(TSUBAME by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2010 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Erich Muehlthaler.

Tokyo. Laid down at Ishikawajima Shipbuilding as a 720-ton SOKUTEN-class minelayer.

15 April 1938:
Launched and named SHIRAKAMI.

25 April 1939:
Completed and registered in the Yokosuka Naval District.

1 November 1941:
At anchor at Ominato. Assigned to Ominato Defense Corps at the Ominato Guard Station.

2 December 1941:
Departs Ominato. Lays mines in Tairadate Strait, Aomori Prefecture.

9 December 1941:
Hokkaido. Seizes 5,138 ton British cargo ship HATTERLOCK at Hakodate harbor.

15 December 1941:
Departs Ominato. Conducts patrols in Tsugaru Strait.

18 February 1942:
SHIRAKAMI departs Ominato after embarking staff officers of the Ominato Guard Station on an inspection tour of coastal gun batteries at Akkeshi, SE coast of Hokkaido.

22 February 1942:
Arrives at Ominato.

25 February 1942:
Departs Ominato. Conducts training and patrols.

20 April 1942:
Departs Ominato. Conducts minesweeping at Akkeshi Bay and also lay new mines.

4 May 1942:
Departs Ominato. Conducts training and patrols in Mutsu Bay.

July 1942:
Reserve Lieutenant Hirata Nobuo is appointed Commanding Officer.

1 August 1942:
SSE of Shiriya-saki, Aomori Prefecture. At 0530, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles W. Wilkins' NARWHAL (SS-167) attacks steamer OTORI MARU (ex-Panamanian BOYACA) and fires two torpedoes. The first prematures and warns the target. OTORI MARU zizags and the second torpedo misses. Ninety minute later, Wilkins fires three torpedoes that sink steamer MEIWA MARU at 41-12N, 141-36E (12 nautical miles SSE of Shiriya-saki. At 0915, another torpedo from NARWHAL hits small tanker KOAN MARU port side foreship, but there is only a muffled explosion, perhaps caused by a dud torpedo. KOAN MARU sustains only slight damage and is able to make Hakodate by her own power.

At 0700, destroyers KAMIKAZE and NOKAZE and some patrol planes from Ominato Naval Air Group (NAG) are ordered to head for the attack area. Later in the morning, SHIRAKAMI, with the Commander-in-Chief of the Tsugaru Defense Force on board, departs Ominato and proceeds at full speed to the attack area.

More and more ships arrive on the scene. Finally, co-ordinated by SHIRAKAMI, nine vessels and several planes comb a rectangular area between Shiriya-saki Lighthouse and Shiranuka Lighthouse. During the day, an aircraft discovers an oil patch and guides several vessel to this spot.

The ships make a long and thorough sweep and drop a large number of depth charges. After a while, most of the vessels are short of depth charges. Therefore, minelayer KUROSAKI is ordered to haul 52 depth charges from Ominato and to supply the vessels on the open sea. NARWHAL evades 124 depth charges and escapes.

5 August 1942:
In the evening, Ominato Headquarters decides that the enemy sub must have been sunk and the sweeping operation is stopped.

SHIRAKAMI, now based at Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, conducts further anti-submarine sweeps and convoy escorts.

6 October 1942:
Departs Ominato. Lays mine barrage off Shiranuka.

17 November 1942:
Attached to Soya (Strait) Area Force (Soya Homen Butai). Escorts ferries between Wakkanai, N coast of Hokkaido and Otomari, S coast of Karafuto (South Sakhalin).

26 November 1942:
Reassigned from the Soya Area Force to the Tsugaru Force.

28 November 1942:
Arrives at Ominato.

7 December 1942:
Departs Ominato. Conducts patrols and engages in convoy escort duties.

15 December 1942:
Departs Ominato. Conducts anti-submarine sweeps while based at Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture.

8 March 1943:
At 0800, minesweeper W-24 departs Muroran escorting KENAN, SHINFUKU, HOKUYO, ATAKA and FUKUJU MARUs and two unidentified ships. At noon, the ships arrive off Komui-saki (a.k.a Furutakei-saki). At this place, two more ships join the convoy: HISASHIMA MARU from Hakodate and KONSAN MARU from nearby Komui Bay. The convoy receives the designation 2308 and departs for the Tokyo-Yokohama area. From 1400, SHIRAKAMI and auxiliary KEISHU MARU No. 3 provide distant cover.

At 1530, when it arrives at a point 75 degrees 3 nautical miles from Shiriya-zaki, the convoy alters course and proceeds toward Monomi-saki.

At 1645, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Wreford G. Chapple´s PERMIT (SS-178) attacks the rear section of the convoy and torpedoes HISASHIMA MARU. He gets two hits that sink her at 41-16N 141-29E (15 km S of Shiriya-saki and 2 km from the shore). W-24 immediately carries out a depth charge attack. PERMIT evades and sets course back to Midway. HOKUYO MARU rescues survivors and then proceeds to Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture. The rest of the convoy retreats to Yamada Port.

3 April 1943:
Off Shiranuka Lighthouse, Aomori Prefecture. LtCdr Augustus H. Alston's USS PICKEREL (SS-177) sinks subchaser CH-13 at 40-03N, 141-58E.

