FUSETSUKAN!



(TSUGARU by Takeshi Yuki scanned from "Color Paintings of Japanese Warships")

IJN Minelayer WAKATAKA:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2005-2013 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall

Revision 8


25 November 1940:
Aioi. Laid down at Harima Shipbuilding.

15 May 1941:
Assigned to the Sasebo Naval District.

12 July 1941:
Launched and named WAKATAKA.

30 November 1941:
Completed and registered in the IJN. The Chief Equipping Officer, Cdr (later Captain) Ueda Mitsuharu (45) is posted Commanding Officer.

8 December 1941:
Takao, Formosa. WAKATAKA is in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto's (39) (former CO of AOBA) 2nd Base Force of Vice Admiral Takahashi Ibo’s (36) Third Fleet.

22 December 1941:
Lingayen Gulf, Philippines. WAKATAKA engages in the invasion landings.

7 January 1942: The Invasion of Dutch Borneo:
Rear Admiral Hirose's Tarakan Occupation Force departs Davao carrying MajGen Sakaguchi Shizuo’s 56th Mixed Infantry Group (Sakaguchi Brigade) and the Kure No. 2 SNLF includes Army transports TSURUGA, LIVERPOOL, HAVANA, KURETAKE, NICHIAI, HITERU, TEIRYU (ex German AUGSBURG), HANKOW and EHIME MARUs, Navy transports KUNIKAWA, KANO, KAGU, KOKUYO and RAKUTO MARUs.

Hirose’s 2nd Base Force includes minelayers WAKATAKA, ITSUKUSHIMA and IMIZU MARU, patrol boats P-36, P-37 and P-38, MineSweepDiv 11’s W-13, W-14, W-15, W-16, MineSweepDiv 30's W-17, W-18 and SubChasDiv 31’s CH-10, CH-11 and CH-12 and other auxiliary ships.

The convoy’s escort is provided by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Nishimura Shoji’s (39) (former CO of HARUNA) 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 the SUZUKAZE. The 21st Air Flotilla’s tenders SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover.

11 January 1942:
Rear Admiral Hirose's Force invades Tarakan, Borneo.

24 January 1942: The Invasion of Balikpapan, Borneo:
Departs Tarakan with the Balikpapan invasion convoy of 16 transports carrying the Sakaguchi Brigade and the Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) escorted by DesRon 4 and Rear Admiral Hirose’s No. 2 Base Force. SANUKI and SANYO MARUs provide air cover. Hirose's Occupation Force lands and seizes Balikpapan.

10 March 1942:
Reassigned to the 22nd Base Force, Second Expeditionary Fleet, Southwest Area Fleet with Headquarters at Surabaya.

11 March 1942:
Escorts tanker GENYO MARU and KAMIKAZE and SENKO MARUs in the Macassar area.

March-April 1942:
Carries out patrol/escort duties in the Dutch East Indies area.

8 May 1942: Operation "S" – The Seizure of the Lesser Sunda Islands:
At 0900, Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Hara Kenzaburo’s (37) Lesser Sunda Islands Invasion Force departs Surabaya. The force is tactically organized in several units: CruDiv's 16 light cruiser ISUZU (flagship) and torpedo boat TOMOZURU; auxiliary seaplane tender SANYO MARU (carrying a contingent of Yokosuka No. 1 SNLF) escorted by subchaser CH-20 are the 1st Air Unit; the 2nd Air Unit is a detachment of 33rd Air Group from Surabaya. The occupation force consists of two units: No. 1, with WAKATAKA (carrying the balance of Yokosuka No. 1 SNLF) escorted by minesweeper W-12; No. 2, with Army cargo SHINGU MARU and auxiliary SHINKO MARU (both carrying IJA troops), escorted by subchasers CH-6 and CH-19.

9 May 1942:
At 0930, transits between Goagoa and Kangean Islands on her way to Lombok Island.

10 May 1942:
At 0914, after entering Alas Strait, arrives at Labuanhadji Roads, Lombok Island, anchoring there at 1010. At 2100, departs for Sumbawa Island.

13 May 1942:
At 0830, arrives at Bima Bay, Sumbawa Island. The SNLF lands and occupies Bima. At 1000, departs Bima. At 1352, departs Bima. At 1857, arrives at Linggeh Bay, Flores Island, departing later in the day.

14 May 1942:
At 0815, at Terang Bay (NE Labuhanbadjo, Flores Island) takes aboard 150 tons of coal from miscellaneous auxiliary steamer IKUSHIMA MARU (3,943 grt) and departs at 1325. At Reo and Linggeh Bays from 1550 until 1750 before returning at Terang Bay. The SNLF lands and occupies Reo.

15 May 1942:
At Linggeh Bay from 1548 to 1630. At 0929, enters Flores Strait (between Lomblen and Flores Islands) on her way to Kupang, Timor Island.

17 May 1942:
At 0910, arrives at Koepang where few minutes later a Lockheed Hudson of No. 2 Squadron RAAF from Darwin (0550) is sighted. The aircraft is carrying out from 26,000 feet a reconnaissance of the Koepang area including anchorages at Hansisi, Tenau and Koepang Bay plus the Penfui aerodrome. The Australian crew observes “[...] 5 MVs to west of wharf, 1-2,000 tons, 1-3,000 tons, 2-4,000 tons and 1-5,000 tons with small barges near shore [...]” and then leaves the area to return to base at 1200. Fearing a follow-on air attack WAKATAKA and W-12 weighed anchor with two of the MARUs to clear the area.

