SOKAITEI!

IJN Minesweeper W-2:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2005-2017 Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall
Revision 5


1922:
Tamano. Laid down at the Mitsui Co. Ltd. shipyard.

17 March 1923:
Launched.

30 June 1923:
Completed and registered in the Yokosuka Naval District.

24 April 1924:
Renumbered W-2.

1 November 1941:
Assigned to Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's (37) South Expeditionary Fleet in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hiraoka Kumeichi's (former CO of HIEI) 9th Base Force, both based at Camranh Bay, Indochina. Lt Ikunaga Kunio is the CO.

8 November 1941:
Departs Kure.

17 November 1941:
Arrives at Sana (Samah, now Ya Xian), Hainan island and conducts patrols.

2 December 1941:
At 1400 W-2 and W-3 depart Sana.

5 December 1941:
At 0053 W-2, W-3 and W-4 arrive at Pulo Condore. At 2350 W-2 and W-3 depart.

7 December 1941: Operation "E" - The Invasion of Malaya.
At 2330 W-2 and W-3 arrive at Kota Bharu. At 2345 (L), light cruiser SENDAI, DesDiv 19's AYANAMI, ISONAMI, SHIKINAMI and URANAMI commence a bombardment of Kota Bharu, Malaya.

8 December 1941:
At 0045 local, W-2 and W-3, SENDAI and her destroyers, subchaser CH-9 and transports AWAJISAN MARU, AYATOSAN MARU and SAKURA MARU land troops at Kota Bharu. At 0210, they are attacked by seven of RAAF No. 1 Squadron's "Hudson" light bombers. The headquarters ship of MajGen Takumi Hiroshi's 5th Division, 9,794-ton transport AWAJISAN MARU, is hit and set afire. The other two transports are damaged. After towing by two of DesDiv 19's destroyers fails, AWAJISAN MARU is abandoned. One crewman is KIA.

The Indian-British brigade defending Kota Bharu puts up stiff resistance and inflicts heavy casualties on the Japanese, but is soon outflanked and overrun. That same day, the other ten transports land troops unopposed at Singora and five transports land troops unopposed at Patani, Siam (now Thailand).

At 0700 W-2 and W-3 depart Kota Bharu. At 1340, arrive at Pattani and depart at 1757.

9 December 1941:
At 0140 W-2 and W-3 return to Kota Bharu and depart again at 1939. At 2225 arrives at Singora.

12 December 1941:
At 2000 arrives at Pulo Condore.

15 December 1941:
At 1100 arrives at Singora.

20 December 1941:
At 1130 departs Singora.

21 December 1941:
At 0355 arrives at Koh Samui.

23 December 1941:
W-1 and W-2 arrive at Singora.

30 December 1941:
W-1 and W-2 depart Singora.

1 January 1942:
Departs Singora. Arrives at St. Jacques, Indochina.

12 January 1942:
At 1200 arrives at Pulo Condore Island with W-1, W-3, W-4 and W-5.

20 January 1942:
W-2 departs Camranh with W-1, W-3, W-4 and W-5 and light cruiser SENDAI, DesDiv 11's FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI and SHIRAYUKI, DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI, AMAGIRI and YUGIRI escorting 11 troop transports consisting of NAKO, NAGARA, SASAGO, SADO, SAGAMI, SAKITO, HIROKAWA, KYUSHU, AOBASAN, CANBERRA and KANSAI MARUs.

22 January 1942:
The convoy arrives at Singora.

26 January 1942:
At 0700 the convoy arrives at Endau.

27 January 1942: The Battle off Endau:
Singapore. LtCdr B. S. Davies' old WW1 destroyer HMS THANET and LtCdr W. T. A. Moran's HMAS VAMPIRE are dispatched to make a night attack on the troop tansports at Endau, about 80 miles N of Singapore. At 0237, approaching Endau, they engage a warship they take to be a destroyer, but actually is minesweeper W-1. HMAS VAMPIRE launches two torpedoes at W-1, but they miss. W-1 raises the alarm and the Allied destroyers continue towards Endau.

At 0318, HMAS VAMPIRE sights SHIRAYUKI to port and launches two torpedoes at her, but they miss. Then HMS THANET launches all four of her torpedoes, but also misses. Both Allied destroyers open fire with their 4-inch guns. SENDAI and SHIRAYUKI return fire. The Allied destroyers retire SE at maximum speed.

