(SUWA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014 Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 2

28 October 1912:
Nagasaki. Laid down by Mitsubishi G.K. shipyard for Nippon Yusen K.K. (NYK) as a 10,927-ton passenger/cargo ship.

29 March 1914:
Launched and named SUWA MARU.

10 September 1914:
Completed and registered in Tokyo. Her Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) and Net Registered Tonnage (NRT) respectively are 10,927-tons and 6,863-tons [1].

Her NRT is changed to 6,817-tons.

18 May 1920:
Departs Yokohama.

Early Summer 1921:
At Seattle, sustains a fire that severely damages the first class cabins. Arrives later at Nagasaki to undergo extensive repairs.

Her GRT and NRT are respectively changed to 10,672-tons and 6,673-tons.

Her NRT is changed to 6,674-tons.

23 February 1923:
Arrives at Kobe.

Her NRT is changed to 6,637-tons.

24 March 1930:
Departs Marseilles, France.

24 April 1930:
Arrives at Yokohama.

14 May 1932:
Arrives at Kobe.

26 October 1933:
Arrives at Yokohama.

Placed on the Yokohama ~ London line. (Yokohama ~ Nagoya ~ Osaka ~ Kobe (departure date 30 May) ~ Moji ~ Shanghai, China ~ Hong Kong ~ Singapore, Malaya ~ Penang, Malaya ~ Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) ~ Aden, Yemen ~ Suez, Egypt ~ Port Said, Egypt ~ Naples, Italy ~ Marseilles, France ~ Gibraltar ~ London.

29 August 1937:
Requisitioned by the IJA as Army transport No. 330.

9 January 1938:
Released to her owners.

4 September 1940:
Departs Liverpool, Great Britain.

22 September 1940:
Arrives at Lisbon, Portugal.

30 September 1940:
Departs Lisbon.

October 1940:
Arrives at Cape Town, South Africa.

8 July 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJA as Army transport No. 330.

8 September 1941:
Departs Dairen, Manchuria (now Dalian, northern China).

12 September 1941:
Arrives at Koro-shima, South of Kyushu.

6 October 1941:
Departs Koro-shima.

17 October 1941:
Arrives off China coast. Departs later.

26 October 1941:
Arrives at Canton, southern China. Departs later.

27 October 1941:
Arrives at Tungku (Daiko), northern China.

7 November 1941:
Departs Tungku.

12 November 1941:
Arrives at Ujina, Hiroshima Prefecture.

14 November 1941:
Departs Ujina.

19 November 1941:
Arrives at Kirun, Formosa (now Keelung, Taiwan).

23 November 1941:
Departs Kirun.

24 November 1941:
Arrives at Ujina. Departs there and arrives later at Moji.

26 November 1941:
Departs Moji.

6 December 1941:
Arrives at St. Jacques, French Indochina (now Vung Tau, Vietnam).

13 December 1941:
Departs St. Jacques.

16 December 1941:
Arrives at Kirun. Departs later that day.

17 December 1941:
Arrives at Humen, southern China. Departs later that day.

19 December 1941:
Arrives at Singora, Siam (now Thailand). Departs later.

7 January 1942:
Arrives at Cam Ranh Bay, French Indochina (now Vietnam). Departs later.

12 January 1942:
Arrives at Humen.

15 January 1942:
Departs Humen.

16 January 1942:
Arrives at Hong Kong.

17 January 1942:
Departs Hong Kong.

29 January 1942:
Arrives at Takao (now Kaohsiung), Formosa.

February 1942:
Departs Takao and arrives at Cam Ranh Bay.

18 February 1942: Operation "J" - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
SUWA MARU is attached to Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's (36) Third Fleet, Southern Force, Netherlands East Indies Force in Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo’s (37) Western Java Seizure Force.

At 1000, departs Cam Ranh Bay in a convoy comprised of 56 troop transports. They carry the 2nd Infantry Division for the invasions of Merak, Bantam Bay and Eretan Wetan, Java escorted by light cruisers NATORI, and YURA and DesDivs 5, 6, 11, 12 and 22. Auxiliary seaplane tender SANYO MARU provides air cover.

Forty-five transports go to Merak and Bantam Bay Java. SUWA MARU and six IJA transports: CALCUTTA, HOFUKU, GLASGOW, UCHIDE, YAE and YAMAZUKI MARUs, go to Eretan Wetan.