18 May 1942:
At 0055, the convoy turned back arriving at Koepang at 0800. At 1700, WAKATAKA and W-12 depart for Flores Island.

19 May 1942:
At 1430, arrives at Larantoeka departing later in the day.

21 May 1942:
At 0800, arrives at Terang Bay where takes aboard 150 tons of coal from IKUSHIMA MARU.

22 May 1942:
At 0625, departs Terang Bay.

23 May 1942:
From 0723 to 0923 stops at Soembawa Bay.

24 May 1942:
Between 1600 and 1800 transits through Raas Strait (between Sapudi and Raas Islands, east of Madura Island).

25 May 1942:
At 1400, arrives at Surabaya where the Lesser Sunda Islands Invasion Force is dissolved.

June-December 1942:
Carries out patrol/escort duties in the Dutch East Indies area.

25 October 1942:
Shortland. Refueled by oiler OMUROSAN MARU.

29 December 1942:
Reassigned to the 25th Base Force, Second Expeditionary Fleet, Southwest Area Fleet.

31 December 1942:
At 0800, arrives at Hollandia escorting a convoy, Dutch New Guinea just occupied by 24th Special Base Force troops.

5 January 1943:
At 1300, arrives at Ambon.

11 January 1943:
At 0200, departs Ambon.

13 January 1943:
At 1000, arrives at Manokwari.

15 January 1943:
At 1130 two Consolidated B-24D "Liberators" of the 319th BS 90th BG on armed reconnaissance appear over Manokwari and drop some bombs, but cause no damage.

26 January 1943:
At 0900, departs Manokwari.

27 January 1943:
At 1130 arrives at the assigned rendezvous point.

31 January 1943:
At 0800, the convoy arrives at Hollandia.

1 February 1943:
At 1800, departs Hollandia for an escort mission.

3 February 1943:
At 1300, arrives at Manokwari departing again at 1800 for an escort mission.

5 February 1943:
At 1140, was back at Manokwari.

8 February 1943:
At 1800, departs Manokwari for an escort mission.

11 February 1943:
At 0900 arrives at Manokwari for harbor patrol.

15 February 1943:
At 2400, departs Manokwari for an escort mission.

17 February 1943:
At 1700, arrives at Kaimana (Kamrau Gulf, SW New Guinea) leaving after three hours for escort duties. Three hours earlier a Consolidated B-24D of the 319th BS 90th BG, in the course of an armed reconnaissance to Fakfak, Bitsjaroe Bay and Kaimana, attacked two MARUs in the vicinity; intervening clouds prevented accurate estimate of success of bombing.

19 February 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Ambon.

20 February 1943:
At 2000, departs Ambon for an escort mission.

22 February 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Sorong.

26 February 1943:
Departs Sorong for an escort mission.

27 February 1943:
At 1115, arrives at Manokwari for harbor patrol.

5 March 1943:
Departs Manokwari arriving some hours later at Momi (south of Ransiki River on the western shore of Geelvink Bay).

6 March 1943:
Departs Momi and arrives at Nabire.

7 March 1943:
Departs Nabire and arrives at Serui, Yapen Island.

8 March 1943:
Departs Serui, then returns to Manokwari.

14 March 1943:
Departs Manokwari.

17 March 1943:
A Consolidated B-24D of the 319th BS 90th BG, in the course of an armed reconnaissance, sights in McCluer Gulf one 6,500 ton freighter and one minelayer (possibly WAKATAKA).

18 March 1943:
Departs McCluer Gulf (possibly Babo).

28 March 1943:
Undertakes a short convoy escort mission.

29 March 1943:
Completes convoy escort mission.

31 March 1943:
Escorts miscellaneous auxiliary KUNITAMA MARU (3,127 grt) and Army cargo TOSHIN MARU (1,917 grt) to Ambon.

2 April 1943:
Arrives at Ambon.

7 April 1943:
At 2330, departs Ambon.

9 April 1943:
At 0830, arrives at Manokwari.

13 April 1943:
At 1045, departs Manokwari to escort Italian auxiliary cruiser CALITEA II (ex-RAMB II) carrying the first echelon (346 men) of 19th Construction Unit (sailed from Hollandia on the 11th) to Matua where they build an airstrip at nearby Utarom.

15 April 1943:
At 0630, CALITEA II arrives at Matua anchorage (4 miles north of Kaimana and 2 miles north of Utarom) and after unloading leaves at 2000 with destination Soerabaya.

