(SHOHEI MARU prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2015 Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 1

3 June 1930:
Tama. Laid down by Mitsui Bussan K.K. Zosembu Kojo shipyard as a 7,255-ton cargo ship for Shimatani Kisen K.K., Kobe.

24 January 1931:
Launched and named SHOHEI MARU.

25 March 1931:
Completed and registered in Kobe.

E April 1931:
Chartered to Mitsui Bussan K.K. on their North America routes.

E 1937:
Calls at Rangoon, Burma (now Yangon, Myanmar) and in United Kingdom.

12 September 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJN as a transport (Ippan Choyosen). [1]

14 September 1941:
Docks at Kure naval arsenal to start the conversion to her military duty.

20 September 1941:
Registered in the IJN as an auxiliary transport under internal order No. 1093 and attached to the Kure Naval District as an auxiliary transport, (Ko) category. Her home port is Kure. Captain Tanaka Masaji (34) is posted Commanding Officer. [2]

6 October 1941:
The conversion is completed.

E October-November 1941:
Departs Kure. Arrives at Yokosuka at an unknown date.

15 November 1941:
Departs Yokosuka.

E November-December 1941:
Operates in the South Seas area (mandated Islands).

23 December 1941:
Departs Truk carrying 656 construction troops to Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands escorted by subchaser CH-17 and DesDiv 5's HATAKAZE.

E December 1941:
Arrives at Tarawa. Disembarks construction troops.

E January-February 1942:
Operates in the South Seas area.

10 February 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

15 February 1942:
Departs Yokohama for Miike.

19 February 1942:
Arrives at Miike.

21 February 1942:
Departs Miike for Kure.

24 February 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

1 March 1942:
Departs Kure.

20 April 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

24 April 1942:
Departs Moji.

28 April 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

6 May 1942:
Departs Kure.

4 July 1942:
Arrives at Osaka.

8 July 1942:
Departs Osaka and arrives that same day at Kobe.

13 July 1942:
Departs Kobe.

25 July 1942:
Arrives at Kirun, Formosa (now Keelung, Taiwan).

30 July 1942:
Departs Kirun for Takao, Formosa (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan).

31 July 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

2 August 1942:
Departs Takao.

6 October 1942:
Arrives at Shimizu, Shikuoka Prefecture.

9 October 1942:
Departs Shimizu for Tamano.

10 October 1942:
Arrives at Tamano. Departs later and arrives that same day at Moji.

11 October 1942:
Comes alongside auxiliary transport KOFUKU MARU that transfers her supplies.

20 November 1942:
Departs Tamano for Kure.

21 November 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

25 November 1942:
Departs Kure transporting the 111th Naval Construction Unit and related supplies and equipment.

26 November 1942:
Arrives at Osaka.

30 November 1942:
Departs Osaka for Shibaura, Tokyo.

3 December 1942:
Arrives at Shibaura.

10 December 1942:
At 1000, SHOHEI MARU departs Shibaura for Kwajalein, Marshalls with auxiliary transport SHOAN MARU escorted by auxiliary minesweepers SHONAN MARU No. 3 and TAMA MARU No. 3. Between them, the two transports carry 1700 men of the 1st Pioneer Corps.

19 December 1942:
At 1200, destroyer ASANAGI joins the convoy near Jaluit, Marshalls.

20 December 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein. Departs later with SHOAN MARU for Tarawa, Gilberts.

23 December 1942:
Arrives at Tarawa. Disembarks all troops and related supplies and equipment. Both ships depart later for Kwajalein.

26 December 1942:
At 0500, both SHOAN MARU and SHOHEI MARU arrive back at Kwajalein. Later, they make further trips to Tarawa.

17 January 1943:
Departs Tarawa for Kobe.

29 January 1943:
Arrives at Kobe.

6 February 1943:
Departs Kobe for Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

7 February 1943:
Arrives at Tokuyama. Probably replenishes fuel.

12 February 1943:
Departs Tokuyama for Takao.

17 February 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

19 February 1943:
Departs Takao.

21 March 1943:
Departs Macassar for Pomaala, Celebes (now Sulawesi) to load nickel escorted by auxiliary minesweeper SHONAN MARU No.2.

