RIKUGUN BOKU KIKANSEN

(YASUKAWA MARU)

IJA AA Transport YASUKAWA MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2011-2013 Bob Hackett and Gilbert Casse
Revision 1


1930:
Queen’s Island, Belfast, Ireland. Laid down by Harland & Wolff, Ltd. as a 6,770 passenger-cargo ship for the Silver Line, London. During that year, the Silver Line and the Java Pacific fleets of Rotterdam Lloyd and Nederland Stoomvaarts come to an agreement whereby their combined fleets are named Silver Java Pacific, Co.

December 1930:
Launched and named SILVERCYPRESS.

E 1931:
Completed and placed on the Silver Line's around the world service in conjunction with several other companies. This service consists of calls at New York, Hampton Roads, Savannah, Los Angeles, Manila, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Cebu, Davao, Makassar, Surabaya, Samarang, Batavia (Jakarta), Singapore, Port Swettenham, Belawan Deli, Penang, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Halifax, Boston and back to New York.

24 November 1931:
Arrives at Singapore.

30 November 1931:
Departs Singapore via the Suez Canal for New York.

1 December 1932:
Arrives at New York.

13 January 1937:
Philippines. During a voyage from New York for Manila, Shanghai and Hong Kong, a fire starts in SILVERCYPRESS’ engine room and spreads to cargo stowed in the hold forward of the engine room. The fire continues for seven days, destroying the entire aft half of the ship and damaging her main motors. SILVERCYPRESS is beached, still afire, in shallow water at Guimaras Island. [1][2]

1937:
SILVERCYPRESS is towed to Manila. The insurance underwriters condemn the ship as a comprehensive total loss. and sell the hulk for its scrap iron value to Miyachi Shoten, K.K. ship breakers who tow it to Japan.

1938:
The hulk is sold to Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, K. K., Kobe. After a thorough investigation, Kawasaki decides to have the hull, main motors and auxiliary machinery repaired.

1939:
Tsurumi, Yokohama. After 20 months, repairs are completed and she is renamed YASUKAWA MARU.

6 December 1939:
YASUKUWA MARU makes her public trials

14 December 1939:
Trials are successful. Her home port is Kobe.

16 December 1939:
Departs Yokokama and arrives the same day at Kobe. Departs later and calls at Osaka before returning to Kobe.

18 December 1939:
Departs Osaka for the Port of Dairen (Dalian), Manchuria on her first voyage for Kawasaki's “K” Line. Later, she is placed in their service between Japan and North America.

E 1940:
Placed on the Kawasaki's South America commercial service, later on North American Pacific coast line and finally on South America West coast line.

E February 1941:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA).

E March-July 1941:
Engaged in landing operations in China at Zhenhai and Fuzhou.

E August 1941:
Requisitioned by the IJA and assigned ship No. 870. Later, converted to a Boku Kikansen (anti-aircraft) ship (A-AK/AA). Fitted with six IJA Type 88 75-mm AA and eight IJA Type 98 20-mm AA machine-cannons.

13 November 1941:
Departs Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture.

8 December 1941: Operation "M" - The Attack on the Southern Philippines:
At 0800, YASUKAWA MARU departs Peleliu, Palau Islands for Legaspi, Luzon, Philippines in Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kubo Kyuji 's (38)(former CO of KAGA) Fourth Surprise Attack Force with IJA transports MATSUMOTO, HARUNA, SHINANOGAWA and MYOKO MARUs and IJN transports SHINRYU and YAMAFUKU MARUs. The transports carry 2,500 men of MajGen Kimura Naoki's 16th Infantry Division's 33rd Infantry Regiment, a battery of the 22d Field Artillery and engineer detachments accompanied by 575 men of the Kure No. 1 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF).

Kubo’s force is escorted by light cruiser NAGARA (F), DesDiv 24's KAWAKAZE, SUZUKAZE, UMIKAZE and YAMAKAZE and minelayer AOTAKA. Kubo’s force is also accompanied by oiler IJN HAYATOMO and DesDiv 16’s YUKIKAZE and TOKITSUKAZE. Seaplane tenders CHITOSE and MIZUHO provide air cover.

