IJN TATSUTA MARU: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2009 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp

Revision 1

3 December 1927:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. as a 16,955 gross register ton passenger liner for the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK)(Japan Mail Steam Ship Co. Ltd) Line.

12 April 1929:
Launched and named TATSUTA MARU.

15 March 1930:

25 April 1930:
Departs Yokohama on her maiden voyage.

TATSUTA MARU is on NYK’s premier express service, regularly sailing between Yokohama, Kobe, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Honolulu, San Francisco and Los Angeles. with occasional stops at Nagasaki and Manila.

29 July 1931:
Arrives San Francisco

23 June 1932:
Departs Yokohama carrying many participants from Asia to the 1932 Olympics held in Los Angeles.

30 June 1932:
Arrives at Honolulu.

1 July 1932:
Departs Honolulu for San Francisco.

6 July 1932:
Arrives at San Francisco.

8 July 1932:
Departs San Francisco.

9 July 1932:
Arrives at San Pedro near Los Angeles. Disembarks Olympians.

9 November 1932:
Arrives San Francisco.

3 January 1934:
Arrives San Francisco.

26 April 1934:
Departs Yokohama for Honolulu.

3 May 1934:
Arrives at Honolulu.

9 May 1934:
Arrives at San Francisco. This is the first day of a coast-wide maritime strike.

9 July 1935:
Arrives San Francisco.

14 May 1936:
Arrives San Francisco.

3 September 1936:
Arrives at San Francisco.

12 November 1936:
Shortly after noon, after opening ceremonies, TATSUTA MARU becomes the first merchant ship to pass under the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland, then the longest bridge in the world.

25 February 1937:
Arrives at Honolulu.

20 May 1937:
Departs San Francisco for Honolulu.

7 July 1937:
Arrives at San Francisco.

2 September 1937:
Arrives at San Francisco carrying refugees from Shanghai.

25 December 1937:
Departs San Francisco for Honolulu.

The transliteration of TATSUTA MARU is changed to TATUTA MARU.

7 July 1938:
Arrives at San Francisco.

28 July 1938:
Arrives Yokohama

25 August 1938:
Arrives at San Francisco.

12 January 1939:
Arrives at San Francisco.

4 April 1939:
Arrives at Honolulu.

April 1939:
Arrives at Yokohama.

20 September 1939:
Arrives at San Francisco.

18 January 1940:
Departs San Francisco without 512 seamen from the scuttled German liner COLUMBUS who had been scheduled to depart aboard TATUTA MARU. [1]

13 July 1940:
TATUTA MARU arrives at San Francisco carrying 40 Jewish refugees from Russia, Austria, Germany, Norway and England.

21 March 1940:
Arrives at San Francisco.

13 November 1940:
Arrives at San Francisco.

E 6 March 1941:
Departs Yokohama for Honolulu under new skipper Captain Takahata Toichi.

14 March 1941:
Arrives at Honolulu. Disembarks passengers including Nagao Kita newly appointed Japanese Consul General to Hawaii.

20 March 1941:
Arrives at San Francisco. Disembarks passengers including IJA Colonel (later MajGen) Iwakuru Hideo dispatched by Premier Tojo Hideki to Washington, D. C. to assist Ambassador Admiral Nomura Kichisaburo reconcile differences between Japan and the United States.

E 21 March 1941:
Departs San Francisco for Honolulu. Among the passagers on the return voyage to Yokohama is a German, Werner E. Thiel. [2]

28 July 1941:
TATUTA MARU sets a new trans-Pacific crossing record.

10 July 1941:
Voyage 68 departs Yokohama for Honolulu.

23 July 1941: Operation "FU"- The Occupation of French South Indochina (Cochinchina):
Japanese and Vichy French authorities arrive at an "understanding" regarding the use of air facilities and harbors in Southern Indochina.

24 July 1941:
Japanese forces occupy Southern Indochina.

26 July 1941:
Hyde Park, N. Y. In retaliation for the occupation of Indochina, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order No. 8389 that seizes all Japanese assets in the United States. American trade with Japan, including sales of oil and scrap metal ends. Britain and the Dutch East Indies follow suit. Japan looses access to most of its overseas trade and its imported oil.