17 April 1943:
SW of the Vogelkopf Peninsula. At 0815, WAKATAKA parts company at 0815 and makes for Ambon.

23 April 1943:
At 1300, WAKATAKA departs Ambon escorting a convoy.

29 April 1943:
At 1445, arrives at Surabaya. Later departs port.

3 May 1943:
Arrives at Surabaya escorting a convoy. The vessel is docked soon after arrival.

18 May 1943:
Undocked.

19 May 1943:
At 1400, departs Surabaya escorting a convoy.

30 May 1943:
At 1100, arrives at Palau.

3 June 1943:
At 1420, departs Palau.

4 June 1943:
At 0600, arrives at Manokwari.

5 June 1943:
Departs Manokwari arriving at Sorong at 0800 staying in harbor carrying out patrols.

9 June 1943:
At 2120, arrives at Manokwari.

11 June 1943:
At 0700, departs Manokwari.

13 June 1943:
At 1600, arrives at Kaimana.

14 June 1943:
Before noon a Consolidated B-24D of the 319th BS 90th BG, in the course of an armed reconnaissance, sights two 2/3,000-ton MARUs and 12 barges at Kaimana before dropping a few bombs on Utarom airfield. At 1900, WAKATAKA leaves the harbor.

17 June 1943:
At 1500, arrives at Ambon.

19 June 1943:
At 1305, arrives at Manokwari for harbor patrol.

20 June 1943:
At 0800, departs Manokwari.

21 June 1943:
At 0830 arrives at Nabire and then proceeds to Sorong at 1115; she departs again in the early afternoon.

22 June 1943:
At 0750, arrives at Kokas (McCluer Gulf).

23 June 1943:
At 0630 departs Kokas and arrives at Kaimana at 1155, departing later the same day.

25 June 1943:
At 1030, arrives at Ambon.

28 June 1943:
At 1800, departs Sorong.

29 June 1943:
At 0800, departs Sorong.

7 July 1943:
At 1615, departs Sorong.

8 July 1943:
At 0800, arrives at Manokwari.

10 July 1943:
At 1200, arrives at Kaimana and departs from there at 1900.

12 July 1943:
At 1540, arrives at Ambon.

15 July 1943:
At 0600, departs Ambon.

16 July 1943:
At 1400, arrives at Sorong.

22 July 1943:
At 0800, departs Sorong to clear the approaches to the harbor in view of the arrival of auxiliary submarine tender RIO DE JANEIRO MARU from Ambon. Returns to port at 2245.

23 July 1943:
RIO DE JANEIRO MARU unloads at Sorong.

24 July 1943:
Escorts RIO DE JANEIRO MARU through Dampier Strait as far as the easternmost tip of Waigeo Island.

25 July 1943:
At 0720, WAKATAKA arrives at Ambon.

6 August 1943:
At 1200, departs Palau in convoy MU-601 consisting of miscellaneous auxiliary FUKUYAMA MARU (3,581 grt).

11 August 1943:
At 0650, arrives at Ambon.

14 August 1943:
At 0335 four Consolidated B-24Ds of the 380th BG raid Ambon city, followed at 0655 by another four-engine bomber on reconnaissance. At 1100, departs Ambon escorting Army cargo TOSHIN MARU.

17 August 1943:
At 0545, arrives at Kaimana and departs at 2205.

20 August 1943:
At 0800, arrives at Ambon.

22 August 1943:
At 2300, departs Ambon.

24 August 1943:
At 1300, arrives at Sorong.

25 August 1943:
At 1215, three Consolidated B-24Ds of the 380th BG raid Sorong harbor and Doom Island, but cause no damage to ships.

26 August 1943:
At 0630, departs Sorong.

27 August 1943:
At 1045, arrives at Ambon.

3 September 1943:
At 1630, departs Ambon.

4 September 1943:
At 1630 arrives at Boela (northeastern shore of Ceram Island).

6 September 1943:
Departs Boela and stops at Kaimana from 1400 to 1600.

8 September 1943:
At 1045, arrives at Ambon. At 2020 three Consolidated B-24Ds of the 380th BG raid the city.

10 September 1943:
At 1200, departs Ambon.

12 September 1943:
Arrives and departs Sorong.

13 September 1943:
At 1130, arrives at Kabui Bay, enclosed by Gam and Waigeo Islands.

18 September 1943:
At 1800, departs Kabui Bay.

20 September 1943:
At 0630, arrives at Ambon.

21 September 1943:
At 0600, departs Ambon.

23 September 1943:
Stops at Kaimana from 0600 to 0900.

25 September 1943:
At 1245, arrives at Ambon.

27 September 1943:
At 2000 departs Ambon.

30 September 1943:
At 0600 arrives, and at 1530 departs Matua Anchorage, SW New Guinea.

10 October 1943:
At 1000, arrives at Ambon.

12 October 1943:
At 0700, departs Ambon.

14 October 1943:
WAKATAKA departs Cebu escorting convoy H-2 to Kau Bay, Halmahera Island consisting of HAMBURG, SUEZ, WAKATSU (ex Greek ANDREAS) and YUBAE MARUs. [For Komamiya the convoy departed Manila on the 12th and arrived at Cebu on the 14th escorted by patrol boat P-103. After unloading it departed again on the 27th for Kau with a new escort, the WAKATAKA, but evidently the change-over took place later in the Celebes Sea].

