(YASUKUNI MARU by Ueda Kihachiro)

IJN Submarine Tender
YASUKUNI MARU: Tabular Record of Movement

© 1998-2017 Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall
Revision 8

22 April 1929:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Shipbuilding.

15 February 1930:
Launched and named YASUKUNI MARU.

31 August 1930:
Completed as an 11,933-ton cargo-passenger ship for the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Line’s Yokohama - Hamburg service.

22 September 1930:
Departs Yokohama for London on NYK's European route on her maiden voyage.

18 October 1930:
Returns to Yokohama. Thereafter, she continues in the NYK Line’s European service with ports of call including Yokohama, Kobe, Yokkaichi, Osaka, Moji, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang, Colombo, Suez, Aden, Port Said, Marseilles, Gibraltar, London and Naples.

5 April 1934:
Port Said, Egypt. Embarks several patients from the training vessel ASAMA, recovering after appendix removal.

E September-October 1939:
Hamburg, Germany. As requested by the Consulate General of Japan, YASUKUNI MARU evacuates many Japanese nationals from Berlin and embarks some German passengers. The ship navigates via the North Sea westward, across war-torn Europe, to Japan.

18 October 1939:
Arrives at Yokohama.

25 October 1939:
Requisitioned by the IJN.

11 December 1939:
Returned to her owners.

29 October 1940:
Requisitioned by the IJN again.

30 October 1940:
Kure Navy Yard. Begins conversion.

16 December 1940:
Registered as an auxiliary submarine tender in the Kure Naval District. Captain Sekimoto Orinosuke (38) (former CO of MANKO MARU) is posted CO.

11 January 1941:
YASUKUNI MARU completes conversion. She is equipped with six 152-mm/50 cal. (6-inch) licence-built Vickers guns (6x1) and two Type 93 dual mount 13.2-mm machine guns and fitted with one 1110-mm and one 900-mm search lights. She is assigned to the Combined Fleet’s Sixth Fleet (Submarines) SubRon 1.

26 February 1941:
Departs Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa for the southern coast of China.

3 March 1941:
Arrives at Takao.

7 December 1941:
Kure. In Vice Admiral Shimizu Mitsumi's (36) (former CO of ISE) Sixth Fleet (Submarines) in Rear Admiral Sato Tsutomu’s (40) SubRon 1. Departs Yokosuka for Kwajalein.

15 December 1941:
YASUKUNI MARU is attached to the Sixth Fleet’s SubRon 4 and later replaced by HEIAN MARU.

January 1942:
Spends the entire month at Kwajalein.

1 February 1942:
Kwajalein. Vice Admiral (later Fleet Admiral) William F. Halsey Jr’s (USNA ’04) Task Force 8 (USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) raids Kwajalein and Wotje in the Marshall Islands. USS ENTERPRISE’s Douglas “Dauntless” SBDs of VB-6 and VS-6 and TBD “Devastators” of VT-6 sink IJA transport BORDEAUX MARU (one crewman and two gunners KIA) and damage light cruiser KATORI, flagship of the Sixth Fleet (Submarines). The I-23 and several other important ships are also damaged in the raid.

YASUKUNI MARU is hit by one bomb hit in her aft turret and suffers damage to her stern from bomb fragments.

20 February 1942:
Departs Kwajalein.

1 March 1942:
Arrives at Kure. Remains there all month.

10 April 1942:
Reassigned to the Sixth Fleet’s SubRon 3.

23 April 1942:
Departs Kure.

30 April 1942:
Arrives at Truk.

1 May 1942:
Recalled Captain-Ret (Rear Admiral, posthumously) Mori Ryo (38) assumes command. Captain Sekimoto is reassigned as CO of HEIAN MARU.

2 May 1942:
Departs Truk.

3 May 1942:
At 0240 in 07-40N 153-45E sights a surfaced enemy submarine.

5 May 1942:
Arrives at Kwajalein.

8 July 1942:
ComSubRon 3 Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kawano Chimaki (42) transfers his flag from YASUKUNI MARU to submarine I-11.