San Francisco. The Yokohama Specie Bank, Ltd. prepares to ship a large number of Japanese bonds to Japan aboard TATUTA MARU. As a result of the Federal action, Japanese bonds of various descriptions having a par value of $9,621,100 are recovered.

The Japanese Foreign Office opens negotiations with Washington to resume passenger service between the two countries.

30 July 1941:
The Committee of Treasury, State and Justice Department officials responsible for the administration of the foreign fund freezing order grants a license permitting TATUTA MARU's owners to withdraw funds needed to pay for fuel required to return to Japan.

August 1941:
TATUTA MARU lays off San Francisco until Captain Takahata is sure his cargo of $2,500,000 worth of raw silk will not be seized as a result of the U.S. Executive Order. Finally, TATUTA MARU is allowed to unload 5,568 bales of silk on San Francisco's docks.

4 August 1941:
TATUTA MARU departs San Francisco. She carries 320 kiloliters (84,4890 gals.) of oil. These are the last oil exports to Japan from America.

17 August 1941:
Arrives at Yokohama. Captain Kimura Sakao, a Reserve naval officer, is appointed the new skipper.

28 August 1941:
Departs Kobe carrying 349 Jewish war refugees.

E 15 September 1941:
Arrives at Shanghai.

12 October 1941:
The American and Japanese Press announce the schedules for three NYK liners to renew service. TATUTA MARU will depart Yokohama for San Francisco via Honolulu on 15 October, NITTA MARU will depart Yokohama for Seattle on 20 October and TAIYO MARU will depart Yokohama for Honolulu on 22 October 1941.

14 October 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJN by requisition No. EN No. 2044 as a charter vessel and attached to the Yokosuka Naval District.

15 October 1941:
TATUTA MARU, with an entirely new crew, departs Yokohama on a repatriation voyage for American and Japanese nationals wishing to return to their homelands. The ship maintains radio silence during the entire voyage.

23 October 1941:
At 1000, arrives at Honolulu. Disembarks American nationals and two Japanese intelligence agents who carry instructions for the consulate and a supply of radios for civilian spies in place on Oahu.

24 October 1941:
Departs Honolulu for San Francisco.

30 October 1941:
Arrives at San Francisco. Disembarks Americans and other repatriates including Consul General Leon Siguenza of El Salvador, Cdr P. D. Perkins of the Japanese Foreign Office and other foreign nationals. That same day, TATUTA MARU embarks Japanese nationals and departs. This voyage was the last passenger ship trip between Japan and America before the outbreak of World War II.

2 November 1941:
Arrives at Honolulu. Embarks Japanese nationals.

14 November 1941:
Arrives at Yokohama.

1 December 1941:
Large scale shifts in key diplomatic personnel from Canada and the United States to Mexico and Latin America begin, and a mass exodus of Japanese residents gets under way. The Consulate General in Califonia begins to destroy its records, as does the Consulate General, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Japan Institute in New York City.

2 December 1941:
Departs Yokohama ostensibly bound for San Francisco via Honolulu on a second repatriation voyage for American and Japanese nationals wishing to return to their homelands. From San Francisco, TATUTA MARU is to call at Manzanillo, Mexico on 19 December, Balboa, Canal Zone, on 27 December and then proceed to Yokohama.

In reality, the scheduled voyage is a hoax. TATUTA MARU's captain is instructed that about 8 December he will receive important instructions with which he has to comply, but he is not told of the pending attack on Pearl Harbor.

5 December 1941:
Japanese Embassy, Washington, DC. Secret codes and ciphers are burned.

6 December 1941:
Organizations such as the Japanese Raw Silk Intelligence Bureau, the Silk Department of Mitsui & Co., Gunze Corporation, Asahi Corporation, Japanese Cotton & Silk Trading Co., Hara & Co., Katakura & Co., Morimura & Co., Arai & Co. and Shinyai & Co. close and their personnel plan to leave the U.S. on December 16 aboard TATUTA MARU.

6/7 December 1941 - The attack on Pearl Harbor:
At about midnight, as instructed by Tokyo, TATUTA MARU reverses course.

