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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 as a seaplane tender also known as hikotei-bokan (flying boat support ship). Launched July 25, 1941. Completed April 29, 1942. Commissioned on April 29, 1942 in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Akitsushima 秋津洲 with Captain Mayazumi Haruo in command.

Wartime History
On April 30, 1942 arrived at Yokosuka. On May 15, 1942 departed for Saipan arriving four days later. On May 20, 1942 departs Saipan bound for Rabaul arriving four days later. Assigned to Base Air Force, No. 1 Special Duty Unit of 5th Air Attack Force of the 11th Air Fleet. Between June 1942 until July 1942 bombed on ten different occasions at Rabaul, but was undamaged aside from a near miss on July 17, 1942.

On August 7, 1942 patrolled Gizo Channel to standby to rescue any downed Japanese airmen returning from air raids against Guadalcanal then returns to Rabaul on August 10, 1942. On August 15, 1942 departs Rabaul for Shortland, arriving the next day and remains until August 29, 1942 then departs Shortland for Buka arriving the next day and was bombed but undamaged. On September 1, 1942 bombed and sustained superficial damage then then departs for Shortland. For the remainder of September 1942 until early October 1942, operated between Shortland and Buka. Attacked by Allied aircraft on nine different occasions but sustained no damage.

On October 11, 1942 refueled by Kyoei Maru at Rabaul. During November 1942 operated at Rabaul and Kavieng and was bombed twice but undamaged. On December 4, 1942 departed Rabaul bound for Yokosuka arriving December 12, 1942 and Captain Takao Yoshimi takes command and enters dry dock.

On January 15, 1943 departs Yokosuka bound for Kavieng arriving a week later. On January 23, 1942 rescues most of the crew of torpedoed destroyer Hakaze. On January 24, 1943 and January 26, 1943 bombed at Rabaul without damage.

On February 1, 1943 arrived at Shortland for the next two weeks, bombed three times but was undamaged. On February 15, 1943 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 provisioned 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, 1943 at Jabor assigned to Eastern Force, No. 1 Special Duty Unit of Air Force, provisioned by Kitakami Maru and the same day departs for Shortland arriving two days later. On June 12, 1943 departs for Rabaul. On June 15, 1943 assigned to the 11th Air Fleet, 2nd Base Air Force, No. 4 Force of 21st Air Attack Force. On June 16, 1943 arrives at Imieji then departs two days later for Yokosuka arriving June 25, 1943 for five days.

On July 6, 1943 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 September 2, 1943 and is attached to the Combined Fleet under the 11th Fleet.

September 16, 1943 departs arriving at Shanghai four days later. On September 24, 1943 departs for Truk arriving October 2, 1943. On October 14, 1943 departs for Yokosuka arriving a week later. 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, 1943 then departs for Truk on December 3, 1943 arriving six days later.

Akitsushima remained at Truk for the remainder of December 1943 until early February 1944. On February 8, 1944 departs Truk on a ferry trip to Ponape and returns to Truk two days later with Akagi Maru. On February 15, 1944 departs Ponape with SC 33 bound for Truk arriving February 16, 1944 at 8:00am.

Damaged Truk Lagoon
On February 17, 1944 anchored to the northeast of Eten Island in Truk Lagoon during "Operation Hailstone" Akitsushima was mistaken as a tanker and attack by U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft from Task Force 58 (TF-58). In the morning targeted by planes from USS Intrepid (CV-11) during Strike 2A when Lt. Woodcook and Lt(jg) Garvey score hits with 1,000 pound bombs. One hit the forward bridge the other hit the fantail damaging the crane.

On February 18, 1944 carrier aircraft from USS Enterprise (CV-6) during Strike 1BE again attack Akitsushima with a single SBD scoring a bomb hit aft of amidships causing an explosion and a large fire but reached South Pass to escape further damage.

On February 19, 1944 arrives Woleai (Mereyon) and three days later departs for Palau arriving February 25, 1944 escorted by destroyer Hayanami. On March 4, 1944 assigned to the 14th Air Fleet and departs for Saipan arriving three days later. On March 9, 1944 departs Saipan bound for Yokosuka arriving five days later. On April 2, 1944 enters dry dock for repairs that are completed eleven days later.

