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  Komaki Maru (Wreck Wharf, No ken pek pek maru)
IJN
Armed Transport

8,524 Tons
442' | 446' | 60'
armament
Click For Enlargement
IJN 1942

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Justin Taylan 2000

Click For Enlargement
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Justin Taylan 2006

Ship History
On June 18, 1932 laid down at Harima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co.'s shipyard for Kokusai Kisen K. K. Launched on July 8, 1933 and named "Komaki Maru". Completed by November 27, 1933 and placed into service with the Kokusai Line as a freighter with accommodations for 12 passengers for service between Yokohama to Los Angeles and New York along with Kamo Maru during 1934.

During 1937, continues service for the Kokusai Line with ports of call at Yokohama, Moji, Kobe, Manila, Singapore, Penang, Los Angeles, Panama Canal, Galveston, New Orleans, Baltimore and New York.

During August 1937, requisitioned by the Japanese Army to support the 21st Sentai in China. Next, requisitioned by the Japanese Navy on November 29, 1940. Converted to an armed auxiliary aircraft transport at Mitsubishi Zosen at Yokohama with a 4.7" deck gun installed at the bow and the stern, completed by January 15, 1941.

Departs on March 6, 1941 for Micronesia with Captain Nakamura Masao in command, and makes trips to Takao, Japan, Micronesia and China.

Wartime History
On December 25, departs Takao for the Philippines. Off Lamon Bay on December 29, the ship was damaged by a fire but proceeds to Jolo. On January 13 departs Jolo escorted by auxiliary gunboat Taiko Maru arrives at Davao and departs later that day with Taiko Maru then returns to Jolo and on January 15 departs for Tarakan then to Takao on January 28.

On February 2, departs Takao. On March 4 arrives at Rabaul delivers A6M2 Zeros for the 4th Kokutai and departs on March 8.

Next, on March 14, arrives Kendari and delivers cargo of A6M Zeros for the 3rd Kokutai, and departs on March 18. Next, March 20, arrives Makassar and delivers cargo of A6M Zeros for the 3rd Kokutai, departing on the 23. On March 25, arrives at Bali to deliver A6M2 Zeros and munitions to 3rd Kokutai, then departs on April 2.

On April 4 arrives at Kupang and probably delivers A6M fighter aircraft to elements of the 3rd Kokutai and departs the next day. On April 7 arrives Ambon to deliver A6M2 Zero aircraft to the 3rd Kokutai and departs the same day. On April 10, arrives Davao and departs later that day.

Sinking History
Next, on April 17, 1942 arrives at Simpson Harbor off Rabaul and unloads cargo at pier #3, including A6M2 Zero fighters and personnel of the Tainain Kokutai, including Saburo Sakai.

On April 18, 1942 at roughly 10:30am, B-26 "Shittenengitten" 40-1404 on a bombing mission over Rabaul attacked shipping in Simpson Harbor dropped its four 500 lbs bombs aimed at this ship, two missed hitting the shore (one did not explode), one 500lbs bomb scored a direct hit, the forth landed in the water. The ship's stern exploded violently and the ship settled with only the deck remaining above water.

The explosion set fires ashore among bombs and fuel that were being unloaded and set fire to buildings and the jetty. In total 11 KIA , 31 WIA from the Tainan Kokutai plus 11 others WIA. Captain Nakamura survived the attack. Later, eighty Australian POWs accused of applauding at the sinking ship were later beaten in retribution.

Around 2:00pm, Japanese shore batteries fire at the ship attempting to fully sinking it, but were unsuccessful. This was the first Japanese ship sunk into Simpson Harbor.

A Japanese soldier at Rabaul made a diary note:
“After air raid saw Komaki Maru alongside #3 pier flames rising from her bridge. From 2 o’clock in the afternoon our artillery fired at the ship and sank her.” (ATIS 172)

Shipwreck
Afterwards, the hull of Komaki Maru was filled with earth and sand making it into a pear. During the war, the ship was repeatedly bombed and strafed after being mistaken as an active ship.

Postwar, the shipwreck was filled with cement and became a permanent dock.

At one time after the war locals were using part of the wreck as an open toilet and so a sign was erected which read: “No ken pek pek” (Do not defecate). The wreck then became known as the “No ken pek pek Maru”. As, known as the "Wreck Wharf". To this day it is still most probably full of munitions and a very dangerous site. Never-the-less, for over 50 years now, it’s filled-in hulk has been used as a wharf.

Salvage Diver Johnno Johnstone recalled:
"I made several surveys of the wreck.  It was loaded with shell cases, some I recovered.  It was the propeller that I was after.  I had located a spare blade in the aft quarters, this was 3 1/2 tons.  Mean then the the main propeller would be nearly 14 tons, scrap value &2,000. I thought of the Florence [explosion killed salvagers], and struck Komaki Maru off my list!  I intended at a latter day to oxy-cut the shaft, even this was considered unsafe by the port authorities, and at their request I abandoned the wreck. Even after all their years I still regard it as a potential danger."

Today
The wreck was filled in, and is used as a wharf at the edge of Simpson Harbor, only the bow portion remains above water. It is still used to this day by smaller craft and locals ships to dock alongside. The unexploded bomb, reportedly dropped by the RAAF Hudson was removed in 1968 from the shore area

References
Note, other sources incorrectly state the sinking was caused by an aerial bomb dropped by a RAAF Hudson
"X Marks the Spot" by David Pennefather
Revenge of the Red Raiders pages 74-75
Hostages To Freedom page 191-192

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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