7 December 1941:
Prior to the outbreak of war, the U.S. State Department informs the Japanese Government that passenger ship PRESIDENT MADISON will arrive at Chingwangtao (Peiking seaport) on 10 December 1941 to evacuate American Marines and about 615 American Nationals from the North China area. State requests PRESIDENT MADISON be allowed to proceed freely and without hindrance in return for similar arrangements made for TATUTA MARU then enroute to Los Angeles to evacuate Japanese Citizens. [3]

14 December 1941:
Arrives at Yokohama.

17 January 1942:
Re-requisitioned by the Department of the Navy as a charter vessel and attached to the Yokosuka Naval District.

27 January 1942:
Departs Yokohama. Later arrives at Yokosuka, then departs back to Yokohama.

2 February 1942:
Departs Yokohama.

4 February 1942:
Arrives at Pusan, Korea.

5 February 1942:
Departs Pusan.

11 February 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

20 February 1942:
Departs Truk.

24 February 1942:
Arrives at Mereyon.

25 February 1942:
Departs Mereyon.

1 March 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.

9 March 1942:
Departs Kwajalein. 11 March 1942 Arrives Wake Island.

12 March 1942:
Departs Wake.

17 March 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

21 March 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

22 March 1942:
Arrives at Tokuyama. Takes on fuel.

25 March 1942:
Departs Tokuyama and later arrives at Kure.

27 March 1942:
Departs Kure and later arrives at Kobe.

28 March 1942:
Departs Kobe.

29 March 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

30 March 1942:
Departs Yokohama.

5 April 1942:
Arrives at Tarakan, Borneo.

7 April 1942:
Departs Tarakan.

8 April 1942:
Arrives at Balikpapan, Borneo. Takes on fuel.

10 April 1942:
Departs Balikpapan.

11 April 1942:
Arrives at Makassar, Celebes.

18 April 1942:
Departs Makassar.

20 April 1942:
Arrives at Kupang, Timor and departs that same day.

22 April 1942:
Arrives at Ambon and departs later that day.

24 April 1942:
Arrives at Davao, Philippines.

25 April 1942:
Departs Davao.

28 April 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

30 April 1942:
Departs Takao.

1 May 1942:
Arrives at Keelung.

2 May 1942:
Departs Keelung.

5 May 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

10 May 1942:
Departs Yokosuka.

15 May 1942:
Arrives at Davao.

17 May 1942:
Departs Davao.

19 May 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

20 May 1942:
Departs Manila.

24 May 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

26 May 1942:
Departs Sasebo.

28 May 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

4 June 1942:
Departs Yokohama.

7 June 1942:
Arrives at Saipan.

8 June 1942:
Departs Saipan.

10 June 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

13 June 1942:
Departs Truk.

16 June 1942:
Arrives at Jaluit. Departs later that day and arrives at Emidji.

17 June 1942:
Departs Emidji.

18 June 1942:
Arrives at Taroa.

20 June 1942:
Departs Taroa and arrives at Wotje, Caroline Islands.

22 June 1942:
Departs Wotje.

23 June 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

24 June 1942:
Departs Kwajalein.

30 June 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

30 July 1942:
The first Japanese-English diplomatic exchange voyage begins. TATUTA MARU departs Yokohama carrying 60 British internees including Ambassador Sir Robert Craigie and British embassy staff from Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe, Belgian Ambassador and Mrs M. Fortholme, Greek Minister M. Politis, Egyptian Minister M. Samaika, Australian Chargé d’Affairs Keith Officer, Norwegian Chargé d’Affairs and Mrs. M. Kolstadt, Dutch Chargé d’Affairs and Mrs. M. Reuchlin Czechoslovakian Minister Mr. Havlicek and consular officials from Yokohama and Kobe plus other British and foreign nationals.

4 August 1942:
Arrives at Shanghai. Exchange vessel KAMAKURA MARU joins TATUTA MARU. Embarks additional repatriates from China and Manchuria.

5 August 1942:
TATUTA and KAMAKURA MARUs depart Shanghai.

9 August 1942:
Arrives at Saigon. Embarks additional repatriates.

14 August 1942:
Arrives at Singapore and departs that same day carrying nearly 1000 evacuees.

27 August 1942:
Arrives at Lourenco Marques, Portuguese East Africa. British personnel are exchanged for Japanese diplomats and supplies from England, Australia and India. British and other passengers are transferred to Furness Lines’ SS EL NIL and P & O (Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co.) Line’s SS NARKUNDA for the voyage to Liverpool, England. Some British and other passengers await transportation to South African and other ports.

