six fired by USS SPADEFISH (SS-411). The submarine had brazenly attacked on the surface, and remained so throughout. The first torpedo hit the stern, instantly disabling the turbo-electric motors and stopping the carrier. The impact detonated the poorly protected av-gas tanks and caused a tremendous explosion and fire. Other hits followed, and SHINYO burst into a blazing inferno and began to list rapidly to starboard and settle aft. She fell out of the convoy formation at once and contact with her was lost, though escort destroyer KASHI counter-attacked the submarine with uncertain results. (It also appears that SPADEFISH's second salvo of four-stern tubes damaged the large SHINSHU MARU to starboard of the SHINYO).
Sunk: Within a few short time (see Discussion Note) her bow reared skyward and she sank stern-first, coming to rest in 23 fathoms with flaming bow still projecting from the water. Position was 32-59'N, 123-38'E. Due to inferno and rapidity of her sinking, and delay in rescue, casualties were very high. Apparently fewer than 200 survivors were rescued, and Rear Admiral Ishii and more than 700 petty officers and men were lost.
18 November 1944:
It appears that no one immediately went to the assistence of the SHINYO or attempted rescue. First to respond was the Commander of MI-27 convoy aboard CD No. 134 who at 0220 ordered CD No. 61 to locate and assist the SHINYO. At 0315 9,000 meters south of the sinking TSUSHIMA attacked and depth charged with fifteen depth-charges an enemy submarine, which on basis of fuel oil and other debris, was claimed sunk in a report at 0426. TSUSHIMA was then heading to catch up with the convoy, but at 0800 Rear Admiral Sato aboard ETOROFU ordered the TSUSHIMA to suspend her course to rejoin and proceed to the "scene of the disaster to the SHINYO-CVE, and take on board survivors". From this, it seems that SHINYO survivors were not rescued till late morning, and the rescuing ships were TSUSHIMA and CD No.61.
1600: HI-81 arrives at "Raffles Island anchorage" east of Shanghai and awaits the rescue escorts to rejoin.
21 Novmeber 1944:
The all-clear given, HI-81 departs for Mako, accompanied by two marus of shattered MI-27.
23 November 1944:
The convoy splits into two sections, one headed for Singapore via Mako and the other for Luzon via Takao. The Singapore contingent arrives at Mako that same evening.
26 November 1944
The Luzon contingent of HI-81 arrives at Takao with TSUSHIMA and DAITO. Some proceed to Luzon the next day.
27 November 1944:
Second section of HI-81 departs Mako for Singapore, screened by ETOROFU, KUME, CDs No.9 and No.61, and escort destroyer KASHI. En route, CD No. 61 was ordered to proceed ahead independently for Singapore. (This may or may not indicate that she carried SHINYO's survivors).
4 December 1944:
HI-81 arrives at Singapore.
10 January 1945:
SHINYO removed from Navy List.
In the second matter, the losses are also unclear. Reportedly, some 700+ perished, but as usual, there is some discrepancy as to how many were actually aboard when sunk. Original complement was 948 officers and men, but this contracted slightly when the 33-aircraft assigned were halved. On 31 July 1944 the SHINYO's complement was 883 officers and men. By October 1944 - just a week before her loss, her War Diary listed 54 officers and 771 petty officers and men aboard - a reduction to 825, but this number might have changed slightly for the November voyage. Not even counting possible passengers then, survivors of the crew could have been as few as 130 to 200 men. The rescue ships appear to be CD No. 61 and possibly) TSUSHIMA. It may be significant that CD No. 61 was subsequently ordered to go ahead of the others to Singapore, while TSUSHIMA ultimately proceeded to Takao.
- A.P. Tully