15 October 1943:
At 1545, arrives at Palau.

18 October 1943:
At 1600, departs Palau.

22 October 1943:
At 1350, arrives at Matua Anchorage and at 1535 anchored at nearby Kaimana.

23 October 1943:
At 1030, departs Kaimana.

25 October 1943:
At 1700, arrives at Ambon.

27 October 1943:
At 0700, departs Ambon.

29 October 1943:
At 1200, arrives at Kau, Halmahera Island, for harbor patrol.

9 November 1943:
At 0500, departs Kau escorting convoy H-2 consisting of HAMBURG, SUEZ, WAKATSU (ex Greek ANDREAS) and YUBAE MARUs (sailed from Cebu on the 27th). The convoy is carrying the 2nd Field Airfield Construction Command, 14th Field Airfield Construction Unit, 15th Field Airfield Construction Unit and 108th Field Airfield Construction Unit

11 November 1943:
At 1635, convoy arrives at Manokwari.

12 November 1943:
At 1600, departs Manokwari.

15 November 1943:
At 0725, arrives at Kau.

17 November 1943:
At 1600, departs Kau escorting convoy H-4 consisting of SHINWA MARU and other unidentified merchant ships.

20 November 1943:
At 1330, arrives at Manokwari and departs at 1700.

21 November 1943:
At 1340, arrives at Sorong and departs in the evening.

23 November 1943:
Off Kau Bay, Halmahera Island. WAKATAKA, in cooperation with a Japanese aircraft, attack a suspected submarine contact with inconclusive results. A single Mitsubishi Type 0 observation floatplane of 934th Air Group Detachment based at Gurua (Wasile Bay), takes off at 0800 for a routine anti-submarine mission, and after dropping two 60-kg bombs at 0910, returns to base at 1200. [1]

At 1400, WAKATAKA arrives at Kau.

26 November 1943:
At 0600, WAKATAKA departs Wasile with auxiliary special minesweeper CHa-9 escorting a convoy consisting of ECHIZEN and MADRAS MARUs and one unidentified Naval controlled merchant ship.

28 November 1943:
At 1700, the convoy arrive at Sorong.

30 November 1943:
At 0600, departs Sorong escorting three unidentified merchant ships (likely ECHIZEN and MADRAS MARUs and one unidentified Naval controlled merchant ship). Reassigned to the 25th Base Force, Fourth Expeditionary Fleet, Southwest Area Fleet. That same day, Captain (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Saito Taizo (46) assumes command.

2 December 1943:
At 0700, arrives at Kau.

6 December 1943:
At 0530, WAKATAKA departs Kau, Halmahera for Manokwari, New Guinea escorting convoy No. 1 consisting of CELEBES, HAMBURG and ADEN MARUs carrying the first echelon of the IJA's 36th Division.

8 December 1943:
At 2030, arrives at Manokwari. Unloads troops and cargo.

11 December 1943:
At 0520, the same convoy departs Manokwari.

13 December 1943:
At 1715, arrives at Kau.

21 December 1943:
At 0200, WAKATAKA departs Kau, Halmahera for Manokwari escorting convoy No. 2 consisting of KENWA, NICHIWA and TONEGAWA MARUs and possibly three unidentified Army operated merchant ships carrying the second echelon of the IJA's 36th Division.

23 December 1943:
Arrives at Manokwari. Unloads troops and cargo.

24 December 1943:
The same convoy departs Manokwari carrying troops, including men from the 222nd Infantry, 36th Division, a tank unit in the 36th Division, the 51st Field Construction Unit, the 41 Specially Established Land Duty Company and others.

26 December 1943:
At 1530, arrives at Sarmi, New Guinea. The ships were unloaded by elements of the 11th Debarcation Unit.

29 December 1943:
At 1400, the same convoy departs Sarmi.

2 January 1944:
Arrives at Kau.

15 January 1944:
At 1350, WAKATAKA departs Kau for Manokwari escorting convoy No. 14 consisting of NANKA and TAISOKU MARUs and SHINSEI MARU No. 17.

17 January 1944:
NANKA MARU is detached and arrives at Sorong that same day. Later that day, NANKA MARU is damaged in an air attack and undergoes repairs.

19 January 1944:
The remainder of the convoy arrives at Manokwari at 0435 and and depart later in the day at 0750.

20 January 1944:
At 1335, arrives at Kau.

21 January 1944:
At 0900, WAKATAKA arrives at Wasile.

27 January 1944:
At Sorong NANKA MARU is damaged in an air attack carried out in the course of a series of armed reconnaissances by six Consolidated B-24Ds of 529th BS 380th BG and undergoes repairs.

30 January 1944:
At 0650, WAKATAKA departs Kau escorting a convoy consisting of MOJI, KENWA and TONEGAWA MARUs.

E 31 January 1944:
Arrives at Ambon, Moluccas. WAKATAKA then departs to join an earlier convoy enroute to Kau froms Sorong (convoy A). WAKATAKA is delayed. Later, she departs and at 1530, joins repaired NANKA MARU and TACOMA MARU, SHINSEI MARU No. 5 and SHINSEI MARU No. 17 escorted by minelayer AOTAKA and auxiliary minesweeper Wa-10.

1 February 1944:
At 0225, LtCdr John C. Broach's (USNA ’27) USS HAKE (USS-256) torpedoes and sinks NANKA (with 258 out of 815 Formosa Giyu Corps troops, 6 crewmen and one gunner KIA) and TACOMA MARUs (with two crewmen KIA) at 01-32N, 128-50E. That same day, the remainder of the convoy arrives at Kau. Meanwhile WAKATAKA has detached and arrives back at Ambon at 1235 escorting KENWA and TONEGAWA MARUs.