1 March 1942:
Arrives at Eretan Wetan and proceeds to landings.

5 March 1942:
Departs Eretan Wetan.

9 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

11 March 1942:
Departs Singapore with IJA transport CALCUTTA MARU and possibly others with unknown escort.

March 1942:
SUWA MARU is detached at unknown point and date and proceeds independently to Saigon, French Indochina (now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam).

14 March 1942:
Arrives at Saigon. Departs later that day.

17 March 1942:
Arrives at Hong Kong. Departs later.

March 1942:
Arrives at Takao. Departs there and arrives later at Kirun.

6 April 1942:
Departs Kirun in a convoy also consisting of civilian passenger/cargo (C-APK) AKITSU MARU and IJA transport KASHIMA MARU.

8 April 1942:
NE of Yokoatejima, Tokara Retto, Ryukyus. At 1900, escorted by auxiliary gunboat SHINKYO MARU.

11 April 1942:
Arrives at Moji.

18 April 1942:
Released to her owners.

6 June 1942:
Attached to the Civilian Shipping Administration.

8 August 1942:
Detached from the Shipping Administration. Requisitioned that same day by the IJN.

10 August 1942:
Registered in the IJN as an auxiliary transport, (Otsu) category attached to the Kure Naval District with Kure as homeport under instruction No. 1487.

[2] 20 August 1942:
Departs Osaka.

25 August 1942:
Arrives at Busan (Fuzan), Chosen (now Pusan, South Korea).

28 August 1942:
Departs Busan.

September 1942:
Arrives at Truk, Central Carolines.

11 September 1942:
Departs Truk escorted by destroyer OITE and proceeds to Pingelap Atoll.

13 September 1942:
Arrives back at Truk.

17 September 1942:
Departs Truk.

19 September 1942:
Arrives at Kavieng, New Ireland. Departs later.

20 September 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein, Marshalls.

23 September 1942:
Departs Kwajalein.

1 October 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

5 October 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

8 October 1942:
Arrives at Miike, Fukuoka Prefecture.

10 October 1942:
Departs Miike and arrives at Sasebo later in the day.

12 October 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

13 October 1942:
Arrives at Kure.

15 October 1942:
Departs Kure escorted by patrol boat PB-46 south towards Rabaul, New Britain.

October 1942:
At an unknown date PB-46 is detached.

20 October 1942:
Arrives at Kavieng.

25 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

November 1942:
Captain Imada Kenji is the current Captain.

17 November 1942:
Departs Truk escorted by destroyer YUZUKI.

19 November 1942:
Arrives at Kavieng.

26 November 1942:
Departs Kavieng towing auxiliary transport TONAN MARU No. 2 but towing efforts are unsuccessful and both return to Kavieng later in the day.

[3] 6 December 1942:
A second attempt is made this time successfully, and SUWA MARU leaves Kavieng towing TONAN MARU No. 2.

11 December 1942:
Arrives at Truk. TONAN MARU No. 2 undergoes temporary repairs, probably by fleet repair ship AKASHI.

16 December 1942:
At 0500, departs Truk towing TONAN MARU No. 2 with fleet tug NAGAURA on the starboard side and an unknown tug on the port side, escorted by destroyer YUZUKI.

27 December 1942:
Destroyer YAMAGUMO takes over escort.

30 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama. Separates with TONAN MARU No. 2 and departs later.

2 January 1943:
Arrives at Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture. Departs there and arrives at Yokohama later that day.

E 3 ~ 20 January 1943:
Docked. Undergoes repairs and maintenance.

21 January 1943:
Undocked. Departs Yokohama and arrives at Shibaura, Tokyo later that day.

25 January 1943:
Departs Shibaura and arrives at Yokosuka later in the day. Embarks 511 passengers (replacements) to be offloaded at six different islands with the following breakdown: 54th Naval Guard Unit, 52 – Army replacements, 285 - 5th Communications Unit, 50 – auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 8, two – civilian cargo ship (C-AK) TAMAE MARU, four - Destroyer OITE, 66 – Destroyer YUNAGI, 11 – auxiliary gunboat SHOEI MARU, eight – auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 10, three – SHOTOKO (?) MARU, 10 – auxiliary subchaser SHONAN MARU No. 6, two – [Naval?] Air arsenal, 47 – IJA transport SEISHIN MARU, two – auxiliary minesweeper SEKI MARU No. 3, one – Pay officer, one – Reserve officer, one – Ensigns, 11 – Warrant officers, 13 – Barber, one.

