RIKUGUN HAITOSEN

(TAKACHIHO MARU sinking by Ohkubo Ichiro)

IJA Transport TAKACHIHO MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011 Bob Hackett


20 November 1932:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosensho as a 8,154-ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line of Osaka. She is designed to carry 35 first class, 132 second class and 618 third class passengers.

5 October 1933:
Launched and named TAKACHIHO MARU.

31 January 1934:
Completed and placed on OSK Line’s Kobe ~ Moji ~Kirun (Keelung), Formosa (now Taiwan) route.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (The First "China") Incident:
Lugouqiao, China. Japanese troops on night maneuvers at the bridge fire blank cartridges. Chinese troops fire back, but do not cause injuries. The Japanese discover a soldier missing and demand entry to Beijing to look for him, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese shell the city and an undeclared war on China begins.

1937:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army at an unknown date as a Rikugun troop transport (A/C-APK) and assigned IJA No. 290.

August 1937-January 1938:
TAKACHIHO MARU is requisitioned by IJA for six months to transports troops to China.

1938:
The Imperial Japanese Government renames all ships in Kokutai instead of Hepburn, possibly to deceive US intelligence. TAKATIHO is the Kokutai spelling for the Hepburn TAKACHIHO.

March 1938:
Released to back to OSK as a Rikugun Sempaku Uneikai Haitosen (A/C-APK).

October-November 1941:
TAKATIHO MARU repatriates Japanese citizens from Java, Netherlands East Indies.

14 March 1943:
Captain Shimoaoki’s TAKATIHO MARU departs Kobe for Moji and arrives later that day.

17 March 1943:
Departs Moji for Manila, Philippines via Keelung carrying 1,089 troops and passengers and 2,614-tons of general cargo. [1]

17 March 1943:
Captain Shimoaoki’s TAKATIHO MARU departs Moji for Manila, Philippines via Keelung carrying 1,089 troops and passengers and 2,614-tons of general cargo. [1]

19 March 1943:
Off N Keelung, Formosa. At 0805 (H), alerted by a codebreaker’s “Ultra” signal, LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Vernon L. Lowrance’s (USNA '30) USS KINGFISH (SS-234) sights a zig-zagging unescorted transport making 15 knots.

At 0837, KINGFISH fires a spread of four torpedoes at 1,800 yards range and gets two hits, one aft of the bridge and the other in the stern. TAKATIHO MARU takes on a list to starboard and begins sinking by the stern. Nevertheless, her gunners fire one salvo at KINGFISH.

Uniformed Japanese troops wearing backpacks begin scrambling down the ship's port side. KINGFISH's crew observes about 200 survivors in the water, two life boats and four rafts. At 0846, TAKATIHO MARU sinks at 25-50N, 122-30E. 844 troops, passengers and crew are KIA.


Author's Note:
[1] Several sources erroneously list TAKATIHO MARU as an IJA hospital ship, but Japanese Monograph No. 116 confirms her as a cargo vessel.

Thanks go to Gilbert Casse of France, Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and Gengoro S. Toda of Japan.

-Bob Hackett


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