(USSURI MARU, prewar)

Tabular Record of Movement

© 2013-2016 Bob Hackett

22 April 1931:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Shipyard as Yard No. 500, a 6,386-ton passenger-cargo ship for the Osaka Shosen Kaisha (OSK) Line, Osaka.

26 November 1931:
Launched and named USSURI MARU.[1]

25 March 1932:
Completed. USSURI MARU can accommodate 65 first class passengers, 105 second class passengers and 644 third class (steerage) passengers. She carries a crew of 63. Placed on OSK’s Osaka ~ Kobe ~ Moji ~ Dairen, Manchuria route.

June 1941:
Transferred from the Manchuria route to unknown duties.

9 March 1943:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and allotted IJA No. 839. Converted to a troop transport and fitted with AA guns.

30 April 1943:
USSURI MARU departs Takao for Moji in convoy No. 257 also consisting of TAMON MARU escorted by destroyer ASAKAZE. [2]

1 May 1943:
At 0230, USSURI MARU is slightly damaged by a torpedo fired by LtCdr Otis J. Earle's (USNA '30) USS STINGRAY (SS-186) at 27-18N, 121-50E, but after stopping to repair the damage she is able to continue.

5 May 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

20 May 1943:
USSURI MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 158 also consisting of transports NISSHO (6526 GRT) MARU and KONAN MARU No. 1, tankers OTORISAN andr RONSAN MARUs, cargo ship TARUSHIMA MARU and two unidentified ships escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE. Cargo ship ATLANTIC MARU joins the convoy from Miike the same day.

23 May 1943:
USSURI MARU arrives at Takao in convoy No. 158 (first part) with NISSHO and OTORISAN MARUs and KONAN MARU No. 1.

25 August 1943:
At 0900, USSURI MARU departs Moji in convoy HI-07 also consisting of tankers GOYO (ex cargo), ITSUKUSHIMA, NANEI (ex-MANATAWNY), NAMPO and OMUROSAN MARUs escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU. Shelters overnight in Arikawa Bay, Goto Retto.

26 August 1943:
Departs Arikawa Bay.

29 August 1943:
Arrives at Takao.

30 August 1943:
Convoy HI-07 arrives at Mako from Moji. Kaibokan SADO replaces ETOROFU as escort.

8 September 1943:
Arrives at Saigon.

15 September 1943:
USSURI MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy SA-13 also consisting of TEIKO (ex-Vichy French liner D’ARTAGNAN), SEISHIN, TEIFU (ex-Vichy French liner BOUGAINVILLE) MARUs escorted by destroyer SANAE. En route south heavy weather is encountered and the convoy is dispersed.

22 September 1943:
USSURI MARU departs Singapore in convoy SA-12 also consisting of tanker KIRISHIMA and SEISHIN MARUs and transport TEIKO MARU escorted by fleet oiler ASHIZURI and subchaser CH-19. USSURI MARU is carrying 350 British and 150 Dutch prisoners-of-war (POWs) captured on Java. SEISHIN MARU is also carrying POWs.

25 September 1943:
South China Sea. In midmorning, lookouts aboard Cdr Frederick C. Lucas' USS BILLFISH (SS-286) spot convoy SA-12 to the west. Lucas signals LtCdr Joseph H. Willingham's USS BOWFIN (SS-287) of the sighting. Lucas submerges and tries to close the range, but the convoy zigs away.

Nearby, Willingham's BOWFIN, on her first war patrol, receives sister-ship BILLFISH's signal. At 1130, BOWFIN surfaces and begins tracking the convoy. At 1310, Willingham torpedoes and sinks KIRISHIMA MARU at 09-53N 112-10E. 14 crewmen are KIA. CH-19 counterattacks, but is unsuccessful.

At 1403, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from CH-19 that reads: “At 1030, arrived at the scene. At 1233 (10-02 N, 122-01 E) sighted crew [of KIRISHIMA MARU] and at 1330 picked up a total of 53 men including the Captain. Continuing the search for the others.”

26 September 1943:
At 1600, USN codebreakers decrypt another message from CH-19 that reads: “At 1425 picked up 9 more men. Above makes total of 62 of 87 (including passengers) rescued from KIRISHIMA MARU ----- heading for Saigon.”