11 December 1941:
Off Western Luzon, Philippines. En route to Legaspi, the convoy’s destroyers refuel from oiler HAYATOMO.

12 December 1941:
At 0400, A submarine is detected near the landing force. AOTAKA and patrol boat PB-34 are briefly detached for a depth-charge attack. At about 1200, Kubo's Fourth Surprise Attack Force begin landing troops at Legaspi without opposition. YASUKAWA MARU lands troops of the Kure No. 1 SNLF. HARUNA, MATSUMOTO, MYOKO, SHINRYU, SHINANOGAWA and YAMAFUKU MARUs land troops of the 16th Infantry Division.

USAAF B-17 “Flying Fortess” heavy bombers raid the convoy. YASUKAWA MARU suffers some water leakage caused by a near miss of a bomb.

17 December 1941:
Departs Legaspi for Takao, Formosa (now Kaohsiung, Taiwan).

21 December 1941:
Arrives at Takao.

30 December 1941:
Departs Takao for Lingayen Gulf, Luzon.

1 January 1942:
Arrives at Lingayen Gulf.

10 January 1942:
Departs Lingayen Gulf.

21 January 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

26 January 1942:
Departs Takao for Batan Island, Philippines.

27 January 1942:
Arrives at Batan. Departs later for Takao.

28 January 1942:
Arrives at Takao.

1 February 1942:
Departs Takao and arrives the same day at Lingayen Gulf. Departs at an unknown date for Jolo Island, Philippines.

1 February 1942:
Departs Takao and arrives the same day at Lingayen Gulf. Departs at an unknown date for Jolo.

19 February 1942:
Departs Jolo for Kragan, East Java.

1 March 1942: Operation “J” - The Invasion of Java:
100 miles W of Surabaya, Java. At 0015, the Eastern Java Invasion Force consisting of 43 transports including YASUKAWA and ARIZONA MARUs lands elements of the IJA's 48th Infantry Division on Kragan, East Java.

8 March 1942:
Departs Kragan for Singapore.

13 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

15 March 1942:
Departs Singapore for Muntok, Bangka Island, N.E.I.

18 March 1942:
Arrives at Muntok. Later, departs for Singapore.

20 March 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

2 April 1942:
Departs Singapore for Bali, N.E.I..

7 April 1942:
Arrives at Bali.

9 April 1942:
Departs Bali for Singapore.

13 April 1942:
Arrives at Singapore.

28 April 1942:
Departs Singapore for Ujina, Hiroshima Prefecture.

9 May 1942:
Arrives at Ujina.

13 May 1942:
Enters Osaka Shipyard K.K. dock for maintenance and repairs.

30 May 1942:
Undocked. Departs Ujina for Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, Kyushu.

E June 1942:
Arrives at Karatsu.

6 June 1942: Operation FS - Planned Japanese Invasion of Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia:
At 1500, YASUKAWA MARU departs Karatsu Bay, Kyushu for Palau in an unidentified convoy also consisting of ARIZONA, OIGAWA, SANKO, MYOKO and BRISBANE MARUs escorted by destroyer YUNAGI, minelayer HIRASHIMA, auxiliary minelayer KAHOKU MARU and an unidentified minesweeper.

13 June 1942:
Arrives at Palau. It was planned that the convoy would proceed from Palau to Rabaul to participate in the invasion of New Caledonia in July, but the Coral Sea action and the disaster at Midway causes postponement, and later cancellation, of Operation FS.

25 June 1942:
Departs Palau for Davao, Mindanao, Philippines.

27 June 1942:
Arrives at Davao.

2 July 1942:
At 1200, YASUKAWA MARU departs Davao, Philippines for Palau in an unidentified convoy also consisting of KAZUURA, MYOKO, RYOYO, SASAGO and AYATOSAN MARUs escorted by torpedo boat TOMOZURU.

4 July 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

7 July 1942:
Departs Palau for Manila.

10 July 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

17 July 1942:
Departs Manila for Hong Kong.

22 July 1942:
Arrives at Hong Kong. Departs later for Manila.

24 July 1942:
Arrives at Manila.

26 July 1942:
Departs Manila for Davao.

31 July 1942:
Arrives at Davao.

2 August 1942:
Departs Davao for Palau.

5 August 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

10 August 1942:
Departs Palau for Rabaul, New Britain carrying the “Yazawa Detachment”, the 41st Infantry Rgt under its commander, Col. Kiyomi Yazawa.

