RIKUGUN YUSOSEN

(KENBU MARU, under attack)

IJA KENBU MARU:
Tabular Record of Movement

© 2014-2017 Bob Hackett


1942:
Laid down at Nakata Zosen K. K. as a 953-ton cargo ship for Sanko Kisen K. K., Amagasaki.

1942:
Launched and named KENBU MARU. [1]

1942:
Completed.

3 January 1943:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) and allotted Army No. 1025.

28 February 1943: Operation 81-Troop reinforcements to Lae-Salamaua area:
Outside Rabaul harbor. At 2300, a transport convoy assembles consisting of KENBU MARU and AIYO, KYOKUSEI, OIGAWA, SHINAI, TAIMEI and TEIYO, MARUs and Naval Special Service Ship NOJIMA.

At 2330, convoy departs assembly point escorted by Rear Admiral Kimura Masatomiís destroyers SHIRAYUKI (F), ASAHIO, ARASHIO, TOKITSUKAZE, URANAMI, SHIKINAMI, YUKIKAZE and ASAGUMO and set course along the northern coast of New Britain, north-west from Rabaul before turning west and then south. The transports and destroyers are carrying 6,004 troops of the IJAís 51st Division and 600 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops.

The convoy is divided into two Divisions. No. 1 Division (starboard column) consists of KENBU, AIYO, TEIYO and SHINAI MARUs. No. 2 Division (portside column) consists of KYOKUSEI , OIGAWA and TAIMEI MARUs and Special Service Ship NOJIMA.

2 March 1943: Battle of the Bismarck Sea:
At 0800, USAAF and RAAF planes bomb the convoy. USAAF B-17 "Flying Fortress" heavy bombers attack Army cargo ship KYOKUSEI MARU. She receives two direct bomb hits and sinks at 0926 at 05-02S, 148-14E (55 km NNW of Cape Gloucester, New Britain). Destroyers YUKIKAZE and ASAGUMO rescue 800 men and 110 drums, steam to Lae and disembark them, then rejoin the convoy. TEIYO MARU is lightly damaged by air attack NE of Cape Gloucester.

3 March 1943:
Dampier Straits. The battle continues as Allied aircraft make low-level bombing and strafing runs against the convoy. Rear Admiral Kimura is wounded. During the fighting, KENBU MARU explodes in a fireball and sinks at 07-15S, 148-30'E. 20 troops are KIA The planes also sink cargo ships AIYO, OIGAWA, SHINAI, TAIMEI and TEIYO MARUs and destroyers ASAHIO, ARASHIO, TOKITSUKAZE and flagship SHIRAYUKI.


Authors' Note:
[1] Also know as KEMBU MARU. Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany and the late John Whitman.

Bob Hackett


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