2 February 1944:
At 2200, WAKATAKA and auxiliary netlayer HINOKI MARU departs Ambon escorting a convoy consisting of CHUKA, CELEBES and ASAKA MARUs (arrived there on 31 January from Surabaya escorted by ITSUKUSHIMA).

5 February 1944:
At 1600, the convoy arrives at Wasile.

10 February 1944:
At 0600, WAKATAKA departs Wasile in a convoy consisting of NIKKI, CHUKA and MOJI MARUs.

At 2340, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from the CO of WAKATAKA that reads: “At 2239 received a torpedo attack in position 01-43N, 129-30E. Dropped 9 depth charges. Results unknown. No damage to us.” This was another attack by USS HAKE. LtCdr Broach claimed a hit on a cargo ship forward of the bridge.

13 February 1944:
At 0300, arrives at Manokwari.

14 February 1944:
At 0700, departs Manokwari escorting NIKKI and MOJI MARUs.

15 February 1944:
At 0900, arrives at Bosnek, southeast shore of Biak Island.

17 February 1944:
At 1000, departs Bosnek escorting the same two ships.

18 February 1944:
At 0830, arrives at Sarmi.

21 February 1944:
At 1700, WAKATAKA departs Sarmi for Manokwari escorting a convoy consisting of NIKKI and MOJI MARUs carrying elements of the IJA's 36th Division.

22 February 1944:
At 2233, LtCdr Cyrus C. Cole's (USNA ’35) USS BALAO (SS-285) torpedoes and sinks NIKKI MARU carrying a Company of the 36th Division, shipping officials and stevedores, at 00-11N, 135-54E. The ship began sinking by the stern at a 45 degree angle. At 2327 the ship sank. More than 50 troops and eight crewmen are killed. The ship’s captain lashed himself to the compass but when the ship sank the ship split abaft the bridge causing the stern to rise to the surface so the Captain miraculously survives. MOJI MARU escapes and makes Manokwari the next day. WAKATAKA foregoes counter-attacking the submarine and begins rescue operations.

23 February 1944:
At 1700, WAKATAKA and MOJI MARU arrive at Manokwari.

24-25 February 1944:
WAKATAKA departs Manokwari at 0000 and continues rescue operations. By the 25th, she rescues 141 men.

26 February 1944:
At 1530 arrives at Kau accompanied by CHUKA and MOJI MARUs.

2 March 1944:
At 0240, departs Ambon.

5 March 1944:
From 0630 to 2200 stops at Rumboi Bay (01-05S, 134-49E) on the SW-coast of Noemfoor Island (SE Manokwari).

7 March 1944:
At 1800 departs Wasile with auxilary submarine chaser TAKUNAN MARU No. 5 escorting a convoy consisting of TSUKIKAWA, ASAKA, CHUKA MARUs and one unidentified Army merchant ship.

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 consisting of TSUKIKAWA, CHUKA and ASAKA MARUs and one unidentified ship screened by WAKATAKA and subchaser TAKUNAN MARU No. 5. At 1140, Griffith sets up and fires six bow tubes, but four of his unreliable Mark 14-3A torpedoes explode prematurely. A twin-engine Japanese bomber appears and forces USS BOWFIN under.

The escorts counterattack and drop 24 DCs near USS BOWFIN, but do no debilitating damage. One of the Japanese drags a grapnel or chain across USS BOWFIN’s hull at some 350 feet below the surface. 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 of BuOrd’s finest threatens her by making a circular run. Griffith dives.

At 1325, USN codebreakers 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, USN codebreakers intercept and 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, codebreakers intercept and 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 .” [2]

11 March 1944:
Griffith attacks the freighter again, but the escorts drove USS BOWFIN down once more. Later that day, USS BOWFIN finishes off the 4,470-ton TSUKIKAWA MARU with four torpedoes. Four troops and two crewmen are killed.

At 0239, codebreakers 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.”

12 March 1944:
At 0100, USN codebreakers decrypt a message from WAKATAKA that reads: "At 0026, discovered submerged enemy submarine and immediately thereafter two torpedoes exploded about 1000 meters off port bow. We suffered no damage. Position 02-46S, 127-28E. No. 5 TAKUNAN MARU is to attack. We are fleeing with the ASAKA MARU.” At 1500, WAKATAKA arrives at Ambon.

13 March 1944:
At 0030 departs Ambon escorting four unidentified Army merchant ships.

15 March 1944:
At 1600 returns to Ambon.

19 March 1944:
At 0600, departs Ambon.

23 March 1944:
At 0230 arrives at Wasile.

1 April 1944:
At 0810 arrives at Ambon.

2 April 1944:
Departs Ambon.

7 April 1944:
At 1030 arrives at Kau.

11 April 1944:
At 1500 departs Wasile.

14 April 1944:
At 0600 arrives at Bosnek.

17 April 1944:
At 0000 departs Bosnek and at 1600 arrives at Manokwari escorting a single Navy operated merchant ship.

19 April 1944:
At 0555, WAKATAKA and minesweeper W-4 depart Manokwari for Halmahera escorting a convoy consisting of ANSHU and TENSHO MARUs.