7 July 1943:
At 0800 minesweeper W-16 departs Tarakan escorting transport SHOHEI MARU and at 1911 anchors at Berau River estuary. SHOHEI MARU had apparently detached by this time.

13 July 1943:
Departs Balikpapan, Borneo.

13 July 1943:
Departs Balikpapan in a convoy also consisting of SHOHEI and KORYU MARUs escorted by minesweeper W-16 and auxiliary gunboat OKUYO MARU.

E 14 July 1943:
SHOHEI MARU and OKUYO MARU are detached for Surabaya.

E 16 July 1943:
Arrives at Surabaya, Java.

26 July 1943:
SHOHEI MARU’s owners change to Mitsui Senpaku K.K.

17 September 1943:
Arrives at Saint Jacques, Indochina (now Vung Tau, Vietnam).

20 September 1943:
Departs Saint Jacques for Niihama, Shikoku.

27 September 1943:
Merchant Captain Oe Iwajiro assumes command.

1 October 1943:
Captain Takasaki Takeo (former CO of NARUTO MARU) assumes command.

6 October 1943:
Arrives at Niihama.

8 October 1943:
Merchant Captain Shirane Toshio assumes command.

10 October 1943:
Departs Niihama for Osaka.

11 October 1943:
Arrives at Osaka.

28 October 1943:
Departs Osaka for Tokuyama.

29 October 1943:
Arrives at Tokuyama. Probably replenishes fuel.

2 November 1943:
Departs Tokuyama for Kobe.

3 November 1943:
Arrives at Kobe.

8 November 1943:
Departs Kobe for Kure.

9 November 1943:
Arrives at Kure.

13 November 1943:
Departs Kure and arrives later that same day at Moji.

15 November 1943:
Departs Moji in convoy No. 114 also consisting of YASUKUNI, SHINNO, BIZEN, SYDNEY and NORWAY MARUs and tankers TONAN and ZUIYO MARUs together with two unidentified ships escorted by kaibokan KANJU.

20 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

23 November 1943:
Departs Takao for Camranh Bay, Indochina in convoy No. 340 also consisting of SYDNEY, TONAN, SEKINO, YASUKUNI, ZUIYO, SHINNO MARUs, unknown ship UNKAI MARU No ?, Vichy French coaster BERYL and five unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan MATSUWA.

25 November 1943:
At 1200, an unidentified ship is detached for Hong Kong.

26 November 1943:
At 1200, YASUKUNI MARU and two unidentified ships are detached for Yulin.

28 November 1943:
At about 0200, Cdr Frederick C. Lucas' (USNA ’30) USS BILLFISH (SS-286) picks up the convoy heading south at nine knots seven miles off Cape Varella (now Mui Ke Ga, Vietnam). Lucas signals Cdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Walter T. Griffith's (USNA ’34) USS BOWFIN (SS-287) about the convoy. Griffith, three miles off Cape Varella, receives sister-ship USS BILLFISH's signal and USS BOWFIN begins tracking the convoy on the surface.

Off Ninh Hoa’s coast, about 35 nms N Camranh Bay, At 0412, USS BOWFIN torpedoes and scores two hits on SYDNEY MARU’s port stern and one hit on tanker TONAN MARU’s starboard side at 12-50N, 109-35E.

At 0415, SYDNEY MARU, carrying 4996 cubic meters of aircraft spare parts and 895-tons of trade cargo for Singapore, is hit again on her starboard side. At 0417, she sinks with the loss of 43 men. TONAN MARU gradually floods. At 0530, she founders taking down 84 men.

BERYL, that may not have been in the convoy at this point, attempts to ram the submarine, but is hit by two torpedoes and sinks. USS BOWFIN attacks another merchant, but is hit aft and damaged by a shell from the merchant's 12-cm gun. Griffith is able to escape further damage. Later, the convoy is joined by subchaser CH-9 and ordered to seek shelter. Soon thereafter, it puts into Camranh Bay.

30 November 1943:
At 0945 departs Camranh Bay for Singapore, Macassar, Surabaya and Balikpapan.

20 December 1943:
Arrives at Surabaya.

28 December 1943:
At Balikpapan.

5 January 1944:
At 1545, about 15 nms S of Bintang Island, south of Singapore. SHOHEI MARU claims to have sustained a torpedo hit from an unidentified submarine in No. 2 hold, at 00-42N, 104-30E. [3]

7 January 1944:
At 1900, arrives at Singapore. Probably drydocks for repairs as no vessel traffic is noted until Mar ‘44.

