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Built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding at Yokohama as a 6,702-ton refrigerated cargo ship ship for Takachiho Shosen K. K. Laid down on November 7, 1936. Launched on February 27, 1937 and named Kozui Maru. Completed and registered as a 7,508 gross ton register.
On November 2, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as an auxiliary transport. On November 10, 1941 attached to the Maizuru Naval District and under order no. 1391 converted at Maizuru Navy Base at Maizuru into an auxiliary transport (charter) completed January 6, 1942.
Assigned to R Sakusen (Operation R) and departs for Rabaul arriving February 1, 1942 and is assigned to the landing at Gasmata (Tsurumi). On February 4, 1942 embarks No. 2 Maizuru Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) and is scheduled to depart the next day but is delayed for unknown reasons and the troops are disembarked. On February 7, 1942 they reboard again.
On February 8, 1942 at 6:00am departs Rabaul with Kinryu Maru bound for Gasmata. On February 9, 1942 at 2:50am arrives Gasmata Harbor and by 3:35am her troops are loaded aboard Daihatsu landing craft that land and occupy Gasmata and Gasmata Airfield.
On February 11, 1942 in Gasmata Harbor with Kinryu Maru. Bombed by three RAAF bombers: Hudson A16-91, Hudson A16-103 and Hudson A16-126. This ship suffered three direct hits near the no. 3 hatch that caused leaks in the hull, but was deemed to be minor damage and is able to continue operations. Aboard, four of the ship's crew were wounded plus one member of airfield unit was killed and three others wounded. During the attack the ship's anti-aircraft gunners claimed to shoot down one Hudson, their gunfire might have damaged Hudson A16-91.
After the attack, both damaged ships underwent temporary repairs at Gasmata. Minelayer Tsugaru assisted in patching a waterline hole on Kozui Maru that was repaired by February 13, 1942 and embarks some of the Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) soldiers then departs for Rabaul arriving the next morning.
On April 29, 1942 assigned to MO Sakusen (Operation MO) the invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby and departs Rabaul bound for Tulagi. On May 3, 1942 arrives in Tulagi Harbor and unloads. On May 4, 1942 at the start of the Battle of the Coral Sea at 8:15am U. S. Navy (USN) carrier aircraft from USS Yorktown CV-5 including twenty-eight SBD Dauntless dive bombers from VS-5 plus twelve TBD Devastators attack the Japanese invasion force and Kozui Maru sustains damage.
Afterwards, returns to Rabaul then departs for Japan arriving at Kawasaki on June 13, 1942 and three days later to Otaru and a day later departs. On June 20, 1942 arrives Yokohama and departs six days later. On June 29, 1942 arrives Otaru. On July 7, 1942 docked for repairs and installation of guns and equipment. On July 22, 1942 repairs are completed. On August 6, 1942 departs Maizuru.
On October 14, 1943, sunk by a torpedo fired by the USS Grayback (SS-208) at roughly Lat 27-35N Long 127-30E. , then eludes counterattacks by escorting Takasaki. Three crewmen, four gunners and 21 passengers are killed in the attack. at 4:45pm USN codebreakers intercept and decrypt a message from Takasaki that reads: "Kozui Maru received enemy submarine torpedo attack. I am conducting hunter-killer operations.” At 4:59pm codebreakers decrypt another message from Takasaki that reads: “Kozui Maru sank.”
At 7:02pm, a decrypted message intercepted stated: “Of the crew of 107 [from the Kozui Maru], 77 embarked in Nichinan Maru, 30 are missing, 6 killed or wounded. At 1830, left.”
We Who are About to Die: The Story of John Lerew (2007) pages 194-197
Combined Fleet - Kozui Maru Tabular Record of Movement
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