Transport TANGO MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2012-2013 Bob Hackett
Revision 1

E 1925:
Hamburg, Germany. Laid down at Vulcan-Werke Hamburg und Stettin Actiengesellschaft as Yard No. 639, a 6,200-ton cargo ship for Deutsche Australische Dampfschiffs Gesellschaft, (DADG or German-Australian Line) of Hamburg.

E 1925:
Launched and named RENDSBURG.

February 1926:
Completed. Taken over with DADG’s fleet by the Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Hamburg America Line). Placed on HAPAG’s Far East and Australia route.

10 May 1940: The German invasion of the Netherlands:
Netherlands East Indies (NEI). Confiscated by the Dutch Government. Of 19 German merchant ships in the NEI, 18 are captured after a PTT telegraph operator withholds a coded telegram, dated 9 May '40, directed at these ships’ captains; only S.S . SOPHIE RICKMERS is sunk by her crew.

October 1940:
Renamed TOENDJOEK and operated by Nederlandsch Indische Maatschappij Voor Zeevaart N. V.

8 December 1941:
At 0630, in a radio speech the Governor-General of the NEI, Jonkheer (esquire) Alidius W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh-Stachouwer, announces the declaration of war between the Netherlands and Japan. [1]

2 March 1942:
Batavia, Java, NEI (now Jakarta, Indonesia). Scuttled off the port of Tandjung Priok as a blockship.

8 March 1942:
Bandung, Java. Governor-General Tjarda van Starkenborgh-Stachouwer surrenders Java to the Japanese.

12 August 1942:
Refloated and salved, probably by the Tandjong Priok branch of the IJN’s No. 102 Repair Facility based at Surabaya.

Repaired and reconditioned. Requisitioned by the Japanese Government’s Teikoku Senpaku Kaisha (Imperial Steamship Co.). Renamed TANGO MARU and operated by Iino Kaiun Kaisha (Iino Lines Steamship Co., Ltd.).

20 April 1943:
At 1700, TANGO MARU departs Woosung, near Shanghai, China for Tomie, Goto-Retto, Japan in convoy SHI-6 convoy also consisting of DAIKOKU (OKUNI), RYUTO, MIKAGE, JUNYO, TETSUYO, KOKO, MIYAZAKI and SHINWA MARUs and an unidentified ship escorted by minelayer TSUBAME.

E 24 April 1943:
Arrives at Tomie, Goto-Retto.

13 September 1943:
TANGO MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 192 also consisting of KYOKUYO, TAKETOYO, FUTTSU, KOSO and HONAN MARUs and three unidentified ships escorted by torpedo boat MANAZURU and auxiliary gunship CHOHAKUSAN MARU.

14 September 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

15 September 1943:
The convoy retires to Kagoshima because of the threat of a submarine attack.

17 September 1943:
At 0600, a typhoon warning is issued; nevertheless, at 1730, the convoy departs Kagoshima.

18 September 1943:
About 1900, the convoy arrives at Naze, Amami-O-Shima, Ryukyus.

19 September 1943:
Off Amami-O-Shima. TANGO MARU runs aground at 28-20N, 129-30E. KYOKUYO, TAKETOYO, FUTTSU and KOSO MARUs are also driven ashore by the storm.

E 15 December 1943:
TANGO MARU departs Surabaya escorted by patrol boat PB-102 (ex-USS STEWART (DD-224).

17 December 1943:
Arrives at Kota Baru.

24 February 1944:
At 1522, TANGO MARU departs Surabaya, Java for Ambon, Moluccas in a convoy consisting of IJA cargo RYUSEI MARU escorted by minesweepers W-8 and W-11 and auxiliary subchaser TAKUNAN MARU No. 5. TANGO MARU is carrying 5,700 troops including men of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, about 3,500 Javanese Romusha laborers and Allied prisoners-of-war POWs, probably mostly Dutch Colonial (native) troops. RYUSEI MARU is carrying about 6,600 men: four detachments of various IJA units for a total of 1,244 Japanese nationals, 2,865 Indian soldiers and 2,559 Romusha laborers.

That same day, LtCdr (later Captain) Willard R. Laughon's (USNA '33) USS RASHER (SS-269) and LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) James W. Davis’ (USNA '30) USS RATON (SS-270) receive a coded ULTRA message that orders them to patrol the Bali Sea to intercept a two-ship convoy expected to enter the Rass Strait between 1800-2000 the next night.

25 February 1944:
About 25 miles N of Bali Island. At about 1730, RASHER (SS-269) makes visual contact with the convoy. At 1943, in rough seas, Laughon fires four torpedoes and gets hits starboard side in No. 4 hold. At 1948, TANGO MARU sinks at 07-41N, 115-10E.

At 2225, Laughon sets up and fires four torpedoes at RYUSEI MARU. He gets three hits and she goes down at 07-55S, 115-15E. An unknown number of troops and POWs and about 3,000 Javanese and 34 crew are killed.

At 0824, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message that reads: "Subchaser No. 1 will proceed immediately to the position of the sinking of the RYUSEI MARU to rescue personnel.”

Authors' Note:
[1] The NEI declaration was premature. The Dutch Government in London did not issue the official declaration of war until 10 Dec '41.

Photo credit goes to reader Berend of Belgium.

-Bob Hackett

Back to "Axis Merchant Ships in Japanese Service"