20 April 1944:
Arrives at Kabui Bay, southern Waigeo Island.

21 April 1944:
Departs Kabui Bay escorting a convoy still consisting of ANSHU and TENSHO MARUs.

23 April 1944:
Arrives at Kau, Halmahera Island.

27 April 1944:
At 1800 departs Wasile with minesweeper W-4 escorting ANSHU MARU and probably TENSHO MARU.

30 April 1944:
At 1200 arrives at Manokwari.

9 May 1944:
At 2200, departs Kau.

15 May 1944:
At 1800, arrives at Ambon.

21 May 1944:
At 1100, arrives at Macassar.

29 May 1944:
At 0630, departs Macassar.

1 June 1944:
At 1115, arrives at Surabaya for drydocking and overhaul by IJN’s No. 102 Repair Unit.

28 June 1944:
Repairs completed.

1 July 1944:
At 1030 departs Surabaya escorting a convoy consisting of tanker IKUTA MARU and SEIA MARU.

4 July 1944:
At 0400, arrives at Kotabaru, Laut Island, SE Borneo.

5 July 1944:
At 0630, WAKATAKA departs Kotabaru for Macassar, Celebes escorting a convoy consisting of TAIKO and TAKASAN MARUs and UNKAI MARU No. 12.

6 July 1944:
At 2100, the convoy arrives at Macassar.

11 July 1944:
At 1000, WAKATAKA departs Macassar for Kendari, Celebes with cable-layer TATEISHI and minesweeper W-11 escorting TAIKO MARU.

14 July 1944:
At 1237, LtCdr Malcomb E. Garrison's (USNA ’32) USS SAND LANCE (SS-381) torpedoes and sinks TAIKO MARU with all hands at 05-56N, 121-34E. The escorts counter-attack unsuccessfully. At 1800, WAKATAKA anchors at Staring Bay.

16 July 1944:
At 1800, departs Staring Bay escorting one unidentified Naval merchant ship.

22 July 1944:
At 1335 arrives at Ambon.

24 July 1944:
At 0830, WAKATAKA departs Ambon, Ceram Island for Bitung (Lembeh Strait), north-easternmost tip of Celebes, with minesweeper W-22, auxiliary Minesweeper Wa-3 and Submarine Chaser CH-60 escorting a convoy consisting of TOYO, TAIKAI and SHINSEI MARUs.

1 August 1944:
At 1800 arrives at Bitung.

2 August 1944:
At 1700, departs Bitung.

3 August 1944:
From 1030 to 2200 shelters at Tabulu Island (01-46S, 125-33E) off the N-coast of Mangole Island.

5 August 1944:
At 1015, arrives at Ambon.

7 August 1944:
At 1300, departs Ambon with submarine chasers CH-26 and CH-60 and auxiliary submarine chaser CHa-116 escorting a convoy consisting of auxiliary cargo ship KEMBU (TATEBE) MARU (4,519 grt), TAIAN and KINREI MARUs and UNKAI MARU No. 12.

9 August 1944:
At 1330, arrives at Bitung. At 1600 arrives at Staring Bay.

11 August 1944:
At 0300, departs Staring Bay.

12 August 1944:
At 1100, arrives at Ambon.

14 August 1944:
At 1400 departs Ambon.

17 August 1944:
At 1400, arrives at Bitung.

18 August 1944:
At 1800, departs Bitung.

20 August 1944:
At 1730, arrives at Davao, Mindanao.

22 August 1944:
At 1900, departs Davao.

24 August 1944:
At 1630, arrives at Bitung where according to GHB telegram order No. 55 is ordered to provide assistance to minelayer ITSUKUSHIMA damaged (1215-1230) by North American B-25s of 345th BG while at anchor in Lembeh Strait.

30 August 1944:
At 1525, departs Bitung.

1 September 1944:
At 1710, returns to Bitung .

2 September 1944:
At 1110, departs Bitung departs Bitung escorting damaged minelayer ITSUKUSHIMA following a route through Bangka Strait along N-coast of Minahasa Peninsula, N Celebes.

5 September 1944:
At 0800, arrives at Bolaangoeki-Bay (00-50N, 123-56E).

8 September 1944:
Arrives at Paleleh on N coast of Minahasa Peninsula (01-04N, 121-55E).

9 September 1944:
Arrives at Boesak village on N coast of Minahasa Peninsula. (01-16N, 121-20E).

10 September 1944:
At 0630 departs Boesak and at 1730 arrives at Tolitoli NW Celebes.

15 September 1944:
At 1300, WAKATAKA departs Tolitoli towing ITSUKUSHIMA.

16 September 1944:
Moves to a better sheltered place such Pagalungian Bay (00-48N, 120-34E) at the southeasternmost part of Dondo Bay.

4 October 1944:
USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from the CO of WAKATAKA that reads, “At 2320, one PBY attacked and ITSUKUSHIMA suffered one bomb hit. The damage is given in ITSUKUSHIMA’s 040350. [3] As a result of this I am towing ITSUKUSHIMA [...]”

At 0530, WAKATAKA departs Pagalungian Bay, Celebes for Surabaya towing minelayer ITSUKUSHIMA.

