(TSURUGA MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement
© 2013-2017 Bob Hackett

8 March 1916:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Shipyard as Yard No. 250, a 7,289-ton cargo ship for Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), K. K. (Japan Mail Steamship Co.).

28 April 1916:
Launched and named TSURUGA MARU.

15 June 1916:
Completed. and placed until the outbreak of the Pacific War.

In NYK's cargo service from Havana, Cuba~-Barry~Middlesbrough, England to New York.

8 August 1920:
TSURUGA MARU departs Kobe for Hamburg, Germany via Yokohama, Moji and London.

22 December 1933:
TSURUGA MARU departs Singapore, Malaya (now Malaysia) for Hong Kong, Moji . Kobe, Osaka and Yokohama.

20 October 1934:
TSURUGA MARU departs Singapore for Hamburg, Germany via Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Suez, Port Said, Eqypt, London, England and Rotterdam, Netherlands.

25 August 1937:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and converted to a troop transport. Alloted IJA No. 304.

30 March 1938:
Released by the IJA back to her owners.

21 July 1941:
Re-requisitioned by the IJA.

22 December 1941:
TSURUGA MARU departs Davao in the Jolo Occupation Convoy also consisting of IJA transports, HAVANA, KURETAKE, TEIRYU (ex-German AUGSBURG) and TSURUGA MARUs and IJN transports KOSHIN and NICHIAI MARUs and EIKO MARU No. 2 and an unidentified transport.

The convoy carries about 4,000 men consisting of the Sakaguchi Detachment (56th Mixed Infantry Corps, Matsumoto Detachment of the 146th Infantry Regiment, 1st Field Artillery Battalion, the Miura Detachment of the 16th Army Division, IJN 3rd Airfield Construction Unit, engineer and communications units and the Kure No. 1 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF).

The convoy is escorted by DesRon 2's light cruiser JINTSU and DesDiv 15's HAYASHIO, KUROSHIO, NATSUSHIO and OYASHIO. Carrier RYUJO and seaplane tenders CHITOSE and SANUKI MARU provide air cover.

24 December 1941: The Invasion of Jolo, Philippines.
At 2000, the landings on Jolo, Philippines begin.

25 December 1941:
At 1030, Jolo, including its airfield, is secured. Jolo provides a forward base for supporting the attacks on Borneo.

26 December 1941:
The first IJN fighters land on Jolo. Later, another seaplane base is also set up at Jolo.

6 January 1942: The Invasion of Tarakan, Dutch Borneo:
At 1100, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto´s (39) Tarakan Occupation Force Convoy departs Daliao (13 km SW of Davao).

The convoy is organized into two subdivisions:
1st subdivision (right wing unit) consists of Army transports TSURUGA, LIVERPOOL, EHIME. HANKOW, HITERU and HANKOW MARUs and Navy transports KUNIKAWA and KANO MARUs carrying MajGen Sakaguchi Shizuo’s 56th Mixed Infantry Group (Sakaguchi Detachment) right wing forces and the No. 2 Kure Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF).
2nd subdivision (left wing unit) consists of Army transports HAVANA, TEIRYU, KURETAKE, NICHIAI MARUs and Navy transports KAGU, KUNITSU and RAKUTO MARUs and carrying the Sakaguchi Detachment 's left wing forces, 5th Construction Unit and 2nd Defense Unit.

The escort is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Nishimura Shoji’s DesRon 4’s light cruiser NAKA with DesDiv 2’s HARUSAME, SAMIDARE, YUDACHI and MURUSAME, DesDiv 9’s ASAGUMO and MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO and DesDiv 24’s UMIKAZE, KAWAKAZE, YAMAKAZE and SUZUKAZE. 21st Air Flotilla seaplane tenders SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover.

Hirose's force also includes MineSweepDiv 11’s W-16, W-15, W-13, W-14, MineSweepDiv 30’s W-17 and W-18, SubChasDiv 31’s CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12, patrol boats P-36, P-37 and P-38 and other auxiliary ships.

10 January 1942:
At 1900, both subdivisions arrive at No. 1 Anchorage. At 2215, the 2nd subdivision including TEIRYU MARU departs No. 1 Anchorage.

11 January 1942:
At 0100, arrives at No. 2 Anchorage At 0220, the landing barges cast off from the transport ships and head towards the landing zone on the SE coast of Tarakan.

21 January 1942: The Invasion of Balikpapan, Dutch Borneo:
At 1700, Rear Admiral Hirose's Balikpapan Invasion Convoy departs Tarakan, Borneo carrying the Balikpapan Invasion Force consisting of the Sakaguchi Detachment (56th Regimental Group) and Kure No. 2 SNLF escorted by patrol boats PB-36, PB-37, PB-38, minesweepers W-15, W-16, W-17, W-18 and SubChasDiv 31's CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12.

The convoy is organized into two subdivisions:
1st subdivision consists of Army transports TSURUGA, LIVERPOOL, HITERU and EHIME MARUs (Sakaguchi Detachment), Navy transports ASAHISAN and NITTEI MARUs (2nd Construction Unit), KUMANOGAWA MARU (1st Base Force auxiliary ammunition ship) and SUMANOURA MARU (1st Base Force auxiliary netlayer).
2nd subdivision consists of Army transports HAVANA, HANKOW, TEIRYU and KURETAKE MARUs (Sakaguchi Detachment), Navy transports KANAYAMASAN MARU (2nd Construction Unit), FUJIKAGE (TOEI) MARU (1st Defense Unit) and NANA MARU (11th Air Fleet Transport).

Cover is provided by light cruiser NAKA (F) with DesDiv 2's YUDACHI, SAMIDARE, MURASAME, HARUSAME, DesDiv 9's ASAGUMO, MINEGUMO, NATSUGUMO and DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE and UMIKAZE. Seaplane tenders SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover.

Poor weather hampers air reconnaissance by ABDA (American-British-Dutch-Australian) forces, but ABDA Air finally locates the invasion force. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) William A. Glassford's Task Force 5's light cruisers USS MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), BOISE (CL-47) and Cdr Paul H. Talbot's DesDiv 59's old destroyers USS PARROTT (DD-218), POPE (DD-225), JOHN D. FORD (DD-228) and PAUL JONES (DD-230) are ordered to stop the invasion force, but BOISE runs aground and MARBLEHEAD develops engine trouble. DesDiv 59 is detached and increases speed to arrive at Balikpapan at midnight on January 23rd.

24 January 1942: Dutch Navy LtCdr C. A. J. van Well Groeneveld's (former CO of HMNS K-XIV) submarine HMNS K-XVIII, operating on the surface due to the weather, fires four bow torpedoes at light cruiser NAKA, but they all miss. At 0045, Groeneveld again fires at NAKA, but misses and hits TSURUGA MARU port amidships, sinking her at 00-10N, 118-0E. 38 troops and one crewman are KIA.

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

Bob Hackett

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