At about 0400, HMS THANET is hit in the engine and boiler rooms. Her speed falls off and an explosion wrecks the old destroyer. She goes dead in the water, lists heavily to starboard and begins to sink. HMAS VAMPIRE lays a smoke screen, but HMS THANET is attacked by FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI, ASAGIRI, AMAGIRI, YUGIRI and W-1. At 0415, HMS THANET sinks. HMAS VAMPIRE is undamaged and without casualties, but she has no chance to pick up survivors. She makes for Singapore arriving there at 1000.

Troop transports KANSAI MARU and CANBERRA MARU are damaged in the action. Later, SHIRAYUKI picks up 31 survivors from HMS THANET. They are never seen again.

At 2400 W-2 and W-3 depart Endau.

Late January 1942:
Kaibokan SHIMUSHU receives a signal from Vice Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo's (37) First Southern Expeditionary Fleet's flagship CHOKAI that orders the kaibokan to locate the wreck of British battleship HMS PRINCE OF WALES sunk off Kuantan, Malaya by IJN aircraft on 10 December.

29 January 1942:
South China Sea, E of Malaya. SHIMUSHU, escorted by minesweepers W-2, W-1, W-3, W-4 and W-5, locates the wreck of British battlecruiser HMS REPULSE and marks it with a buoy.

1 February 1942:
SHIMUSHU reports locating the wreck of HMS PRINCE OF WALES at a depth of 60 meters. The site is marked with a buoy and the IJN ships are recalled.

2 February 1942:
Assigned to escort the Bangka-Palembang, Sumatra invasion force.

9 February 1942: Operation "L" - The Invasions of Palembang and Banka Island:
MineSweepDiv 1's W-2, W-1, W-3, W-4 and W-5 and SubChasDiv 11's CH-7 and CH-8 depart Camranh Bay, Indochina for Palembang escorting eight transports. Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hashimoto Shintaro's (41) DesRon 3's SENDAI with DesDiv 11's FUBUKI, HATSUYUKI and SHIRAYUKI, DesDiv 20's ASAGIRI provides close cover.

11 February 1942:
Patrols off Muntok.

14 February 1942:
W-1, W2, W-3, W4 and W-5 arrive at Muntok.

15 February 1942:
The ships depart Muntok.

18 February 1942: Operation "J" - The Invasion of Java, Netherlands East Indies:
W-2 is in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto's (former CO of AOBA) 2nd Base Force's 1st MinesweepDiv 1 with W-1, W-3, W-4 and W-5 of Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo's Third Fleet, Southern Force, Netherlands East Indies Force.

21 February 1942:
Java Sea. Sweeps for mines in the Bantam Bay area in support of the invasion landings.

28 February 1942: The Battle of the Sunda Strait:
USS HOUSTON (CA-30) and Australian cruiser HMAS PERTH sortie for Tjilatjap via the Sunda Strait.

Bantam Bay. 27 transports land the main body of the IJA's 2nd Infantry Division. At 2215, USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH attack the Japanese troop transports that are screened only by destroyers HARUKAZE, HATAKAZE and FUBUKI and MineSweepDiv 1's W-1, W-2, W-3 and W-4. The escorts make smoke to mask the transports. FUBUKI charges and launches a salvo of torpedoes at USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH.

At 2300, the IJNís Western Support Force's MIKUMA and MOGAMI, destroyer SHIKINAMI, Third Escort Force's light cruiser NATORI and destroyers SHIRAKUMO, MURAKUMO, SHIRAYUKI, HATSUYUKI and ASAKAZE arrive and engage USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH with gunfire and torpedoes.

1 March 1942:
At 0108, torpedoes strike both USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH.

At 0135, torpedoes (probably from MOGAMI) sink W-2. Casualties are 1 officer, 34 enlisted men KIA and 9 crew wounded.

At 0142, HMAS PERTH sinks at 05-51-42S, 106-07-52E.

At 0206, USS HOUSTON sinks at 05-48-45S, 106-07-55E. [1]

Torpedoes also sink or disable transports SAKURA (one crewman KIA), HORAI (18 crewmen and 38 troops KIA), TATSUNO (casualties unknown) and IJA landing craft depot ship SHINSHU (RYUJO) MARUs, the latter carrying LtGen Imamura Hitoshi, Commander-in-Chief of the IJA 16th Army. Imamura jumps into the sea, but survives.

That same day, an unknown officer assumes command from Lt Ikunaga.

30 November 1945:
Removed from the Navy List.


Authors' Note:
[1] The Japanese fire about 90 torpedoes in the engagement. Based on post-battle analyses, MOGAMI's torpedoes probably sank W-2 and the four transports.

Thanks to Gilbert Casse of France. Thanks go to Don Kehn, Jr. of Texas for W-2's casualty data in Rev 5 .

-Bob Hackett and Peter Cundall.

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