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  Kamoi (Kamui)
Seaplane Tender
Fleet Oiler

17,000 tons
496' x 67' x 28'
2 x 5" guns
2 3" guns
12 floatplanes
or 22 as cargo

Click For Enlargement
IJN date unknown

Click For Enlargement
IJN 1926

Click For Enlargement
IJN December 1937
Ship History
On September 12, 1921 laid down by New York Shipbuilding at Camden, New Jersey. Sold to Japan. Launched on June 8, 1922 and named "Kamoi". Other sources list the ship as "Kamui" (God's Power). Departed Philadelphia on September 27, 1922 and arrives at Yokosuka on December 15, 1922.

During February 1933, Kamoi is converted to a seaplane tender at Tokyo Uraga Dock Company completed by June 1, 1934, capable of carrying twelve Kawanishi E5K1 three-seat reconnaissance floatplanes tail code “5-xx”, or 22 stored as cargo and can also operate as an oilier.

During September 25, 1935 "Fourth Fleet Incident" Kamoi is caught in a typhoon when other ships are damaged (unknown if Kamoi was damage).

On January 28, 1937 departs Yokosuka with Okinoshima with destroyers Asanagi and Yunagi for Carolines and Marianas to survey the sites for potential military bases. The group visits a total of 21 ports and also surveys 11 locations from the air for sites that can be used as future airfields, and returns to Yokohama by June.

During June 29 - July 5 1937, participates in maneuvers with Yokohama Kokutai, along with Okinoshima, Asanagi and Yunagi.

After Prince Nobuhito Takamatsu, younger brother of Emperor Hirohito and a staff officer at the Naval General Staff, received the news about the disappearance of ’s Model 10 Electra piloted by Amelia Earhart, he persuades Japanese Navy Fleet Admiral Prince Fushimi Hiroyasu to order Kamoi to search for Earhart but the order contained no information about where she was lost and a few hours later was canelled. Note: other sources erroneously place Kamoi at Saipan on July 3, 1937.

On July 6-8, Kamoi was at sea bound for Futami on Chi Chi Jima on July 6-8, and July 8 headed for Ise Bay.

On July 19, 1937 arrives Ise Bay, then during August returns to northwest Formosa, then to Shanghai. On October 12, 1937 two E8N2 Dave floatplanes from Kamoi take off on a reconnaissance mission over Nanking. Intercepted over the target, one is lost during a collision with a Curtis Hawk, the other is damaged and lands on the Yangtze River, but is strafed and sunk.

During May 1938, supported Japanese operations off Kulangsu Island and during August operated on the Yangtze River against the Chinese, and participates in the October 12-25 attacks against Canton. During October 1939, departs China and is assigned to the newly established 4th Fleet at Truk Lagoon during November 1939.

During 1940, refitted as a seaplane tender. In January 1940, Kamoi with Chitose and Kinugasa Maru travel to Truk Lagoon with construction materials to build Dublon Seaplane Base, making several trips to Japan for more materials. Afterwards, searches Roi, Wotje and Jaliut Emidj for future seaplane base locations in the event of war and to provide service for the Yokohama Kokutai seaplanes.

During 1940, services Dai Nippon Koku Kaisya (Greater Japan Air Lines) Type 97 Kawanishi H6K Mavis flying boats offering regular air service from Yokohama via Palau to Saipan.

Wartime History
At the start of the Pacific War on December 8, 1941 Kamoi was at Truk Lagoon. During January 23, 1942 supports the Japanese occupation of Rabaul.

On April 1, 1942 reassigned to the 11th Seaplane tender Division. Operates from Balikpapan and on October 17, arrives at Surabaya, Java departing October 22 and arrives at Singapore on October 25. Departs on October 29 for Penang, arriving on November 3, Port Blair on the 5 and returns to Singapore. On January 23, 1944 arrives at Kendari and departs on the 26th for Makassar.

On January 28, spotted by USS Bowfin SS-284 and tracked, but forced to evade her seaplanes. Surfacing at 2100, the sub fires six torpedoes, but all miss. At 2329 fires two more torpedoes, both hit damaging the ship and taking on water near the bow. A final torpedo fired misses, and closes on the surface, but is fired on. At 2348 the sub fires a final torpedo that hits between the bow and bridge, forcing the ship to beach to prevent sinking.

On January 29, towed to Surabaya for emergency repairs by 102 Repair unit, then departs for Singapore and undergoes repairs at Seletar Navy base starting on February 1. On April 15, the seaplane gear is removed, converting the ship as a fuel tanker only. Conversion is completed by August 29 at Singapore.

On September 6, departs Singapore in a convoy with Kyokuto and Okigawa Maru escorted by destroyers Satsuki and subchaser CH-30 and CH-33. Arrives at Miri on September 8. On September 15 departs for Manila Bay with another larger convoy, but detaches from the convoy at Bacuit Bay, Palawan and proceeds to Coron Bay.

On September 24, while in Coron Bay, attacked by USN aircraft and Kamoi is damaged, but escapes to the open sea, returns to Bacuit Bay on September 25 and proceeds to Manila Bay with another convoy, but instead the convoy goes to Takao.

Still damaged and proceeding slowly, Kamoi is attacked on September 27 by USS Bonefish SS-223 and hit by one of four torpedoes, and further damaged roughly 240 miles southwest of Manila Bay. On September 29 arrives at Manila Bay and emergency repairs are made at Cavite Navy Yard, then departs for San Fernando with another convoy, departing October 6. The same day, the convoy is attacked by USS Aspuro SS-309 and USS Cabrilla SS-288. The convoy arrives at Lapoc Bay at 1830.

On October 7, warned of US Navy activity, the convoy splits, with Kamoi and other ships departing for Yulin, China. At 600, Kamoi with Tachibana Maru and subchaser CD-8 proceed alone. The warning is cancelled and the ships proceed to Takao as planned, but on October 9, Tachibana Maru is sunk at night by a torpedo attack by USS Sawfish SS-276 and damages CD-8. The next night, the sub sinks Tachibana Maru. Departing alone, Kamoi proceeds to Hong Kong, arriving alone and is dry docked for extensive repairs by 2 Repair Unit.

Damaged during an air raid on November 5, 1944, but repairs continue then departs for Japan.

On December 31, departs Japan with another convoy leaving form Moji for Singapore via Takao and Manila Bay, but the convoy holds at Chusan Islands on January 3-5, 1945 due to threats of attacks. Proceeding, the convoy is attacked by US Submarines. On January 8 anchors at Takao, then departs on January 10 for Mako, Pescadores, but is diverted to Hong Kong instead due to air attacks.

During January 15 air attack, damaged at Hong Kong. On January 16 suffers a near miss from a US Navy aircraft at 1124 and at 1240 a direct hit in the engine room immobilizing the ship. Later that day, P-51st strafe Kamoi and start fires.

Sinking History
On April 5, 1945, USAAF B-24s bomb shipping in Hong Kong Harbor, hitting Kamoi and damaging the ship severely. Three days later, the ship flounders as a result of flooding and is abandoned on April 13.

During 1946, the wreck is raised and scrapped by the British. Officially, the ship is removed from the Japanese Navy list on May 3, 1947.

Letter Pacific Society, Hiroshi Nakajima letter to TIGHAR March 13, 1995 regarding movements of Kamoi (Kamui).
Pacific Society Vol 15 No. 2/3, September 1992
IJN Seaplane Tender/Oiler Kamoi: Tabular Record of Movement

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Last Updated
August 31, 2020


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