(Sister YUKIKAWA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014-2017 Bob Hackett

22 April 1940:
Kobe. Laid down by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. as Yard No. 649, a 4,673-ton cargo ship for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. of Kobe.

28 March 1941:
Launched and named TSUKIKAWA MARU.

30 June 1942:

29 November 1942:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army and converted to a troop transport. Allotted Army No. 941.

2 December 1942:
TSUKIKAWA MARU departs Wada-Misaki, near Kobe in convoy East (Higashi) No. 32 also consisting of collier HIKOSAN MARU, transports KOJUN, RYOKAI, ZUISHO MARUs and HAKUTETSU MARU No. 7 escorted by destroyer OKIKAZE.

4 December 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

14 December 1942:
TSUKIKAWA MARU departs Saeki via Palau for Rabaul, New Britain in Military Movement No. 8’s convoy “I” also consisting of CHINZEI, MEXICO SHINSOKU and UCHIDE MARUs and DAIGEN MARU No. 3 escorted by cable-minelayer TSURUSHIMA and subchaser CH-37.

E 15 December 1942:
The escorts are detached at 29N.

E 3 January 1943:
Arrives at Rabaul.

15 July 1943:
TSUKIKAWA MARU departs St Jacques, Vichy French Indochina (Vung Tau, Vietnam) in convoy No. 593 also consisting of KOKUEI, NICHINAN (1945 grt) and OTORISAN MARUs without escort.

18 July 1943:
At 1630 arrives at Singapore.

11 August 1943:
At 1100, TSUKIKAWA MARU departs Mako, Pescadores for Moji in convoy No. 291 also consisting of transports SHOKEI, SYDNEY and TSUYAMA MARUs, tanker KOKUEI MARU and seven unidentified merchant ships escorted by auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU.

16 August 1943:
SHOKEI MARU is detached. The convoy arrives at Moji.

7 September 1943:
TSUKIKAWA MARU departs Takao, Formosa (Taiwan) in convoy No. 768 also consisting of KINKASAN, SHONAN (5859 grt) and ZUISHO MARUs and two unidentified merchant ships escorted by destroyer FUYO.

10/11 September 1943:
At midnight, arrives at Manila.

3 December 1943:
TSUKIKAWA MARU departs Moji for Samah, Hainan Island, China in convoy No. 118 also consisting of transports DURBAN, KAIRYU, NANREI, NISSHU, PANAMA, RAIZAN, and TACOMA MARUs and cargo JUICHISEI MARU (HOSHI MARU No. 11 and four unidentified merchants with unknown escorts.

8 December 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Takao.

30 January 1944:
At 0800, TSUKIKAWA MARU departs Kau, Halmahera Island, Moluccas for Manila in the "M" convoy also consisting of KAZUURA, ODATSUKI and YAMAMIYA MARUs escorted by patrol boat P-103 and subchaser CH-46 and auxiliary subchaser KYO MARU No. 13.

31 January 1944:
Arrives at Cebu.

2 February 1944:
Departs Cebu.

5 February 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

7 March 1944:
At 1800, TSUKIKAWA MARU departs Wasile, Halmahera Island in a convoy also consisting of ASAKA and CHUKA MARUs and one unidentified Army merchant escorted by minelayer WAKATAKA and auxilary subchaser TAKUNAN MARU No. 5.

10 March 1944:
At 1013, lookouts aboard Cdr Walter T. Griffith's (USNA ’34) USS BOWFIN (SS-287) sight four columns of smoke made by the convoy. At 1140, Griffith fires six unreliable Mark 14-3A bow torpedoes, but four explode prematurely. A Japanese twin-engine bomber appears and forces BOWFIN under.

The escorts counterattack and drop 24 DCs near USS BOWFIN, but do no serious damage. When Griffith comes to periscope depth, he sees a freighter down by the stern being taken under tow. Despite the escorts and five circling aircraft, Griffith attacks the convoy, but cannot follow his torpedoes’ tracks because one is making a circular run. Griffith dives.

At 1325, USN code breakers intercept and decrypt a message from the CO of WAKATAKA that reads: "TSUKIKAWA MARU hit by torpedo at 1212 position 01-52S, 128-12 E. Am attacking in cooperation with two of our army planes.”

At 1500, code breakers decrypt another message from WAKATAKA that reads: “Report No. 2 TSUKIKAWA MARU was hit by 2 torpedoes, and although she is in no danger of sinking, she is unable to navigate. Am having the ASAKA MARU take her in tow.”

At 1830, code breakers decrypt another message from WAKATAKA that reads: “Have completed preparations for towing, but even though towing attempted, flooding is spreading from hold No. 2 and the extreme danger of sinking is increasing .”

11 March 1944:
Griffith attacks the freighter again, but the escorts drove BOWFIN down once more. Later that day, BOWFIN finishes off TSUKIKAWA MARU with four torpedoes. Four troops and two crewmen are KIA.

At 0239, code breakers decrypt a message that reads: "At 1940 on 10th, while TSUKIKAWA MARU was transferring personnel to ASAKA MARU, she sustained an accurate torpedo attack and took 3 hits. Position of sinking was 01-25S, 128-14E.”

Author's Note:
Thanks go to Erich Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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