6 August 1942:
At 1100 departs Kwajalein.

9 August 1942:
At 0700 arrives at Truk.

5 November 1942:
At 0800 auxiliary gunboat CHOAN MARU No. 2 GO departs Rabaul for Palau escorting a mixed convoy consisting of IJN Submarine depot Ship YASUKUNI MARU (which joins from Truk apparently), IJN ammunition ship TATSUTAKE MARU, Army cargo ship TAIFUKU MARU and civilian (3011 ton) EIKO MARU. The convoy sails at 10 knots.

12 November 1942:
Arrives at Palau.

23 November 1942:
At 0750 arives at Kure. Remains there throughout December.

19 December 1942: Operation C (HEI-GO) - The Reinforcement of New Guinea:
Orders for Operation C (HEI-GO) are issued. The objective of this transport operation is to rush the 20th and 41st Army Division to Wewak. The operation consists of three separate operations, two of them divided into sub echelons sailing at different dates: The first operation HEI-ICHI GO (HEI-GO 1) is to land the main strength of the 20th Army Division consisting of 9,443 men, 82 vehicles, arms and 12,267 bundles of provisions at Wewak. [1]

4 January 1943:
Departs Kure.

6 January 1943: Operation “C” HEI-ICHI GO (HEI-GO 1) - The Reinforcement of New Guinea:
Fusan (Pusan), Korea. YASUKUNI MARU loads 1, 448 officers and men and 11 vehicles of the IJA's 20th Infantry division.

8 January 1943:
At 1530, YASUKUNI MARU departs Fusan for Wewak, New Guinea with the 2nd transport echelon consisting of HAKOZAKI and ARATAMA MARUs escorted by destroyer HATSUYUKI.

14 January 1943:
At 0900, arrives at Palau with the 2nd transport echelon escorted by HATSUYUKI. ARATAMA MARU is detached and transferred to 3rd transport echelon, but remains organized as a unit of the 2nd transport echelon.

18 January 1943:
At 0800, the 2nd transport echelon departs Palau escorted by HATSUYUKI. YASUKUNI MARU runs aground. Later, she is refloated and departs a day later.

19 January 1943:
Departs Palau.

21 January 1943:
At 0730, HAKOZAKI MARU escorted by destroyer HATSUYUKI arrive at Wewak. Both vessels depart the evening of this day for Palau.

22 January 1943:
YASUKUNI MARU arrives at Wewak escorted by destroyer HATSUYUKI that meets the ship inbound. Disembarks troops and departs the same day at 1430 for Palau.

4 February 1943:
Arrives at Tsingtao, China. Embarks troops and supplies of the IJA's 41st Infantry Division.

7 February 1943:
Departs Tsingtao as part of Operation "C" (HEI-GO 3) YASUKUNI MARU is part of the third unit with KIYOKAWA MARU directly escorted by destroyer ISONAMI.

14 February 1943:
At 0900, arrives at Palau. Refuels and replenishes. UKISHIMA MARU is detached and organized into the 3rd transport echelon.

21 February 1943:
At 0700, departs Palau in the 3rd transport echelon convoy consisting of KIYOKAWA and YASUKUNI MARUs escorted by destroyer ISONAMI.

24 February 1943:
At 1220, arrives at Wewak. Disembarks troops.

25 February 1943:
At 0430, departs Wewak.

26 February 1943:
The convoy separates. YASUKUNI MARU sails for Palau, KIYOKAWA MARU sails for Kure and UKISHIMA MARU sails for Truk.

4 March 1943:
Arrives at Kure escorted by patrol boat PB-31.

20 March 1943:
Departs Kure. Off Fukujima patrol boat PB-46 arrives from Sukumo and starts escorting her.

21 March 1943:
At 21.30 PB-46 detaches.

26 March 1943:
120 Ri off Truk, YASUKUNI MARU is met by destroyer KIYONAMI.

27 March 1943:
At 0830 the ships arrive at Truk.

11 May 1943:
Departs Palau in fleet convoy No. 2501 consisting of YASUKUNI, HAKUSAN, DAIGEN, KENKOKU, HOKO and GENYO MARUs and small tanker KYOEI MARU escorted by destroyer KURETAKE. [2]

13 May 1943:
Recalled Captain-Retired Seki Tei (36) (former CO of TSUKUSHI MARU) is posted as Commanding Officer. Later, Captain Mori is reassigned as CO of SANYO MARU.

