(KOKURYU MARU, prewar)

KOKURYU MARU: Tabular Record of Movement

© 2017 Bob Hackett

19 September 1936:
Nagasaki. Laid down at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. as Yard No. 680, a 7, 369-ton passenger-cargo ship for Osaka Shosen (OSK LIne) K.K.

14 February 1937:
Launched and named KOKURYU MARU.

31 July 1937:
Completed. She can accomodate 45 first-class passengers, 139 second-class passengers and 669 third-class passengers.

KOKURYU MARU is placed on OSK's Osaka~Dairen, Manchukuo (Manchuria) route.

E 1942:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a Rikugun Sempaku Uneikai Haitosen troop transport (A/C-APK). Alloted IA No. IJA 5234.

21 February 1942:
KOKURYU MARU departs Palau in a convoy with MANJU and PALAU MARUs.

28 February 1942:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Charles W. Wilkins’ (USNA ’24) USS NARWHAL (SS-167) torpedoes and damages MANJU MARU at 29-15N, 138-15E.

2 March 1942:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

12 June 1942:
KOKURYU MARU departs Tokyo Wan (Bay) in a convoy consisting of IJA transports ASOSAN, FUKUJU, KOSHU and SEIWA MARUs and civilian cargo ship (C-AK) KASUGASAN MARU escorted by gunboat HIYOSHI MARU No. 2 GO.

31 January 1943:
KOKURYU MARU departs Tokyo Bay for Hokkaido in convoy No. 1131 also consisting of TSUNESHIMA MARU escorted by patrol boat PB-101 (ex-HMS THRACIAN).

27 February 1943:
Tanker SAN PEDRO MARU departs the refinery at Marifu, Japan and joins convoy No. 8228 also consisting of KOKURYU, IKOMA, KARYO (CHIALING), MICHI, MISHIMA, MARUs and HAKUTETSU MARU No. 15 escorted by patrol boat PB-101.

28 February 1943:
KOKURYU MARU departs Wada-Misaki in convoy No. 8228 also consisting of auxiliary oiler SAN PEDRO MARU, IJA transports IKOMA, MISHIMA and KARYO (CHIALING) MARUs and civilian cargo ship (C-AK) MICHI MARU escorted by patrol boat PB-101

1 March 1943:
Arrives at Yokkaichi.

2 March 1943:
Arrives at Yokosuka.

27 April 1943:
KOKURYU MARU departs Yokosuka in convoy No. 1427 also consisting of IJN cargo ship (B-AK) TAISEI MARU, IJA transports IKOMASAN and SHINWA MARUs and civilian cargo ship (C-AK) RYOGA MARU escorted by auxiliary gunboat DELHI MARU.

30 April 1943:
Arrives at Ominato, Aomori Prefecture.

4 May 1943:
Departs Ominato.

5 May 1943:
Arrives at Kushiro, Hokkaido.

19 August 1943:
At 1100, KOKURYU MARU departs Dairen for Moji in convoy TA-12 also consisting of DAIREN MARU escorted by minelayer NASAMI . At 36-19N, 126-03E, NASAMI is detached.

29 August 1943:
Off the port of Pusan, Korea. Cargo ship IJA CHOJUN MARU collides with KOKURYU MARU. As a result, CHOJUN MARU sinks at 34-28N, 128-55E.

30 August 1943:
At 1600, a TA series convoy consisting of KOKURYU and DAIREN MARUs arrives at Genzan. Minelayer NASAMI escorts of the convoy to Dairen.

3 September 1943:
At 1126, KOKURYU MARU departs Dairen for Moji in convoy TA-14 also consisting of DAIREN MARU escorted by minelayer NASAMI

4 September 1943:
At 1530, NASAMI is detached.

1 October 1943:
At 0600, KOKURYU MARU en route from Moji in convoy TA-17 also consisting of DAIREN MARU is joined in Daito Wan by minelayer NASAMI and escorts the convoy north. At 2230, arrives at Dairen.

E 1944:
Requisitioned by the Imperial Army (IJA) as a Haitosen shared cargo/transport (A/C-APK). Converted to a troop transport. Allotted IJA No. ???

25 August 1944:
KOKURYU MARU and transports ARABIA and MIZUHO MARUs and tanker MANEI MARU briefly join convoy HI-73 from Singapore, consisting of IJA landing craft depot ship KIBITSU MARU, ex-armed merchant cruiser GOKOKU MARU, ex-seaplane tenders KAGU and SANUKI MARUs, tankers TOHO, OMUROSAN, OTOWASAN, TAIHO, FUJISAN, HAKKO, AMATO, TOA and KUROSHIO MARUs and fleet storeship IRAKO escorted by escort carrier UNYO, light cruiser KASHII and kaibokan CHIBURI, CD-3, CD-19, CD-21 and CD-27.

26 August 1944:
CD-1 and CD-13 joins the convoy. MANEI MARU remains at Kyushu because of engine problems. CD-1 and CD-3 are detached and head for Sasebo. At 0900, KOKURYU MARU and transports ARABIA and MIZUHO MARUs are ordered away because of excessive smoke.

31 August 1944:
At 0400, KOKURYU MARU departs Terashima Straits for Takao in convoy MOTA-25 also consisting of ARABIA and MIZUHO MARUs escorted by kaibokan CD-1, CD-3 and CD-5.

