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424' 1" x 57' 4" x 34' 4"
129.3m x 17.5m x 10.4m
September 24, 1945
RNZAF October 14, 1945
Built by Osaka Iron Works at Innoshima in Japan. Purchased by Nissan Kisen K. K. 日産汽船 in Tokyo. Powered by two steam turbines double reduction geared to one single centerline shaft, 517 nhp. Laid down 1938. Launched February 6, 1939. Completed June 15, 1939 as Hitati Maru 日立丸. Call Sign: JZWM. Registered with Lloyd's of London between 1938–1945 as "Hitati Maru". Many sources spell this vessel's name as "Hitachi Maru" or "Hatachi Maru".
Hitati Maru was operated by Nissan Kisen K. K as a passenger and cargo vessel. The center smoke stack had a large "S" painted on a white background with two stripes. At the start of World War II, Japanese flag was painted amidships designating the vessel as flagged to a neutral nation.
On November 26, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) for use as cargo vessel. On December 3, 1941 converted by Mitsubishi Jukogyo K. K. (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) at Kobe for use as an ammunition vessel under the command of Captain Saeki Koji.
On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, Hitati Maru was at Kobe. Two days later registered as an ammunition ship in the Yokosuka Naval District. On December 28, 1941 departs for Kure where a new captain (name unknown) took command. Hitati Maru remained at Kure until February 1942.
In February 1942 departs for Takao on Formosa then departs in the middle of the month bound for the Neatherlands East Indies (NEI). On March 8, 1942 arrives Kendari then nine day later arrives Bangkok and departs on March 29. Two days later at Saigon then departs April 3, 1942 and five days later returns to Takao then leaves April 11, 1942 before arriving at Tainan. On April 22, 1942 departs bound for Saipan. On April 25, 1942 IJN requisition ends and on May 2, 1942 reaches Kure.
On June 15, 1942 registered as a special transport in the Kure Naval District and six days later departs arriving at Moji the same day. On June 22, 1942 departs arriving the next day at Miike and two days later departs for the Philippines. On June 30, 1942 arrives at Manila and departs three days later and arrives Saigon on July 7, 1942 and leaves three days later. On July 13, 1942 arrives Singapore and leaves four days later. On July 18, 1942 arrives at Zungun in Malaysia and leaves six days later back to Japan.
On August 6, 1942 arrives Osaka and leaves six days later. On August 13, 1942 arrives Yokosuka for two days then departs for Yokohama arriving the same day. On August 17, 1942 enters dry dock at Mitsubishi Jukogyo K. K. with an overhaul completed four days later.
On August 21, 1942 leaves Yokohama arriving Yokosuka the same day and is also reassigned to the 4th Fleet and embarks personnel and equipment for the 6th Special Naval Landing Force (6th SNLF). On August 24, 1942 departs Yokosuka in a convoy with Nisshun Maru and Kasuga Maru and Kamoi Maru escorted by Asashio for Kwajalein transporting the 6th SNLF and during the voyage Nisshun Maru detaches at Lat 26N 150E for Saipan.
On September 5, 1942 the rest of the convoy arrives at Emiej where the 6th SNLF disembarks. On September 13, 1942 departs as part of Convoy No. 6 with Kamoi Maru and Shotoku Maru escorted by Yuzuki and Shonan Maru No. 3 and Fumi Maru No. 3 and the next day arrives Tarawa where they are joined by Daido Maru.
On September 24, 1942 departs Tarawa escorted by Ukishima Maru and five days later arrives Truk and departs October 1, 1942 with the same escort. On October 4, 1942 arrives Ponape then departs a week later and returns to Tarawa.
On October 15, 1942 attacked by two SOC Seagulls from USS Portland (CA-33) that dive bomb scoring a near miss that causes light damage. One of the attacking Seagulls is damaged by anti-aircraft fire while the cruiser bombards Tarawa.
On October 1, 1942 departs Truk bound...
On January 5, 1943 departs Yokohama and arrives at the end of the month at Buka where it is assigned to the 1st Air Fleet and departs the same day. On February 1, 1943 arrives at Buin in southern Bougainville and the next day departs. On February 12, 1943 arrives on Ballale Island and departs the same day. On February 13, 1942 six B-24 Liberators escorted by six fighters bomb Japanese shipping between Bougainville and Shortland Island but Hitati Maru is not damaged.
On February 14, 1943 Hitati Maru was unloading (or reloading) at Buin or was in the vicinity of southern Bougainville. In the same vicinity are Toyu Maru, Nissan Maru No. 3, Hibari Maru, Nojima Maru and Kisaragi Maru. Around 11:30am, a formation of U. S. aircraft including nine PB4Y-1 Liberators from VB-101 escorted by ten P-38 Lightnings and twelve F4U Corsairs arrived over the Buin-Shortland area and commenced bombing the vessels.
At 11:48am, the vessels were bombed by the nine PB4Y-1 Liberators each releasing a single 1,000 pound bomb. The bombers claimed "several direct hits were made on an AK [Hitati Maru] which was seen to blow up. There was also a near miss on a DD [Kisaragi Maru]".
In fact, two 1,000 pound bombs near misses straddled Hitati Maru. The first amidships on the port side and the second off the starboard side. Aboard, four crew were killed (other sources state five were killed). The damage caused a 9m crack below the waterline and flooding. Also damage was sustained to the no. 3 cargo hold. Nearby, Kisaragi Maru was straddled by two near misses. Other sources state four bombs hit the ship (at least two were near misses on two vessels). No other Japanese ships sustained damage during the air raid.
The nearest of these vessels [Hitati Maru] lay off Lamuai village, a short distance northeast of Kangu. One Sunday afternoon fellow cadets Phil. Gridley, Cam. Robson and I obtained the loan of an outrigger canoe and paddled to Lamuai and the wreck of the Hitachi Maru [sic Hitati Maru]. She was an imposing sight, to say the least. She stood proudly upright with her bow pointing towards the beach, just as though she was lying at anchor, her crew having taken shore-leave for the afternoon. It was only when the bomb damage to her hull came into sight that the reason for her standing there became apparent. There was a long jagged gash stretching from about half-way down her starboard side towards the stern, as though somebody had swung a giant can opener and ripped her open in a mad frenzy. The bridge area on her port side had also been blasted and twisted by another well-placed bomb.
In its day the Hitachi Maru [sic Hitati Maru] must have carried both cargo and passengers as we came across what would have been a large stateroom, in which I found a cut-glass stopper for a liquor bottle. A navy barge was secured to the deck, and going on the litter of machine gun cartridge cases strewn about, it appeared that a desperate effort had been made by the crew to protect their vessel.
155° 46' E
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