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  Akitsushima (秋津洲)
IJN
Seaplane Tender

4,650 Tons (standard)
376' 8" x 51' 10" x 17' 9"
4 x 127mm guns
4 x 25mm AA guns
6 x depth charges
35 ton crane
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IJN April 18, 1943

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Peter Oording 2002

Ship History
Built Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation at Kobe. Laid down October 29, 1940. Launched July 25, 1941. Completed April 29, 1942. Commissioned on April 29, 1942 with captain Mayazumi Haruo.

Wartime History
On April 30, 1942 arrived at Yokosuka. On May 15, departed for Saipan, arriving on May 19 and departing the next day for Rabaul arriving May 24.

Assigned to Base Air Force, No. 1 Special Duty Unit of 5th Air Attack Force of the 11th Air Fleet. During June and July 1942, bombed on ten occasions at Rabaul, but undamaged aside from a near miss on July 17.

On August 7, 1942 patrols Gizo Channel in support of Japanese aircraft attacking Guadalcanal to rescue any downed airmen, then returns to Rabaul on August 10.

On August 15 departs Rabaul for Shortland, arriving the next day and remains until August 29 then departs for Buka arriving August 30. Bombed but undamaged. Suffers trifling damage on September 1, then departs for Shortland.

During September into early October, stationed at Shortland and Buka. Attacked by Allied aircraft on nine occasions but undamaged.

On October 11 refueled by Kyoei Maru at Rabaul. During November stationed at Rabaul and Kavieng. Bombed twice but undamaged. On December 4, departed Rabaul to Yokosuka arriving December 12. Captain Takao Yoshimi takes command. Enters dry dock during late December.

On January 15 departs Yokosuka for Kavieng arriving January 22. The next day, rescues most of the crew of torpedoed destroyer Hakaze. On January 24 and 26, bombed at Rabaul without damage.

On February 1 arrived at Shortland for the next two weeks, bombed three times but undamaged. On February 15, assigned to Base Air Force, # 1 Special Duty Unit of 2nd Air Attack Force. On February 21, departed Shortland to Nauru on February 24, then to Jaluit on February 26 and Ruotto on February 27 and Wake on February 28.

On March 2 departs for Roi and three days later repro visioned by Kitakami Maru. On March 12 arrives Makin. Departs March 31 for Imieji until April 11, departs for Makin on April 26 then back to Imieji and arrives at Jaluit on April 28. Again provisioned by Kitakami Maru on May 2, then departed the next day for Imieji and remains until the end of May.

On June 6, at Jabor assigned to Eastern Force, # 1 Special Duty Unit of Air Force. Provisioned by Kitakami Maru and departs for Shortland arriving June 10. Two days later departs for Rabaul. On June 15 assigned to the 11th Air Fleet, 2nd Base Air Force, # 4 Force of 21st Air Attack Force. On June 16 arrives at Imieji, departs two days later for Yokosuka arriving June 25 for five days,

On July 6, arrives at Kashiwabara during, bombed twice without damage on July 19 and August 12. On August 26 assigned to Captain Fujimaki Yashinori and assigned to northern area forces then on August 29 departs for Yokosuka arriving on September 2 and is attached to the Combined Fleed under the 11th Fleet.

September 16 departs for China arriving at Shanghai on September 20, the departs for Truk four days later, arriving October 2. On October 14 departs for Yokosuka arriving on the 21. On November 4 departs for Yokohama and enters dry dock November 10-15, then again on November 20-23. Afterwards, returns to Yokosuka on November 27 then departs for Truk on December 3 arriving six days later.

Remains at Truk during December until February 8, 1944 to Ponape and returning February 10 with Akagi Maru, then returns to Truk and departs on February 15 with SC 33 for Truk, returning on February 16 to Truk.

Damaged at Truk Lagoon
During "Operation Hailstone" on February 17, 1944 mistaken as a tanker and attacked by US Navy Task Force 58 (TF-58) aircraft attacking Truk. Bombed by aircraft from USS Enterprise at 3:20 and hit by two 1,000 lbs bombs, one hits the forward bridge the other the fantail damaging the crane. The next day, attacked again and hit by another bomb midship causing an explosion that resulted in a large fire, and departed through the South Pass escape further damage.

On February 19 arrives at Mereyon. On February 22 departs with Harusame for Palau arriving on February 25. On March 4 assigned to the 14th Air Fleet and departs for Saipan arriving three days later. Then back to Yokosuka arriving March 14 and enters dry dock for repairs April 2-13.

On May 7 departs for Kobe and enters drydock May 14-31 and remains there until departing on August 2 for Kure, then August 30 departs for Sasebo arriving the net day. On September 5 departs via Moji and Imari Bay as part of convoy HI-75 arriving at Takao Harbor on September 13, then departs for Singapore, but detaches for Manila.

While at Manila Bay, attached on September 21 by US Navy aircraft from Task Force 38 (TF-38), escapes damage but departs for Coron Bay. Arriving the next day, Akitsushima anchors in the narrow passage between Lajo Island and Manglet Island.

Sinking History
On September 24, 1944 at 9:05am, attacked by thirty US Navy aircraft from Task Force 38 (TF-38) in Coron Bay. Hit by two bombs midship and by 9:15 listed heavily to the starboard. Another bomb hit the stern catapult causing a large explosion of aviation fuel aboard and blew out the port quarter, nearly breaking the ship into two pieces. Soon afterwards, capsized and sunk at roughly 11°59′N 120°02′E. In the sinking, four officers and 82 men were lost.

Rescue
After the sinking, Minesweeper # 41 and naval transport T-102 rescued Captain Fujimaki, 25 officers, and most of the crew including 25 wounded. Others swim to shore.

Shipwreck
On August 25, 1945 salvage teams from USS Chanticleer discovered the wreckage of Akitsushima in Coron Bay at 108' with a 90 degree port list. More wreckage was found to have been blown 50 feet astern.

The shipwreck is located between Culion Island and Busuanga Island, both near Manglet Island. Underwater, the catastrophic damage from the stern explosion is clearly evident with only the keel and plates on the starboard side attaching the stern to the rest of the ship and massive internal damage.

The seaplane crane is intact. The crane is lying on the sandy bottom and attracts schools of giant batfish and barracudas. One mounting of a tripple Type 96 tripple anti-aircraft gun is present at the front of the flying boat tracks.

Due to depth and hazards within the shipwreck, no penetration is allowed without proper certification and supervision. Wreck divers can make an impressive penetration into the engine room to see the ship's four engines. The gears and machinery for operating the crane are the main objects of interest for a penetration into the stern.

References
CoronWrecks - Akitsushima
CombinedFleet.com - IJN Akitsushima: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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