On May 7, 1944 departs for Kobe and a week later enters dry dock until the end of the month. Remains at Kobe then on August 2, 1944 departs for Kure. On August 30, 1944 departs for Sasebo arriving the next day. On September 5, 1944 departs as part of convoy HI-75 via Moji and Imari Bay before arriving at Takao Harbor on September 13, 1944 then departs for Singapore, but during the voyage detaches for Manila Bay.

On September 21, 1944 in Manila Bay attacked by U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft from Task Force 38 (TF-38) without damaged then departs for Coron Bay arriving the next day and anchors in the narrow passage between Lajo Island and Manglet Island in Coron Bay.

Sinking History
On September 24, 1944 at 9:05am at anchor in Coron Bay, targeted by thirty U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft from Task Force 38 (TF-38). Hit by two bombs amidships, by 9:15am listed heavily to the starboard. Another bomb hit the stern catapult triggering a large explosion of aviation fuel and blew out the port quarter, nearly breaking the ship into two pieces. Soon afterwards, capsized and sunk at roughly Lat 11°59′N Long 120°02′E between Culion Island and Busuanga Island, both near Manglet Island. During the attack and sinking, 4 officers and 82 men were lost.

Rescue
After the sinking, Captain Fujimaki, 25 officers, and most of the crew including 25 wounded were rescued by Minesweeper No. 41 and Naval Transport T-102. Others crew members managed to swim ashore.

Shipwreck
On August 25, 1945 salvage divers from USS Chanticleer (ASR-7) locate the shipwreck of Akitsushima sunk in Coron Bay at a depth of 108' with a 90 degree list to port with pieces of wreckage found 50' astern.

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. A triple 25mm anti-aircraft gun Type 96 is located forward 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
Combined Fleet - IJN Akitsushima: Tabular Record of Movement
NHHC Japanese Naval Shipbuilding "Know Your Enemy! page 22
NHHC Princeton IV (CV-23) 1943–1944
"in Coron Bay sank Japanese flying boat support ship Akitsushima"
NHHC Bunker Hill I (CV-17) 1943–1966
"in Coron Bay sank Japanese flying boat support ship Akitsushima"
NHHC "The Battle of Savo Island August 9th, 1942 Strategical and Tactical Analysis" page 12
"The seaplane carrier AKITSUSHIMA and the aircraft transport Momigama Maru were at Rabaul"
NHHC "Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II by All Causes" pages 15, 100
NHHC Interrogations of Japanese Officials - Vols. I & II United States Strategic Bombing Survey [Pacific] page 442
"Q: Give me the names or description of your merchant ships sunk in CORON Bay, PHILIPPINES by carrier air attack in September 1944
A: I know the following: Naval vessels sunk... Akitsushima - provision ship"
NARA USS Chanticleer War History page 7
(Page 7) "On the 13th of August underway for the Jintololo Channel area in search of sunken wrecks for intelligence salvage purposes. Located and conducted salvage on several wrecks. On the 26th of August proceeding to Subic Bay the following message received from Commander Submarines Southwest Pacific Area. Services completed Com7thFlt say "Well done to the Chanticleer for efficient and extremely valuable operations." Returned to Subic Bay, P.I."
NARA USS Chanticleer War Dairy August 1-31, 1945 page 3
(Page 3) "19 August [1945]: 1433 Underway proceeding to Coron Bay to continue search for reported wrecks.
20 August: Anchored as before. 0640 Underway, proceeding to Coron Bay, P.I.
21 August: Underway as before. 0217 Anchored in Coron Bay, P.I.
21 to 26 August: Conduct salvage operations in Coron Bay, P.I. on sunken Japanese wrecks."
World War II Wrecks of the Truk Lagoon (2000) pages 115 (sketch), 120 (USS Intrepid during Strike 2A), 125, 128 (photo February 17, 1944), 165-166, 170, 273, 281, 377, 501 (index Akitsushima)
CoronWrecks - Akitsushima (site sketch)

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Last Updated
August 25, 2020

 

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