IJN T.103 Class Landing Ship Tank

(T.101 Class Landing Ship Tank by T. Yuki)

IJN LST T.159:
Tabular Record of Movement

2018 Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

5 February 1944.
Numbered T.159. Provisionally attached to Kure Naval District.

10 June 1944:
Mukojima. Laid down at Hitachi K.K. as Hull No. 1559, a 950-ton T.103-class landing ship tank.

8 July 1944:

5 September 1944:
Reserve Lt Shirakawa Hisashi is appointed the Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

16 September 1944:
T.159 is completed, commissioned in the IJN and assigned to Combined Fleet. Lt Shirakawa Hisashi is the CO.

18 September 1944:
Departs Onomichi and arrives at Kure.

20 September 1944:
Loads fuel.

21 September 1944:
The 25-mm AA guns are fitted.

22 September 1944:
Embarks fuel and provisions.

24 September 1944:
Embarks AA gun ammunition.

25 September 1944:
Assigned to 1st Transport Squadron. Completes loading ammunition and fresh water.

26 September 1944:
Departs Kure. Conducts official trials of 25 mm AA guns.

27 September 1944:
Departs Kure. Conducts docking training

28 September 1944:
Arrives back at Kure.

2 October 1944:
Departs Kure. T.159 undergoes steering gear check operation and various training.

3 October 1944:
Arrives at Hashirajima fleet anchorage.

5 October 1944:
T.159 is tasked with transportation of the Second Air Fleet staff officers from Kagoshima to Taiwan. Departs Hashirajima.

6 October 1944:
Arrives at Kagoshima.

7 October 1944:
Embarks 69 Second Air Fleet personnel and about 100 tons of equipment.

8 October 1944:
Embarks three more Second Air Fleet personnel and loads fresh water.

10 October 1944:
Arrives at Yamakawa and departs for Kagoshima.

12 October 1944:
Departs Yamakawa.

13 October 1944:
Arrives at Naha, Okinawa.

16 October 1944:
Departs Naha and arrives at Sesoko Island, N Okinawa.

19 October 1944:
One month earlier, LtCdr Frederick A. Gunn's (USNA 34) USS SCABBARDFISH (SS-397) torpedoed submarine depot ship IJN JINGEI in the bow at 27-35 N, 127-07E. Later, she was towed to shallow ground NE of Naha. Then on 10 October, stationary JINGEI was attacked by aircraft of TG 38.2's USS HANCOCK (CV-19) and sank at 26-39N, 127-52E. 100 men were KIA.

On this date, T.159 departs Sesoko Island and arrives at Nago, Okinawa, where she embarks 12 survivors of JINGEI and lands them at Naha.

24 October 1944:
Departs Naha. At 1335, en route to Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan), T.159 suffers mechanical failure.

25 October 1944:
40 miles off Kirun. LST T.139 takes T.159 under tow. Arrives at Kirun's outer harbor.

26 October 1944:
Assisted by a tugboat, T.159 moors on the coast. Disembarks Second Air Fleet staff and lands material.

29 October 1944:
Loads nine Type 2 "Ka-Mi" amphibious tanks, food and ammunition. Embarks nine members of the Third Southern Expeditionary Fleet and 208 military personnel.

(IJN Type 2 "Ka-Mi" Special Naval Landing Force Amphibious Tank
- Dragon 1/35 scale model)

3 November 1944:
Conducts a post-repairs trial run, then departs Kirun.

7 November 1944:
T.159 receives an order to advance to Manila as soon as possible and join the fleet formation.

8 November 1944:
Departs Kirun for Takao, Formosa (Kaohsiung, Taiwan).

9 November 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

12 November 1944:
At 1800, T.159 departs Takao in convoy TAMA-31B also consisting of MANJU MARU and four unidentified Navy LST's and one Army LST escorted by patrol boat PB-38 and PB-101, minesweeper W-38, subchaser CH-43, auxiliary subchaser SHOWA MARU No. 2 and an unidentified warship.

15 November 1944:
Anchors off W coast of Formosa because of fear of air attack.

19 November 1944:
At 1700, anchors Santiago Island Strait at the mouth of Lingayan Gulf. That evening, the convoy is attacked by 27 Grumman carrier aircraft that inflict only slight damage on the convoy.