29 September 1943:
USSURI MARU departs Manila in convoy No. 864 also consisting of GYOKO, KISO, SORACHI and TACOMA MARUs escorted by destroyer FUYO.

10 October 1943:
Arrives at Moji.

13 October 1943:
Arrives at Fukuoka, Kyushu. Lands 251 British prisoners from Java bound for Fukuoka POW camp No. 8.

10 November 1943:
USSURI MARU departs Mutsure for Singapore in convoy SA-17 also consisting of tankers KYOKUTO, MIRI and OKIGAWA MARUs, fleet oiler ASHIZURI and IJA landing craft depot ships NIGITSU and MAYASAN MARUs escorted by patrol boat PB-36.

13 November 1943:
Arrives at Kirun, Formosa (Keelung, Taiwan). At 0830 departs Kirun in the Rin-Toku convoy also consisting of cargo ship KOSHIN MARU (6530 grt) and transport ORYOKU MARU bound for Takao.

14 November 1943:
Arrives at Takao, Formosa. Steams to Mako later that day.

21 November 1943:
Arrives at Singapore.

23 January 1944:
USSURI MARU departs Moji in convoy No. 131 consisting of ARABIA and TOTTORI MARUs and seven unidentified ships escorted by subchasers CH-41 and CH-43. USSURI MARU carries the 2nd Battalion of the IJA 147th Infantry Regiment, 46th Division. ARABIA MARU carries elements of the 147th Infantry Regiment including regimental HQ, 1st, 3rd and artillery battalions.

28 January 1944:
Arrives at Takao.

29 January 1944:
Departs Takao.

31 January 1944:
USSURI MARU departs Takao for Cap St Jacques, Vichy French (Vung Tao, Vietnam) Indochina in convoy No. 357 also consisting of AKAGISAN, ANKO, ARABIA, HAWAII, NORFOLK, TOTTORI and TSUKUBA MARUs and TONAN MARU No. 2 and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by subchasers CH-41 and CH-43 and auxiliary gunboat HUASHAN (KAZAN) MARU.

E 7 February 1944:
Arrives at St. Jacques.

12 February 1944:
USSURI MARU departs St. Jacques in convoy SASHI-03 also consisting of AKAGISAN, ARABIA, HAWAII, KUNIYAMA, NORFOLK, SHIKISAN, TOTTORI and YOSHU MARUs and tanker TONAN MARU No. 2 escorted by destroyer KARUKAYA.

15 February 1944:
Arrives at Singapore.

16 February 1944:
Departs Singapore

22 February 1944:
Arrives at Surabaya, Java.

15 March 1944:
At 1000, USSURI MARU departs Singapore in convoy HI-50 also consisting of transports SANUKI and SHOHEI MARUs, tankers EIHO, MANEI, MEDAN and OKIGAWA MARUs and four unidentified ships escorted by destroyer SHIOKAZE and kaibokan SADO.

18 March 1944:
At 1600, arrives at St. Jacques.

20 March 1944:
At 1500, departs St. Jacques.

24 March 1944:
At 1900, arrives at Manila.

27 March 1944:
At 1400, departs Manila.

30 March 1944:
At 1030 arrives at Takao.

1 April 1944:
At 1600, departs Takao for Mako, Pescadores.

2 April 1944:
Arrives at Mako. Tanker KUROSHIO MARU joins the convoy.

4 April 1944:
Departs Mako.

E 5 April 1944:
Transport ORYOKU MARU joins from Kirun.

E 8 April 1944:
SHOHEI MARU is detached from the convoy and heads for Miike.

13 May 1944:
At 0400, USSURI MARU departs Moji for Singapore in convoy HI-63 also consisting of cargo /transports AWA, ex-seaplane tender SANUKI, ex-seaplane tender SANYO, TEIA (ex-Vichy French ARAMIS) and NISSHO MARUs, IJA landing craft depot ships KIBITSU and TAMATSU MARUS and tankers KYOKUHO, OTOWASAN and RYOEI MARUs escorted by kaibokan IKI, MATSUWA, CD-9 and CD-15. SANUKI MARU and other transports, except KIBITSU, NISSHO and TAMATSU MARUs carry troops bound for Burma.