5 October 1944:
Arrives at Dangulan Bay (00-30 N, 120-00 E).

6 October 1944:
Departs Dangulan Bay.

6 October 1944:
Arrives at Palu Bay.

7 October 1944:
Departs Palu Bay.

7 October 1944:
Arrives at Mamudju Bay.

8 October 1944:
Departs Mamudju Bay.

9 October 1944:
Arrives at Mandar Bay.

10 October 1944:
Departs Mandar Bay.

11 October 1944:
Arrives at Makassar.

12 October 1944:
Departs Makassar.

13 October 1944:
Arrives at Doangdoangan Island.

14 October 1944:
Departs Doangdoangan Island.

17 October 1944:
Java Sea. E of Bawean Island. Lookouts aboard Ltz I Hendrikus A. W. Goossens' Dutch submarine HNMS ZWAARDVISCH (ex-British HMS TALENT) spot a minelayer flanked by escorts, probably heading for Surabaya. Goossens sights a tugboat a mile and half away. It is dragging a towline that leads to the minelayer. He sets up to attack the minelayer with a spread of five torpedoes, but an opportunity presents itself to hit an escort as well. Goossens fires three torpedoes at ITSUKUSHIMA and two at the escort.

ITSUKUSHIMA is hit by one torpedo and sinks at 05-23S, 113-48E. WAKATAKA is also hit in the bow and damaged, possibly by a dud torpedo. Subchaser CH-26 carries out a determined counterattack, dropping a pattern of 18 depth charges. After several hours, Goossens comes to periscope depth, but is attacked again, this time with 16 depth charges. The sea floor is only 195 feet deep, but ZWAARDVISCH escapes. [4]

Late-October 1944:
Arrives at Surabaya to undergo repairs by IJN’s No. 102 Repair Unit.

1 February 1945:
An unknown officer assumes command.

8 March 1945:
Completes repairs.

10 March 1945:
Reassigned to the 25th Base Force, 10th Area Fleet.

25 March 1945:
S of Kangean Island, Sumbawa. LtCdr G. C. Clarabut’s HMS STYGIAN torpedoes and blows the bow off WAKATAKA at 07-09S, 115-23E.

27 March 1945:
At, 132?, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from the CO of WAKATAKA that reads: torpedoed below No. 1 gun from 120 degrees on the port in position 07-09S, 115-23 E at 0720 No damage to ------ out of action and maximum speed about 8 knots. ----- there are about 20 casualties including army and naval passengers.”

1 April 1945:
Arrives at Surabaya, Java. The IJN’s No. 102 Repair Unit fabricates and installs a false bow before the breakwater, shortening the hull by about 5-6 meters; a windlass from a merchant ship is installed on the foredeck.

5 July 1945:
Reassigned to the Second Expeditionary Fleet, Southwest Area Fleet.

15 August 1945:
Surabaya. WAKATAKA is still undergoing repairs due to an acute shortage of materials.

25 October 1945:
At 1515, the first troops of the 49th Indian Infantry Brigade land at Surabaya to protect the evacuation of Dutch citizens and Allied POWs. Among the occupied key-points is the Naval Base.

10-29 November 1945:
The 5th Indian Division occupies Surabaya to sedate the Indonesian rebellion.

2 February 1946:
Used as a demobilization transport. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated. Departs Singapore. [5]

5 February 1946:
Arrives at Labuan. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated and departs later that day.

9 February 1946:
Arrives at Kuching. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated and departs later that day.

14 February 1946:
Arrives at Otaka. Disembarks troops and passengers.

1 March 1946:
Removed from the Navy List.

3 March 1946:
Undergoes repairs at Kagoshima.

12 April 1946:
Repairs are completed.

16 April 1946:
Departs Sasebo.

21 April 1946:
Arrives at Manila. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

22 April 1946:
Departs Manila.

25 April 1946:
Arrives at Saigon. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

26 April 1946:
Departs Saigon.

1 May 1946:
Arrives at Takao. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

3 May 1946:
Departs Takao.

8 May 1946:
Arrives at Saigon. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

10 May 1946:
Departs Saigon.

19 May 1946:
Arrives at Otaka. Disembarks troops and passengers.

24 May 1946:
Departs Kure.

1 June 1946:
Arrives at St Jacques. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

3 June 1946:
Departs St Jacques.

6 June 1946:
Arrives at Bangkok and departs later the same day.

19 June 1946:
Arrives at Uraga. Disembarks troops and passengers.

4 July 1946:
Undergoes repairs at Sasebo.

20 September 1946:
Repairs are completed.

24 September 1946:
Departs Sasebo.

27 September 1946:
Arrives at Nakasuka Bay, Okinawa. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

2 October 1946:
Departs Nakasusuka Bay.

11 October 1946:
Arrives at Singapore. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated and departs later the same day.

13 October 1946:
Arrives at Medan. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

17 October 1946:
Departs Medan.

20 October 1946:
Arrives at Palembang. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

21 October 1946:
Departs Palembang.

27 October 1946:
Arrives at Bangkok. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

29 October 1946:
Departs Bangkok.

3 November 1946:
Arrives at Singapore. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

7 November 1946:
Departs Singapore.

9 November 1946:
Arrives at Palembang. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated.

10 November 1946:
Departs Palembang.

13 November 1946:
Arrives at Singapore.

16 November 1946:
Departs Singapore.

22 November 1946:
Arrives at Hong Kong. Embarks troops and passengers to be repatriated and departs later that day.

27 November 1946:
Arrives Sasebo. Disembarks troops and passengers and completes demobilization duty.

1 December 1946:
Undergoes repairs at Kagoshima.

10 January 1947:
Repairs are completed.

17 October 1947:
Ceded to the United Kingdom as war compensation.

24 December 1948:
Singapore Government raised Malayan Naval Force.

September 1949:
Renamed H.M.M.S. LABURNUM and serves in the MVF.

