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  Kimikawa Maru
IJN
Kamikawa Maru Class
Auxiliary Seaplane Tender

6, 863 Tons
479' x 62' x 30'
2 x 140mm guns
2 x 13mm machine guns
8 seaplanes
Click For Enlargement
IJN c1942

Click For Enlargement
IJN June 1942

Ship History
Built by the Kawasaki Dockyard Company at Kobe. Laid down on November 2, 1936. Launched on March 11, 1937. Completed on July 15, 1937 as a cargo and refrigerator ship for the Kawasaki Kisen K. K. line.

During July 1937 departs Kobe on a cruise to New York and later that year completes four more trips from Kobe to New York. During 1938-1940, makes three trips per year to New York. During 1941, makes one trip to New York.

Requisitioned by the Japanese Navy on July 6, 1941 and converted into a seaplane tender at Kure Navy Yard at Kure, completed during August. Assigned to retired captain Aoki Setsuji the ship is assigned to the Third Fleet, 2nd Base Unit.

During August, conversion is completed and assigned six E13A1 Jake reconnaissance floatplanes, with two in reserve. Seaplane tail codes "X-x". Departs Kure and arrives at Sasebo on September 5 then to Maizuru and Saeki for additional work and training, then assigned to captain Ushuku Shuichi. During November, patrols off Chichi Jima, then to Yokosuka and dry docked on November 11-30 then departs for Ominato.

Wartime History
On December 2, 1941 at Ominato painted in gray/white splotch camouflage for northern operations then departs for Akkeshithen to Matsuwa on December 7, 1941 to Paramushiro to patrol the Kurile Islands. During the remainder of December operated from Ominato.

On January 1, 1942 assigned to the 5th Fleet, conducting anti-submarine patrols and Soviet shipping surveillance in the Kurile Islands area to Kamchatka and Sea of Okhotsk. Depending on weather, she is at sea 14 to 16 days each patrol. On February 1, assigned to the northern patrol unit and arrives at Yokosuka the next day and to Ominato on February 17 and departs five days later. for Ominato.

During the next five days, Kimikawa Maru's Jakes conduct several photo-reconnaissance flights over the the Soviet Union’s Ust-Bolsheretsk Harbor at Kamchatka, then returns to Ominato on March 18. Two days later departs for Akkeshi Bay arriving April 4 then to Akkeshi for Maizuru on April 11 then to Maizuru the next day. On May 1 departs for Maizuru arriving two days later at Akkeshi.

Aleutians Operations
On May 6 departs Akkeshi Bay with Kiso for the Aleutians. On May 11, launches floatplanes for a photo-reconnaissance of Adak (between 1225-1330) and Kiska, but is obscured by weather. On May 18 returns to Ominato. Two days later, assigned to Northern Force, Seaplane Force with destroyer Shiokaze. On May 29, departs Mutsu Bay as part of the Northern Force via Paramushiro escorted by Shiokaze.

On June 8 arrives in Kiska Harbor and unloads eight E13A Jake seaplanes, fuel and materials. These seaplanes patrol until June 17 using all available aircraft to search and attack any American forces west of Atka. On June 9, Kamikawa Maru and destroyer Hokaze are detached to join the Northern seaplane force and continue operations under the command of the C.O. of Kimikawa Maru.

On June 13, The Kimikawa Maru aircraft reconnoiter and attack suspected American flying boat bases at Kanaga, Adak and Atka. At 14:45, they report eleven flying boats and one gunboat at Nanzan Bay. At 1545, the CO, Northern Force orders a joint attack using all available aircraft of the seaplane force and the base force. At 1630, advises weather does not permit the attack, and recommends that submarines be sent immediately to attack Nanzan Bay.

On June 18, American aircraft begin frequent air raids on Kiska, forcing Kimikawa Maru to withdraw to Agattu and make night supply runs to Kiska and returning to Agattu. On June 26, Agattu sight an American submarine in the area, then departs with destroyer Shiokaze

Departs for Ominato arriving June 27 to refuel and replenish supplies and returns to the Aleutians with destroyer Hokaze. On July 2, bombed by B-24s at anchor off Agattu. A near-miss by a bomb kills several crewmen aboard Kimikawa and causes minor damage to the ship. On July 7 departs for Ominato then to Yokosuka on July 14, then to Yokohama for repair work.