18 May 1944:
At 1800, arrives at Manila. KIBITSU, NISSHO, SANYO and TAMATSU MARUs are detached.

20 May 1944:
At 2000, the remaining eight ships in HI-63 depart Manila with the same escort.

24 May 1944:
220 miles E of Singapore. LtCdr (later Cdr) James W. Davis' (USNA ’30) USS RATON (SS-270) attacks the convoy. In a series of attacks, Davis torpedoes and sinks kaibokan IKI (A total of 160 sailors including IKI’s CO, Cdr Nakao Kushuo are KIA) and lightly damages MATSUWA at 01-17N 107-53E. CD-15 and HI-63 escape unscathed.

27 May 1944:
At 2000, arrives at Singapore.

8 June 1944:
Arrives at Keelung.

9 June 1944:
Departs Keelung.

11 June 1944:
USSURI MARU and cargo /transports ARIMASAN, MANILA, MIIKESAN and tankers JINEI and SAN DIEGO MARUs and KYOEI MARU No. 8 and minelayer MAESHIMA and auxiliary subchaser CHa-95 depart Takao, Formosa and join convoy MI-05 that left Imari Bay, Japan on 3 Jun ’44 bound for Miri, Borneo.

Convoy MI-05 now consists of tankers AYAGIRI, AYANAMI, BAIEI, CERAM, KENZUI, MARIFU, NITTETSU, OEI, SAN DIEGO, SANKO (YAMAKO), TACHIBANA, TAKETSU (BUTSU), TOA and TOKUWA MARUs, YAMAMIZU MARU No. 2, fleet oiler NOTORO and cargo/transports FUYUKAWA, HINAGA, KENEI, NIPPO, SHOEI, SURAKARUTA and TATSUJU MARUs and thirteen other unidentified merchant ships escorted by torpedo boat SAGI, patrol boat PB- 38, minesweeper W-17 and four unidentified escorts.

13 June 1944:
LtCdr John D. Crowley's USS FLIER (SS-250) torpedoes and damages MARIFU MARU at 15-57N 119-42E. MARIFU MARU is taken in tow by MIIKESAN MARU and later arrives at Manila. MARIFU MARU is detached from the convoy and later towed to Cavite.

15 June 1944:
At about 1230, the convoy arrives at Manila. USSURI, AYAGIRI, KENZUI, NITTETSU and SANKO (YAMAKO) MARUs are detached and other ships join.

24 June 1944:
At 0630, USSURI MARU departs Manila in convoy MATA-23 also consisting of cargo ships DAITEN, KAMO, KAZAN, NICHIZUI, TASMANIA and TOUN MARUs and tankers KONSAN, MEDAN, RIKKO and SAN PEDRO MARUs and four unidentified merchant ships escorted by kaibokan ETOROFU CD-8 and CD-17.

25 June 1944:
At 0430, SAN PEDRO MARU, loaded with 12,000 tons of fuel oil, is torpedoed and sunk by LtCdr (later Captain) Arthur E. Krapf's (USNA ’34) USS JACK (SS-259) at 16-09N, 119-41E. 25 passengers, two guards and eight crewmen are KIA. NICHIZUI MARU rescues survivors. Convoy leader ETOROFU orders evasive manoeuvers.

27 June 1944:
At 0517, MEDAN MARU MARU loaded with aviation gasoline, is torpedoed by LtCdr (later Captain) Slade D. Cutter's (USNA ’35) USS SEAHORSE (SS-304) and sunk at 21-10N, 120-31E with no survivors from her crew of 56.

At 1518, SEAHORSE torpedoes USSURI MARU and gets a hit on the port bow that damages, but does not sink her. At 2245, a Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" bombs her, but misses.

28 June 1944:
SW of the Pescadores. At 0315, USAAF 14th Air Force B-24s attack convoy MATA-23. Straggler USSURI MARU is bombed and sunk at 23-45N, 119-57E. Two crewmen are KIA.

Author's Notes:
[1] Also known as USLII MARU.

[2] Sources vary as to the composition of this convoy. Author Komamiya claims that only USSURI and TAMON MARUs were in this convoy, but other sources say 12 merchant ships. One source also claims that the convoy departed from Mako, not Takao.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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