4 April 1943:
In the afternoon, an enemy submarine, probably PICKEREL, is discovered off Shiranuka by a patrol plane from Ominato NAG which is covering a convoy. The aircraft directs SHIRAKAMI and auxiliary subchaser BUNZAN MARU to the spot and requests additional air support. Following her arrival, SHIRAKAMI first drops nine and then nine more depth charges. At 1729, she drops the final pattern of five depth charges. A large quantity of oil floats to the surface. [1]

7 June 1943:
Departs Ominato. Lays mine barrage off Muroran and Shiranuka.

22 June 1943:
At 0825, SHUNSHO MARU (6190 grt ) is missed by torpedoes from an enemy submarine at 332 degrees 5 nautical miles from Esan-misaki, Hokkaido. About 90 minutes later, picket boat HANJIN MARU arrives on the spot and starts seraching for the enemy. At 1100, minelayer ASHIZAKI and three other vessels gather off Esan-misaki. At 1330, near the spot where SHUNSHO MARU was attacked, ASHIZAKI discovers an enemy periscope. Immediately, ASHIZAKI closes the range and drops depth charges. Thereafter, a small quantity of oil is seen on the surface. Until evening, a total of eight ships comb the sea between Muroran and Shiriya-saki.

Earlier that day, at 1156, a patrol plane from Ominato NAG discovered an enemy submarine at a point 43 degrees 4 nautical miles from Shiranuka. The aircraft called for additional air support and surface units. Until arrival of the surface units the planes carry out repeated attacks. The first vessels to arrive on the spot at 1300 are SHIRAKAMI and picket boat MIYA MARU. Aircraft and surface units carry out co-ordinated attacks. During daytime, a total of 24 planes conduct attacks and two planes attack after sunset. The planes drop a total of 46 60kg and 13 250kg bombs (total 59). The number of depth charges expended by surface units is: SHIRAKAMI: 44, BUNSAN MARU: 12, MINAKAMI MARU: 4, MIYA MARU: 4 and KAIWA MARU: 2 (total 66).

During the attacks, Commander Sasaki Akira, a staff officer of the 12th Air Fleet, personally rides in one of the planes as an observer. While flying over the attack area at an altitude of 200 meters, Cdr Sasaki discovers an oil patch.

23 June 1943:
The oil patch is reported to be still in place without any trail of an escaping submarine. At 0845, SHIRAKAMI conducts a depth-charge attack. At 0925, she conducts a second attack and then departs to replenish her depth-charges. The search is terminated and a claim is made for a confirmed sinking of an enemy submarine (perhaps LtCdr John H. Bourland's USS RUNNER, SS-275). [2]

27 July 1943:
Departs Ominato. Lays mines in Soya Strait.

29 June 1943:
Departs Ominato. Lays mine barrage off Hachinohe.

30 June 1943:
Lt Tajima Taro is appointed Commanding Officer.

23 August 1943:
Arrives at Otaru. Engages in convoy escort duties.

10 September 1943:
Arrives at Ominato. Conducts patrols in Mutsu Bay.

30 September 1943:
Undergoes engine repairs at Ominato.

10 October 1943:
Departs Ominato. Conducts minesweeping.

13 October 1943:
Departs Hakodate. Escorts a convoy between Hakodate and Hachinohe.

5 November 1943:
Departs Ominato. Lays mines in Tsugaru Strait.

9 November 1943:
Arrives at Hachinohe.

25 November 1943:
Departs Hachinohe.

26 November 1943:
Arrives at Ominato.

12 December 1943:
Departs Ominato. Escorts convoys between Hakodate and Hachinohe.

1 February 1944:
Re-assigned to Yokosuka Naval District.

8 February 1944:
Departs Ominato escorting a merchant ship to Hitokappu Bay, Etorofu Island.

11 February 1944:
Both ships arrive at Hitokappu Bay.

13 February 1944:
Both ships depart Hitokappu Bay.

20 February 1944:
Both ships arrive at Ominato.

24 February 1944:
Lt Saruwatari Noboru's SHIRAKAMI departs Ominato escorting 6,503-GRT army transport NICHIRAN MARU to Uruppu Island.

29 February 1944:
Both ships arrive at Uruppu Island. SHIRAKAMI conducts patrols.

2 March 1944:
A gale forces the two ships to shelter in Tsurigane Bay, N coast of Uruppu. Despite the heavy weather SHIRAKAMI tries to maintain patrol duty.

3 March 1944:
S of the Kuriles, off Yoshino-hama close to the NE tip of South Uruppu Island. SHIRAKAMI and NICHIRAN MARU collide in heavy weather at 46-11N, 150-30E. SHIRAKAMI suffers a huge hole while NICHIRAN MARU gets away with only slight damage. Due to the stormy weather, towage of SHIRAKAMI is impossible.

5 March 1944:
S of Uruppu, anti-damage control measures are to no avail and SHIRAKAMI breaks apart and sinks at about 45-30N, 150-00E. Some 70 crew are rescued. [3]

10 May 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Author's Notes:
[1] USS PICKEREL (SS-177) was lost during this her seventh patrol. According to the history of the Ominato Guard District, a total of 53 depth charges and 23 aerial bombs were expended during this hunt.

PICKEREL is credited with sinking cargo ship FUKUEI MARU on 7 Apr '43. If so, she must have survived the depth charging. The cause of PICKEREL's loss is still unknown.

[2] RUNNER, SS-275) was lost during this patrol, her third. The cause of RUNNER's loss is unknown.

[3] Sources conflict regarding the loss of SHIRAKAMI. According to some sources, the collision took place in Miyako Bay, Honshu Bay, while the other ship has been identified as HAKURAN (or possibly BYAKURAN) MARU. The date also varies from 3 to 5 Mar '44.

-Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Erich Muehlthaler.

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