20 November 1944:
At 1030, departs Santiago Island Strait.

21 November 1944:
Arrives at the mouth of Manila Bay. By 1730, completes landing tanks.

1 December 1944: "Operation TA No. 7" - The Reinforcement of Leyte:
At about 1800, the third echelon of TA No. 7, consisting of T.159, fast transport T.9 and LST T.140, departs Manila carrying troops and supplies. They are accompanied by destroyer-escorts KUWA (F) and TAKE, also carrying troops and supplies.

2 December 1944:
Squalls enable the convoy to evade air attacks and they arrive off Ormoc Bay, Leyte that night. The convoy completes landing troops and supplies when at midnight, from the south, American DesDiv 120 enters Ormoc Bay consisting of new destroyers USS ALLEN M. SUMNER (DD-692)(F), USS MOALE (DD-693) and USS COOPER (DD-695).

3 December 1944:
At 0008, the Americans take KUWA and TAKE under heavy radar-directed gunfire and quickly reduce KUWA to a burning wreck. The Americans also damage TAKE, but not before she launches two "Long Lance" torpedoes. At 0015, one torpedo hits USS COOPER squarely amidships. COOPER blows up, breaks in two and sinks with 191 of her crew KIA. At about 0020, KUWA also sinks at 10-50N, 124-35E.

4 December 1944:
T.159, fast transport T.9, LST T.140 and TAKE, on only her starboard engines, depart Ormoc for Manila. At 0730, T.159 and T.140 carrying survivors of KUWA arrive at Manila. At 1845, TAKE, steaming on only her starboard shaft, escorted by fast transport T.9 arrives safely back at Manila.

8 December 1944:
ComDesDiv 30 Captain Sawamura Seiji (49) receives signal No. 805 from the Southwest Area Fleet that directs the landing of the forthcoming TA No. 9 be at Palompon instead of Ormoc.

9 December 1944: "Operation TA No. 9" - The Reinforcement of Leyte:
In the afternoon, a TA No. 9 convoy departs Manila consisting of MINO, SORACHI and TASMANIA MARU escorted by DesDiv 30's destroyers KIRI, UZUKI and YUZUKI and subchasers CH-17 and CH-37. T.159 and landing ship T.140 also depart Manila in conjunction with this convoy. The main convoy carries 4,000 soldiers of the Takahashi Detachment (5th Infantry Regiment) plus food and ammunition. T.159 and T.140 carry 400 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) marines of the Ito Force, equipped with amphibious tanks.

10 December 1944:
In the morning, the convoy marks time in the vicinity of Tablas Strait to hold to the previously agreed upon timetable for air cover. One B-24 heavy bomber-reconnaissance aircraft is sighted by the convoy's lookouts.

11 December 1944:
Vice Vice Admiral Okawachi Denshichi (37)(former CO of HIEI) CinC, Southwest Area Fleet, signals Comdesdiv 30 to land at Ormoc itself, and orders Sawamura's warships to bombard American positions and otherwise distract attention from his transports.

Near Leyte. In the morning the convoy is attacked by about 40 fighter-bombers. They did little damage, but return in the afternoon as the convoy is passing Palompon. TASMANIA and MINO MARUs are hit and go dead in the water. ComDesDiv 30 Captain Sawamura orders SORACHI MARU to head into Palompon. The smaller escorts close the cripples to remove survivors. Captain Sawamura directs 21st Subchaser Division's Captain Miyashita Makoto to complete the Palompon landings. Sawamura continues south to Ormoc with T.159 and LST T.140, escorted by KIRI and YUZUKI.

Shortly before midnight, the SNLF marines are sent ashore with their amphibious tanks. The landing provokes a firefight with American gunners both ashore and afloat. US Army artillery, mortars and tank destroyers open up on the beached landing ships and claim to have destroyed both. T.159 is abandoned in flames at 11-20N, 124-10E, but T.140 escapes with heavy damage.

(T.159 burning)

USS COGHLAN (DD-606), escorting two LSMs to Ormoc, also opens fire by radar. Her target, probably T.159, erupts into flames before disappearing from the radar scope. COGHLAN also claims a sinking.

Author's Note:
[1] According to some sources T.159 was sunk by USMC and USAAF aircraft N of Camotes Island on 12 December 1944.

-Bob Hackett & Sander Kingsepp

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