1951:
Serves as drill ship with the Singapore and Malayan Navy Volunteer Force under Royal Navy control.

August 1952:
Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the title "Royal Malayan Navy" to the Malayan Naval Force in recognition of the sterling service in action during the Malayan Emergency .

1956:
H.M.M.S. LABURNUM is removed from active service.

16 February 1963:
Singapore becames a state of Malaysia and the Malayan Navy becomes the Royal Malaysian Navy.

22 September 1963:
The Singapore division of the Malayan Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve is formally transferred from the command of the Royal Navy to the Royal Malaysian Navy, thus becoming the Singapore Volunteer Force.

9 August 1965:
Singapore separates from Malaysia to form an independent and sovereign nation within the Commonwealth.

1 January 1966:
The Singapore Division of the Malayan Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve is formed into the Singapore Naval Volunteer Force (SNVF). While berthed at Telok Ayer Basin, LABURNUM is used as training platform.

5 May 1967:
LABURNUM is recommissioned as RSS SINGAPURA with an all-white livery; she is presented to the SNVF and berthed at Telok Ayer Basin to act as SNVF Headquarters.

Mid-1968:
RSS SINGAPURA is sold and then scrapped. SNVF Headquarters moves ashore at Pulau Blakang Mati (Sentosa Island).


Authors’ Notes:
[1] On 17 Nov ’43, LtCdr Elliot E Marshall’s (USNA ’31) USS CAPELIN (SS-289) departed Darwin for the Celebes Sea and was never heard from again. Since she was the only American submarine in the attack area, it is possible, but unproven, that she was lost in WAKATAKA’s attack.

[2] CNO says TSUKIKAWA MARU sank at 1937.

[3] ITSUKUSHIMA’s report of 040350 reads, “At 22(?51) engaged one enemy Catalina aircraft --- --- obtained direct hit. Damage incurred: mines penetrated the upper deck. Deck ---- damaged; breaches of diameter about 5 meters; no---. Killed: 30 men ----. Seriously wounded: about 50 men”.

The USN flying boat belonged to VP-33 based at Middleburg Island with tender USS ORCA (AVP-49). The PBY, commanded by Lt Sumpter, reported sighting two cruisers and two destroyers in Tolitoli Bay. Instead of making a run from the sea, he opted from an attack using the terrain as cover. When the aircraft was half-mile away from the target, the Japanese warships opened fire. Lt Sumpter headed for what he identified as a “Katori-Class” cruiser and from 125 feet released all his bomb load which was seen to strike the vessel. Lt Sumpter took the Catalina down to sea level and then made for Middleburg.

[4] At 1805 on 22 October, USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt the following message: “At 1058, 17th, Subchaser #2 [CH-2] in command of Subchaser #26 [CH-26] detected and attacked the enemy submarine which attacked ITSUKUSHIMA and WAKATAKA with torpedoes. Subchasers sank the submarine definitely at 1337, 18th in position 05-22 S, 113-55 E”.

[5] Allied occupation forces were responsible for the return of six million Japanese military personnel and civilians from Japan's defunct far-flung Empire. In addition, there were over a million Korean and about 40,000 Chinese prisoners and conscript laborers and approximately 7,000 Formosans and 15,000 Ryukyu Islanders to be repatriated.

Some Allied and many former IJN warships, from aircraft carriers to kaibokan, were used to facilitate the enormous repatriation effort. Japanese vessels and crews were used to the fullest extent possible to conserve Allied manpower and accelerate demobilization. Each ex-IJN ship first had to be demilitarized; guns removed or, in the case of large warships, barrels severed, ammunition landed, and radar and catapults removed, if fitted. Repatriation of the Chinese on Japanese ships began early in October from Hakata, but U.S. guard detachments had to be placed on many ships to prevent disorder because the Japanese crews could not control the returnees.

Japanese-run repatriation centers were established at Kagoshima, Hario near Sasebo, and Hakata near Fukuoka. Other reception centers were established and operated at Maizuru, Shimonoseki, Sasebo, Senzaki, Kure, Uraga, Yokohama, Moji and Hakodate. Allied line and medical personnel supervised the centers. Incoming Japanese were sprayed with DDT, examined and inoculated for typhus and smallpox, provided with food, and transported to his final destination in Japan.

Thanks go to John Whitman of the USA for info on CNO intercepts of Japanese messages. Thanks also go to Luke G.A. Ruffato and Erich Muehlthaler for info in Revision 3 and to Mr. Gilbert Casse of France for general assistance. Thanks also to Mr. Matthew Jones of USA for some CO details and to Mr. John Whitman for unit details.

Special thanks go to Luke G.A. Ruffato for the major rewrite of this TROM as contained in Revision 4.

-Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall


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