3 September 1944:
At 1630, as ordered by the convoy commander, arrives at Kirun rather than Takao.

30 September 1944:
At 1200, convoy MI-19 10:21 AM 2/5/201710:21 AM 2/5/201710:21 AM 2/5/2017departs Takao consisting of IWAKUNI, YULIN, HAKUSHIKA (HAKUROKU), MITSU, DAIMEI, ARISAN, TEIFU (ex French BOUGAINVILLE), TASMANIA, SHINSEI, EIHO and DAIA MARUs KOKURYU, KENEI and SAN LUIS MARUs have also joinef the convoy for Manila. The escort consists of kaibokan ETOROFU, CD-18 and CD-26 and subchaser CH-19.

2 October 1944:
At 1800, arrives at Aparri. Later, at 2300, departs.

3 October 1944:
At 0900, arrives at Lapoc. ETOROFU and SHONAN are detached.

4 October 1944:
Departs Lapoc and later that day arrives at San Fernando.

5 October 1944:
Departs San Fernando.

7 October 1944:
Arrives at Manila.

17 October 1944:
KOKURYU MARU departs Baquit Bay in convoy MATA-30, also called the "Kokuryu Maru" convoy, also consisting of fleet supply ship KURASAKI, auxiliary transport (ex-seaplane tender) KIMIKAWA MARU, IJN requisitioned cargo ships (B-AK) DAITEN and EIKO MARUs, IJA tanker KIKUSUI (ex-Dutch IRIS), IJA shared transports (A/C-AK) KOKURYU, ARISAN, TENSHIN, and SHIKISAN MARUs, IJA transports FUYUKAWA MARU and SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and Government survey vessel (C-AGDE) RYOFU MARU escorted by destroyers HARUKAZE, KURETAKE and TAKE, and subchaser CH-20 MARU No. 1 and Government survey vessel (C-AGDE) RYOFU MARU, but returns back there later that day.

18 October 1944:
Convoy MATA-30 again departs Bakitto Bay.

19 October 1944:
Arrives at Limao.

20 October 1944:
Departs Limao and arrives at Manila later that same day.

21 October 1944:
At 2340, convoy MATA-30 again departs Manila for Takao.

23 October 1944:
South China Sea, WNW of Cape Bojeador, Luzon, Philippines. About 1730 (JST), Cdr Alan B. Banister’s (USNA ’28) USS SAWFISH (SS-276) attacks the last ship in the convoy - KIMIKAWA MARU. She is hit portside aft in hold No.7 by four of five torpedoes fired. She was carrying 300 passengers, bauxite, fuel oil, aviation gasoline and other cargo. KIMIKAWA MARU sinks in 2.5 minutes at 18-58N, 118-46E. 81 passengers and 24 crewmen are KIA.

24 October 1944:
Vacy Strait. The convoy comes under a combined wolfpack attack by five submarines. The submarines’ attacks scatter the convoy. At 0050, SHINSEI MARU No. 1 is damaged by a dud torpedo at 19-32N, 118-37E.

At 0100, KOKURYU MARU is torpedoed and sunk at 19-42N, 118-38E, probably by LtCdr George H. Browne's (USNA ’34) USS SNOOK (SS-279) or LtCdr Richard W. Peterson's (USNA ’31) USS ICEFISH (SS-367). Of 1357 passengers on board, 329 are KIA, as are five gunners and 62 crewmen.

At 0315, KIKUSUI MARU (ex-Dutch tanker IRIS) is torpedoed and sunk by USS SNOOK at 19-46N, 118-30E. 12 crewmen are KIA.

At 0605, TENSHIN MARU is torpedoed twice and sunk by either USS SNOOK or LtCdr Edward N. Blakely's (USNA ’34) (later KIA) USS SHARK (SS-314) or both, at 19-54N 119-00E. The ship was loaded with 6,250 tons of bauxite and five escort troops and 47 crewmen are KIA.

At 0758, SHIKISAN MARU is torpedoed by LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Maurice H. Rindskopf's (USNA ’38) USS DRUM (SS-228) and sinks in 90 seconds at 20-27N, 118-31E. The ship is time loaded with 1,500 tons mixed goods, 3,000 tons crude rubber and 3,300 tons of manganese. 11 crew and four passengers die in the sinking. Soon after, DAITEN MARU, sailing in ballast, is also torpedoed and sunk by LtCdr James H. Ashley's (USNA ’34) USS SEADRAGON (SS-194) at 20-12N, 119-01E. Five crewmen are KIA.

At 1225, straggling SHINSEI MARU No. 1, loaded with bauxite, is torpedoed by USS SNOOK and sinks in three minutes at 20-31N, 118-42E. Three gunners and 10 of crewmen are killed in the sinking. At 1405, EIKO MARU is torpedoed by SEADRAGON and sinks at 20-35N 118-32E. The ship had rescued about 100 survivors from SHINSEI MARU No. 1 and many of these men die, with one EIKO MARU crewman KIA.

Finally, at 1730, ARISAN MARU is torpedoed and sunk, probably by Blakely's USS SHARK (sunk soon after by HARUKAZE and TAKE) at 20-00N, 118-44E. This IJA transport is carrying 1782 POWs. Only nine of them survive the sinking. Two crewmen, 13 gunners and 27 other passengers are KIA. During these attacks TOYO MARU No. 3 drops 4 DCs against an enemy submarine.

Author's Note:
[Thanks go to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany.

Bob Hackett

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