Loaded with six A6M2-N Rufe seaplanes, departs escorted by destroyer Hokaze on August 4, arriving at Paramushiro six days later and reaching Kiska on August 13, then departing the next day via Paramushiro on August 16 to Yokosuka arriving on August 20.

Assigned to Captain-Retired Yashima Gentoku, departs August 24 arriving at Kiska on August 31, then departs reaching Ominato on September3 and leaving six days later for Yokosuka arriving September 10.

On September 12, loads six A6M2-N Rufes, two E13A Jakes and construction materials for winter quarters, departing five days later for Ominato to load troops and departs escorted by Hokaze. Arrives on Kiska September 25, unloads troops and aircraft then departs the next day for Ominato.

On October 14, departs Ominato escorted by destroyer Usugumo. The next day, arrives at for Yokosuka, loads troops and equipment of the 51st Base Force. Aboard are six A6M2-N Rufes and three E13A Jakes. Departs on October 21 escorted by Usugumo.

On November 2, arrives at Kiska and Attu unloading her aircraft. During November 1942, the Kimikawa Maru air unit tail code is changed to "M-xx". Departs escorted by Usugumo, arriving at Paramushiro on November 13, conducts anti-submarine patrols in the Kurile Islands, then departs for Ominato arriving November 24.

Departs Ominato on December 8, arriving at Yokosuka the next day. Loaded with five A6M2-N Rufes and eight E13A Jakes. Departs on December 16. Two days later from the open sea at roughly 52-50N, 166E, launches four E13A Jakes that fly to Kiska Harbor. Afterwards, Kimikawa Maru departs for Kataoka Harbor off Shumshu on December 20, departing three days later.

On December 25, reaches Kiska escorted by destroyer Hatsushimo embarking seven A6M2-N Rufes then departs for Ominato arriving January 1, 1943. Departs on January 13 arriving at Yokosuka the same day to load eight A6M2-N Rufes and one E13A Jake plus four Daihatsu landing craft and two smaller barges.

On January 19 departs with Convoy No. 10, reaching Paramushiro on January 28, then to Attu arriving January 31 where she unloads her A6M2-N Rufes. On February 1 arrives at Kiska, unloads her E13A Jake and departs for Ominato arriving February 5.

On February 9, departs Ominato. On February 12 from the open sea at roughly 52-55N, 168E launches seven A6M2-N and five E13A Jakes bound for Kiska. Four days later, refueled by Teiyo Maru, then to Yokosuka arriving February 21, loaded with six A6M2-N Rufes (7133, 7134, 7138, 6145, 6146, and 5156) and three E13A Jakes.

On February 27 departs with Convoy I-21 via Paramushiro bound for the Aleutians. On March 10, arrives at Kiska Harbor and unloads 185 troops, ammunition, airfield materials and sepalanes. At 2100 the convoy depart because of the threat of air raids, with much of their cargo still aboard. That same day, arrives at Attu and unloads six A6M2-N Rufes.

Departs for Yokosuka arriving March 18, repaired and camouflage paint removed. Departs on May 1 and three days later while in the Sea of Okhotsk off Etorofu Island, USS Wahho (SS-238) fires three Mark-14 torpedoes from 1,350 yards. The first hits amidship is a dud, the second is a dud and third misses. The next day, arrives at Kataoka Bay.

On May 11, 1943 That same day, Kimikawa Maru departs Paramushiro escorted by cruisers Maya and Kiso plus destroyers Hatsushimo and Wakaba. Aboard are eight F1M2 and two A6M2-N Rufes that will fly to off Kimikawa Maru to join the 452nd Kokutai Kiska. Learning of the American landing at Attu, the mission is aborted and the ships return to Paramushiro, then Kataoka Bay May 15-18 then to Kashiwabara Bay.