15 March 1944:
At 1000, departs Singapore in convoy HI-50 also consisting of transports SANUKI and USSURI MARUs, tankers MANEI, OKIGAWA, EIHO and MEDAN MARUs and four unidentified ships escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE and kaibokan SADO. [4]

18 March 1944:
At 1600, arrives at Saint Jacques.

20 March 1944:
At 1500, departs Saint Jacques.

24 March 1944:
At 1900, arrives at Manila.

27 March 1944:
At 1400, departs Manila.

30 March 1944:
At 1030 arrives at Takao.

1 April 1944:
At 1600, departs Takao for Mako, Pescadores.

2 April 1944:
Arrives at Mako. Tanker KUROSHIO MARU joins the convoy. [5]

4 April 1944:
Departs Mako.

E 5 April 1944:
Transport ORYOKU MARU joins from Kirun. [6]

E 8 April 1944:
SHOHEI MARU is detached from the convoy and heads for Miike.

9 April 1944:
Arrives at Miike.

15 April 1944:
Departs Miike for Kobe.

16 April 1944:
Arrives at Kobe.

20 April 1944:
Departs Kobe for Kure.

21 April 1944:
Arrives at Kure.

23 April 1944:
Departs Kure for Sasebo.

24 April 1944:
Arrives at Sasebo.

28 April 1944:
Departs Sasebo with 850 troops aboard, depth-charges, mines, guns and AA ammunition.

E 29 April 1944:
Arrives at Moji.

1 May 1944:
Departs Moji for Manila via Takao in convoy MI-03 also consisting of cargo ships NIKKO, ETAJIMA, DAIJUN, SHINNO, TOUN, KANKYO, DAITEN, RYUKA (YANAGIGAWA), KENWA and TAISEI MARUs, SHINSEI MARU No. 1, tankers CHIYODA, ZUIYO, KOTOKU and SHUNTEN MARUs, EIYO MARU No. 2 and OGURA MARU No. 2 and UNKAI MARU No. 5 escorted by destroyers SHIOKAZE, KARUKAYA, kaibokan CD-1, CD-13 and CH-37, torpedo boat HATO, auxiliary gunboat PEKING MARU and other unidentified warships.

7 May 1944:
The convoy arrives at Takao and departs later that same day for Manila.

9 May 1944:
Kaibokan KURAHASHI probably joins the escort.

10 May 1944:
About 27 nms Luzon’s west coast, off Masinloc. LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) James C. Dempsey’s (USNA ’31) USS COD (SS-224) attacks the large convoy. At 0647, USS COD torpedoes destroyer KARUKAYA. Her stacks collapse and she sags amidships, her back broken. A second torpedo hits her fantail. At 0655, she sinks at 15-47N, 119-32E. 13 crewmen are KIA and 60 MIA, not including her CO, Lt Shimada.

At 0655, Dempsey torpedoes SHOHEI MARU in her starboard bow. The transport gradually floods. At 0730, after a big explosion, SHOHEI MARU sinks at 15-38N, 119-32E taking down 12 passengers and eight crewmen.

10 July 1944:
Removed from the Navy List under internal order No. 855.

Authors Notes:
[1] See Zatsuyosen home page for full explanation.
[2] There were two categories of Zatsuyosen. (Ko) category with an IJN Captain as supervisor aboard and (Otsu) category without.
[3] No submarine attack is mentioned in the Allied records. Allied codebreakers attribute the damage to a drifting mine.
[4] The inclusion of SHOHEI MARU in this fast convoy suggests that an engine overhaul occurred while she was drydocked for repairs.
[5] Different sources show KUROSHIO MARU joining this convoy at St Jacques, Manila or Mako.
[6] It is unclear whether the total number of ships in HI-50 is at the point the convoy left Singapore or arrived in Empire waters. Therefore, KUROSHIO and ORYOKU MARUs may be two of the four unidentified ships.

Thanks go to Gengoro S. Toda of Japan and to Matthew Jones of Mississippi, USA.

-Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

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