28 January 1943:
Departs Yokosuka escorted by destroyer YAMAGUMO.

29 January 1943:
At 1430, YAMAGUMO ends escort off Nichino-misaki.

31 January 1943:
Arrives at Miike.

2 February 1943:
Departs Miike. Off Sasebo at 1100, meets up with minesweeper W3 as escort.

February 1943:
W-3 has detached at an unknown point and date.

7 February 1943:
At 15-52N, 144-58E destroyer OITE meets up with SUWA MARU that is sailing alone. Later that day arrives at Saipan, Marianas.

14 February 1943:
At 1300, departs Saipan escorted by submarine chaser CH-10.

18 February 1943:
Arrives at Ponape, Eastern Carolines.

20 February 1943:
Departs Ponape.

23 February 1943:
Arrives at Jaluit, Marshalls.

24 February 1943:
Departs Jaluit and arrives at Emiedj, Jaluit later that day.

25 February 1943:
Departs Emiedj and arrives back at Jaluit later that same day.

28 February 1943:
Departs Jaluit.

1 March 1943:
Arrives at Wotje, Marshalls.

2 March 1943:
Departs Wotje escorted by auxiliary subchaser SHONAN MARU No.5.

3 March 1943:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

25 March 1943:
Departs Kwajalein for Wake (renamed Omiya Island after its capture) carrying 1,091 passengers.

28 March 1943:
Off Wake. LtCdr (later Cdr) John A. Scott’s (USNA ’28) USS TUNNY (SS-282) on patrol, closes to within ten miles (16 km) of the Japanese-held island and watches as its awakening occupants turn on their lights. A motor torpedo boat and two patrol boats pass by less than 600 yards (500 m) from the submarine without detecting her presence. Trailing these vessels, USS TUNNY comes upon a large ship, and all hands scramble to battle stations. Shortly after sunrise, the submarine launches her attack, firing two torpedoes from a range of 700 yards (600 m). The first found its mark and hits No. 4 and No. 5 holds, blowing the stern off SUWA MARU, but the buoyancy of the lightly loaded vessel keeps it afloat. The second torpedo also hits the transport but is a dud.

To prevent sinking, SUWA MARU is beached on a reef and abandoned. 15 passengers are KIA. USS TUNNY maneuvers at periscope depth to avoid depth charges dropped across her bow at a range of 300 yards (300 m) when the first of several aerial bombs falls close aboard. The submarine dives to 280 feet (85 m). When she attempts to surface an hour later, USS TUNNY is again driven down by an aerial adversary. Later in the morning, traveling submerged at 150 feet (46 m), she sets her course for her assigned patrol area.

(SUWA MARU’s wreck at Wake Island)

5 April 1943:
Off Wake. LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) John A. Tyree’s (USNA ’33) USS FINBACK (SS-230) attacks and hits SUWA MARU’s wreck.

1 July 1943:
Removed from the Navy’s list under instruction No. 1321.

Authors' Notes :
[1] NRT is a ship's cargo volume capacity expressed in "register tons", one of which equals to a volume of 100 cubic feet (2.83 m3). It is calculated by subtracting non-revenue-earning spaces i.e. spaces not available for carrying cargo, for example engine rooms, fuel tanks and crew quarters, from the ship's gross register tonnage (GRT). Net register tonnage (NRT) is not a measure of the weight of the ship or its cargo, and should not be confused with terms such as deadweight tonnage or displacement.

[2] There were two categories of Zatsuyosen. (Ko) category with an IJN Captain as supervisor aboard and (Otsu) category without.

[3] TONAN MARU No. 2 was damaged off Kavieng harbor by LtCdr John A. Bole’s (USNA’28) USS AMBERJACK (SS-219) on 10 Oct ‘42.

Thanks go to Gengoro S. Toda of Japan. Special thanks go also to John Whitman of Virginia for information on troops carried aboard SUWA MARU.

Gilbert Casse, Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

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