On May 26 arrives at Ominato and patrols the Kurlies, departing May 31. Arrives at Kataoka Bay on June 13 transporting six Type 95 Daves and patrols, returning to Ominato on June 17. Departs again three days later arriving at Kataoka Bay on June 23-30 then back to Ominato on July 3-7. Back to Kataoka Bay three days later. Refueled by Teiyo Maru on July 17, back to Kataoka Bay on July 19 and returns to Ominato on July 22, loads seaplanes and returns to Kataoka Bay on July 31, departs on a patrol August 10.

Returns to Sasebo on August 15 and is drydocked, no. 1 search light is removed and a Type 21 air-search radar installed plus additional twin 13mm anti-aircraft guns. Captain Kohashi Yoshiaki is assigned to the ship and departs on September 25 for Ominato arriving two days later and is re-rated as a converted transport (Miscellaneous), and departs on a fishing boat protection patrol.

At Paramushiro on October 4-10 then to Ominato on October 13-17. Next to Hakodate October 21-24 for Paramushiro departing November 7 for Musashi Wan then returns escorted by Kasumi, arriving at Ominato on November 13-15. On November 18, at Sasebo Navy Yard for modifications. Her 76mm guns are replaced with 120mm guns and third mast restored. On November 22 modifications are completed and the next day departs for Moji with 1,000 tons of cement escorted by Hibiki and minesweeper W-13, arriving December 26.

On December 27, departs Yura. At roughly at 33-25N, 135-33E, targeted by USS Tautog (SS-199) that fires three torpedoes. Hit by two torpedoes, flooding the No. 6 hold, her rudder steering gear and a propeller shaft are damaged. Afterwards towed to Port Fukuro, off Kushimoto.

On January 3, 1944, towed to Kobe for temporary repairs at Kawasaki Heavy Indus ties, then transferred to Osaka for repairs at Hitachi Zosen's shipyard. Repairs are completed on June 24 and loads 1,100 military personnel and materiel for transport.

On July 13, 1944 joins "Convoy HI-69" and departs Moji for Singapore, attacked by submarines, but Kimikawa Maru was not targeted. On July 20 arrives at Manila at 2100, and departs on departs for Singapore arriving July 31. Departs on August 6 for Surabaya transporting troops via Balikpapan on August 10 to load fuel and oil departing on August 14. Two days later arrives at Makassar, then August 28 to Bintan Island to load 6,000 tons of bauxite ore then returns to Singapore on August 30.

On September 6, joins "Convoy HI-72" bound for Japan but has a mechanical breakdown and returns to Singapore for repairs, departing on September 10 with convoy HI-74, but again has a breakdown and returns.

On October 2, joins "Convoy HI-76" departing Singapore bound for Moji. On October 8, in the South China Sea, at roughly 14-12N, 115-53E USS Becuna (SS-319) fires four torpedoes and claims two hits on the port side in hold No. 4 and flooding occurs in this hold and hold No. 5, Detached from the convoy, the damaged ship proceeds to Manila Bay escorted by Hiyodori and CD-28.

Arrives in Manila Bay the next day and undergoes temporary repairs, On October 18-19, US Navy aircraft the area. Although not fully repaired, Kimikawa Maru departs on October 20 with convoy MATA-30, proceeding at 8 knots for Takao Harbor.

Sinking History
On October 23, 1944 while in the South China Sea as the last ship in the convoy, Kimikawa Maru is targeted by USS Sawfish which fires five torpedoes. Four impact the port side into hold No.7. Loaded with bauxite, fuel oil, aviation gasoline and cargo, the ship sinks in only two and a half minutes at roughly 18-58N, 118-46E. During the sinking, 24 sailors and 81 passengers go down with the ship. Officially removed from the Navy list on December 10, 1944.

References
A6M2-N Rufe deliveries in the Aleutians from Allied Intelligence Records
25 Dec '42 - Nos. 550, 552, 462, 467, 284, 287 and 198.
30 Jan '43 - Nos. 9114, 9118, 9119, 8122, 8125, 8128, 8129 and 7132.
10 Mar '43 - Nos. 7133, 7134, 7138, 6145, 6146 and 5156.

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Last Updated
August 18, 2018

 

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