2 September 1942:
TATUTA MARU departs Lorenco Marques. She also carries 48,818 Red Cross parcels and supplies from England, Australia and India intended for British POW's in Singapore and the region.

17 September 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

27 September 1942:
Arrives at Yokohama.

11 December 1942:
Re-requisitioned by the Department of the Navy as a charter vessel and attached to the Yokosuka Naval District.

12 December 1942:
Arrives at Sasebo.

14 December 1942:
Departs Sasebo and later arrives at Nagasaki.

19 December 1942:
Departs Nagasaki.

21 December 1942:
Arrives at Mako and departs later that day.

23 December 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

25 December 1942:
Departs Manila.

26 December 1942:
A fire breaks out aboard, but is quickly extinguished.

28 December 1942:
Arrives at Balikpapan, Borneo. Takes on fuel.

31 December 1942:
Departs Balikpapan.

1 January 1943:
Arrives at Makassar.

8 January 1943:
Departs Makassar.

11 January 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

14 January 1943:
At 0900, departs Singapore.

18 January 1943:
Arrives at Hong Kong.

19 January 1943:
At 1300, TATUTA MARU departs Hong Kong carrying 1,180 men including 663 Canadian POWs from the Sham Sui Po PW Camp. The POWs are packed so tightly that there is no room to lie down.

22 January 1943:
At 0400, TATUTA MARU arrives at Nagasaki. The POWs are disembarked and a board train for Omine 3D PW camp at Kawasaki-machi where they engage in mining coal for Japan.

23 January 1943:
Departs Nagasaki and later that day arrives at Sasebo.

25 January 1943:
Departs Sasebo.

26 January 1943:
Arrives at Osaka.

28 January 1943:
Departs Osaka.

29 January 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

30 January 1943:
Departs Yokosuka and arrives at Yokohama.

31 January 1943:
Departs Yokohama and arrives at Yokosuka.

8 February 1943:
At 1600, departs Yokosuka for Truk escorted by destroyer YAMAGUMO.

42 miles E-SE of Mikura Jima. LtCdr Thomas L. Wogan’s USS TARPON (SS-175) picks up a radar contact and chases it on the surface. At about 2215, using SJ radar ranges and periscope sightings, Wogan hits TATUTA MARU with perhaps four torpedoes. At 2237, she sinks taking down 1,223 troops and passengers and 198 crewmen at 33-45N, 140-25E. All are swept away in a fierce gale and perish because the ship was 1500 metres ahead of YAMAGUMO and she is unable to find any survivors in the darkness. [4]

10 March 1943:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Note:
[1] On 3 Sep '39, while on a tourist cruise in the Caribbean, the 32,381-ton North German Lloyd liner COLUMBUS was caught by the outbreak of war. On 19 Dec '39, while making a break for home, COLUMBUS was intercepted by British destroyer HMS HYPERION about 450 miles E of Cape May, New Jersey. COLUMBUS' crew scuttled her rather than allow her to be taken as a war prize. 567 seamen and nine women were rescued by nearby neutral American cruiser USS TUSCALOOSA (CA-37) and taken to Ellis Island, NY. From there, 512 men of military age travelled by train to San Francisco for onward passage to Japan and then Germany. The men were scheduled to depart San Francisco aboard TATUTA MARU, but aborted their passage because of fears of being taken prisoner by the British while at sea as happened to German passengers aboard ASAMA MARU a few days later. [1]

[2] After he returns to Germany, Thiel becomes a Nazi saboteur. In 1942, he travels aboard U-584 to a beach near Jacksonville, Flordia. His mission is assist other members of his team in blowing up the railroad stations and a railroad bridge, lock and canal complexes in Missouri and Ohio, and the New York City water supply system. In addition, his team was to bomb in Jewish-owned department stores and railroad stations to create panic and terror. Before Thiel and his team can carry out their mission, they are apprehended by the FBI. Later, they are tried and found guilty. Two are imprisioned, but Thiel and five other Nazis are executed.

[3] On 9 December, light cruiser USS MARBLEHEAD joined PRESIDENT MADISON in Balikpapan, Borneo and escorted her to Surabaja, Java. On 29 December, MADISON departed Surabaja for Colombo with evacuees from Java.

[4] Another report says 1,283 troops.

Special thanks go to Peter Cundall of Australia for info in Revision 1.

- Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp.

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