16 August 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

19 August 1942:
YASUKAWA MARU departs Rabaul for Basabua, New Guinea in an unidentified convoy. The convoy carries the 41st Infantry Regiment's headquarters troops, two battalions of the regiment, a gun unit, signals, ordnance and motor transport troops and about 100 men of the Sasebo 5th Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF). Also aboard are a bridge-building and road-construction unit, a veterinary hospital, water supply and purification unit, about 200 natives of Rabaul, 200 horses, several hundred cases of ammunition, five tons of medical supplies, a quantity of gasoline in drums and large stores of food and fodder.

21 August 1942:
The convoy arrives at Basabua in the midst of a storm and unloads safely. That night, two battalions of the 41st Infantry Regiment bivouac at Popondetta about 15 miles SE of the anchorage.

22 August 1942:
The convoy departs Basabua for Rabaul.

23 August 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

25 August 1942:
YASUKAWA MARU departs Rabaul for Basabua in an unidentified convoy also consisting of IJA transport MYOKO MARU with unidentified escort. The convoy carries the 41st Infantry Regiment’s 3rd battalion, ammunition, medical supplies, gasoline in drums and stores of food and fodder.

26 August 1942:
Part way to its destination, the landing is aborted and the convoy is recalled. The convoy arrives back at Rabaul later that day.

31 August 1942:
The convoy departs Rabaul again for Basabua.

2 September 1942:
Arrives at Basabua and landings proceed again without interference by Allied aircraft.

3 September 1942:
Departs Basabua for Rabaul.

4 September 1942:
Arrives safely back at Rabaul.

17 September 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Palau in an unidentified convoy also consisting of IJA transport MYOKO MARU with unidentified escort. The convoy convoy steams empty.

22 September 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

27 September 1942:
Departs Palau for Rabaul.

2 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

6 October 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Ereventa, Bougainville Island, Solomons.

7 October 1942:
Arrives at Ereventa.

13 October 1942:
Tonolei Harbor, E of Buin, Bougainville. YASUKAWA MARU is attacked by six B-17E “Flying Fortress” heavy bombers of the USAAF 26th and 431st Bomb Squadrons from Luganville Airfield, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides and near-missed, but not damaged. Earlier, the bombers had attacked nearby Buka airfield.

16 October 1942:
Departs Bougainville for Rabaul.

17 October 1942:
Arrives at Rabaul.

30 October 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Basabua.

1 November 1942:
Departs Rabaul for Basabua, New Guinea. Lands troops and supplies, food and other sundries.

2 November 1942:
Basabua, Huon Gulf, NE of Buna, New Guinea. From about 0800 to about 1400, USAAF 5th Air Force B-17 heavy bombers make several raids in the Buna area.

YASUKAWA MARU's forward Type 88 75-mm AA gunners, who had been drinking beer, accidentally disable their gun. The fourth wave of bombs hits her No. 3 hold and the engine room and renders her unnavigable. YASUKAWA MARU drifts and is later scuttled by an unidentified torpedo boat in Dampier Straits at 08-41S, 148-27E. [3]


Authors’ Notes:
[1] Sources conflict about the events of 13 January 1937. One sources says SILVERCYPRESS was at sea when the fire occurred while another says she was at lying at anchor outside Manila harbor

[2] Sources also conflict about where SILVERCYPRESS was beached. One says says it was at Manila Bay, another Guimaras and still another Iloilo, Panay Island, Philippines.

[3] [3] Sources also vary about the date, place and conditions surrounding YASUKAWA MARU's sinking. One source says the scuttling happened on 15 November. Another says she was sunk by the bombing further east at 07-16S, 156-00E. Finally, another source says she was scuttled by guns of an unidentified torpedo boat at 07-08S, 149-35E.

Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany, Gengoro S. Toda of Japan and Peter Cundall of Australia. Thanks also go to Luke Ruffato of Italy and the guys on J-Air for info for Rev 1 about the 13 Oct '42 attack at Tonolei Harbor.

-Bob Hackett and Gilbert Casse


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