18 May 1943:
At 1600, arrives at Balikpapan where the convoy is dispersed.

13-23 October 1943:
YASUKUNI MARU is with the 11th Wewak Transport Convoy evacuating IJA troops from Wewak to Palau.

5 December 1943:
Departs Truk at 1600 in convoy No. 4205A with food ship IRAKO and escort carrier CHITOSE escorted by kaibokan MIKURA and destroyers AMATSUKAZE and YUKIKAZE.

14 December 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

27 December 1943:
Arrives at Yokohama.

1 January 1944:
YASUKUNI MARU is reassigned to transport 369 members of the IJN 49th Air Defense Party (company size).

25 January 1944:
Departs Tateyama for Truk in a troop transport convoy with ex-AMCs AIKOKU and AKAGI MARUs escorted by destroyers MICHISHIO, SHIRATSUYU and IKAZUCHI. YASUKUNI MARU carries submarine spare parts, torpedoes and submarine technicians.

The IJN plans for YASUKUNI MARU to replace light cruiser KATORI as flagship of Vice Admiral (Admiral, posthumously) Takagi Takeo's (39) (former CO of MUTSU) Sixth Fleet (Submarines) at Truk. KATORI is to be reassigned to the General Escort Command because of the IJN's acute shortage of ASW vessels.

31 January 1944: American Operation “Flintlock” - The Invasion of the Marshall Islands:
Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Marc A. Mitscher’s (USNA ’10) Task Force 58 lands the 4th Marine Division and the Army's 7th Infantry Division that capture the Kwajalein, Roi-Namur and Majuro atolls.

That same day, 300 miles NW of Truk, at about 0200, LtCdr (later Captain) Robert E. Dornin's (USNA '35) USS TRIGGER (SS-237) attacks YASUKUNI MARU’s convoy. Dornin fires three torpedoes by radar at largest ship and XO Lt (later Captain) Edward L. Beach (USNA ’39) fires three other torpedoes from the bridge at the nearest destroyer using the Target Bearing Transmitter (TBT). The TBT's torpedoes run erractically and miss. The three fired by radar also miss the big ships, but one hits and slightly damages MICHISHIO, probably a dud.

Still on the surface, USS TRIGGER turns tail on a nearby destroyer and fires four stern torpedoes at her, but they all miss. Masked by her heavy diesel exhaust, USS TRIGGER hauls away on a reciprocal course to the destroyer. Unaware that her opponent is on the surface, the destroyer drops depth charges.

Dornin makes a high speed "end-around." At about 0358, he fires five torpedoes in surface radar attack on the largest ship. Two torpedoes hit YASUKUNI MARU. She sinks about five minutes later 17 miles NW of Truk at 9-15N, 147-13E.

YASUKUNI MARU is carrying over 1,200 men including 369 men of the Navy's 222nd Naval Construction Unit. About 300 sailors and 888 technical personnel are lost. SHIRATSUYU rescues 43 survivors. Captain Seki is among those KIA. He is promoted Rear Admiral, posthumously.

10 March 1944:
Removed from the Navy List.

Authors' Notes:
[1] The second of the three planned movements, Operation HEI-NI-GO (Hei-2), transport of the Army's 208th Hiko-Sentai Light Bomber Regiment, was cancelled.

[2] The identity of this SANYO MARU is unclear. It was not seaplane tender SANYO MARU as she was in Japan at this time.

Thanks go to Gilbert Casse of France and Erich Muethaler of Germany for assistance. Thanks also go to Jim Broshot and the late John Whitman.

Photo credit goes to Gilbert Casse of France.

- Bob Hackett, Sander Kingsepp and Peter Cundall.

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