W-21 (W-19 class) scanned from Gakken, V. 45

IJN Minesweeper W-26:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2005-2015 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall

Revision 6

Yokohama. Laid down at Mitsubishi’s shipyard.

Launched and numbered W-26.

31 March 1943:
Completed and commissioned in the IJN. Attached to Yokosuka Naval District. Lt Ozato Ikuya is the CO.

19 April 1943:
W-26 departs Tokyo Bay for Hokkaido escorting convoy No. 1419 consisting of HANASAKI, TAIJIN and UYO MARUs.

25 April 1943:
W-26 arrives back in Tokyo escorting convoy No. 2425 from Hokkaido consisting of KOWA, TONEGAWA, MASAJIMA, YUZAN and HANASAKI MARUs.

2 July 1943:
At 1000, W-26 and auxiliary subchasers CHa-5 and CHa-12 depart Yokosuka for Truk via Saipan escorting convoy No. 3702B consisting of MANJU, HIYOSHI, TAKUNAN and CHIYO MARUs.

3 July 1943:
Near Aogashima. At 0530, W-26 is detached from the convoy and reverses course.

9 August 1943:
At 1500 departs Yokosuka escorting HOKKO MARU as far as TRUK. It is possible there were other ships in this convoy.

11 August 1943:
At 1200 arrives at Chichijima.

12 August 1943:
At 0600 departs Chichijima.

14 August 1943:
At 1400 arrives at Saipan.

15 August 1943:
At 0800 departs Saipan.

17 August 1943:
At 1200 arrives at Truk.

18 August 1943:
At 0800 departs Truk.

21 August 1943:
At 0400 arrives at Rabaul.

25 August 1943:
At 1100 departs Rabaul escorting BUNZAN MARU.

26 August 1943:
At 0600 arrives at Buka. At 1030 departs Buka.

27 August 1943:
At 0500 arrives at Shortland.

29 August 1943:
At 0500 departs Shortland on patrol, then at 1600 meets up with HINO MARU No. 5 and escorts the ship to Buka.

30 August 1943:
At 1300 arrives at Buka. Departs at 1600 still escorting HINO MARU No. 5.

31 August 1943:
At 1100 arrives at Rabaul.

19 September 1943:
At 0300 W-26 and W-28 depart Rabaul. At 1630 arrive at Kavieng. Undertake minesweeping activities (after SEIKAI MARU was mined).

24 September 1943:
At 0429 W-26 and W-28 depart Kavieng and at 1615 arrive at Rabaul.

28 September 1943:
At 0400 W-26 and W-28 depart Rabaul and at 1600 arrive at Kavieng.

6 October 1943:
Near Kavieng, New Ireland. W-26 conducts an anti-submarine sweep. She is relieved by TOSHI MARU No. 3 and returns to Rabaul, New Britain. [1]

22 October 1943:
At 1100, departs Ishikawajima Zosen yard. At 1600, arrives at Yokosuka.

30 October 1943:
At 0800, departs Yokosuka and anchors in Tokyo Bay.

31 October 1943:
At 0830, W-26 joins oiler KOKUYO MARU at sea and escorts her to Rabaul.

1 November 1943:
At 0345, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from W-26 that reads:“At 0045 at point bearing 315 degrees, 22 miles from Elizabeth Reef a large type enemy plane bombed us from about 50 meters off the port beam. One man badly wounded, three slightly wounded and slight damage to hull. Uncertain of details. KOKO MARU was not damaged.”

2 November 1943:
Destroyer UZUKI joins escort and the ships arrive soon after at Rabaul. In the morning, 75 North American B-25 "Mitchell" medium bombers of the 5th Air Force's 3rd, 38th and 345th Bomb Groups, escorted by 70 P-38 "Lightning" fighters raid airfields and Simpson Harbor. Stores ship MANKO MARU is sunk with unknown casualties. CruDiv 5’s HAGURO and MYOKO, destroyer SHIRATSUYU, sub tender CHOGEI, repair ship YAMABIKO MARU, transport HOKUYO MARU, stores ship HAYASAKI and W-26 are damaged in the raid. W-26 is beached to prevent her loss.

7 November 1943:
At 1520, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from the CO of W-26 regarding the 2 November air attack on Rabaul that reads: “Damage sustained. Hull damage from near misses. Flooding engine rooms, etc. and I am unable to move. Was towed to beach to keep from sinking.”

23 November 1943:
W-26, subchaser CH-16 and two auxiliary subchasers depart Rabaul for Truk escorting NIKKAI and WAYO MARUs.

26 November 1943:
Carolines. At 1647, LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Brooks J. Harral's (USNA ’32) USS RAY (SS-271) fires six torpedoes at NIKKAI MARU. Four hit and sink her in less than three minutes. Casualties are unknown.

28 November 1943:
The rest of the convoy arrives at Truk.

December 1943:
Rabaul. Undergoes repairs alongside HAKKAI MARU.

1 December 1943:
Rabaul. W-26 undergoes repairs alongside auxiliary repair ship HAKKAI MARU. Hull repair preparatory work starts.

6 December 1943:
Hull repair preparatory work ends.

7 December 1943:
Auxiliary repair ship HAKKAI MARU undertakes survey of damaged places.

10 December 1943:
Survey of damaged places is finished.

11 December 1943:
Work starts to drain flooded sections and to reinforce cracked upper deck.

22 December 1943:
Work starts to get access to the blocked and drained No.2 boiler room.

24 December 1943:
Repair of 25mm MG starts.

27 December 1943:
No.1 cutter is repaired.

28 December 1943:
Repair of 25mm MG is finished.

30 December 1943:
Access to No.2 boiler room is achieved.

30 January 1944:
Reinforcement work to ship´s hull is completed. Thereafter, the first steps are taken to restore the engine room.

17 February 1944:
Karavia Bay, near Rabaul. USN SBD dive-bombers and TBF torpedo-bombers attack shipping in the bay and sink W-26, cargo ship IWATE MARU, without casualties and guardboat FUKU MARU No. 2.

30 April 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Karavia Bay. W-26 is cut up for scrap by Nanyo Boeki Kaisha.

Authors' Notes:
[1] It seems probable W-26 was used less for convoy escort and more to carry out offensive anti-submarine patrols from Rabaul. This would account for the few records found of her escorting convoys.

Thanks go to Matthew Jones of Ohio for information on the CO. Thanks also go to John Whitman of the USA for info on CNO intercepts of Japanese messages and to Mr. Sander Kingsepp of Estonia and Mr. Gilbert Casse of France for general assistance.

Photo credit goes to Gakken via J. Ed Low.

-Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

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