Built at Kawasaki's shipyard in Kobe. Laid down March 11, 1937. Launched June 12, 1937. Completed November 1, 1937. Operated by the Kawasaki Kisen K. K. Line as a cargo vessel and refrigerator ship.
On October 31, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Between November 10-19, 1941 converted into a seaplane tender at Innoshima Yard of the Osaka Tekkosho K.K with two seaplane catapults and armament installed. Attached to the Combined Fleet as a "converted transport (misc)".
On November 28, 1941 at Kure embarks the Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) bound for Palau.
On January 6, 1942 departs Davao transporting the Kure No. 2 Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF)
as part of a convoy of thirteen vessels bound for Tarakan. On January 9, 1942 participates in the Japanese landing at Tarakan Island.
On August 24, 1942 departed Kure bound for Shortland.
On December 2, 1942 departs Yokosuka bound for Shortland and delivers twelve F1M2 Petes to operate from Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base.
On December 31, 1942 departs Yokosuka bound for Shortland. On February 12, 1943 returns to Yokosuka for repairs.
On March 1, 1943 the Kunikawa Maru and Kamikawa Maru are assigned to the 938 Kokutai (938 Air Group). Afterwards, Kunikawa Maru operates as a seaplane tender the Kamikawa Maru serves as an aircraft transport.
After reparis are completed, departs Yokosuka March 18, 1943 bound for Shortlands then supports seaplane operations at Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base.
While departing Balikpapan, it was damaged on the port side by a mine laid by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Catalina on April 29, 1944. After completing temporary repairs on May 8, 1944 the ship was being towed and while departing Balikpapan it hit another mine, and became grounded. The ship was refloated on on September 29, 1944 and remains at Balikpapan and moved to No. 5 berth.
On May 21, 1945 moored in Balikpapan Harbor in No. 5 berth, Kunikawa Maru was targeted during a bombing raid. Hit by a bomb in her no. 7 hold and damaged by several near misses. Aboard, eight sailors were killed and the ship sank at 1:10pm.
Combined Fleet - Kunikawa Maru Tabular Record of Movement
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April 6, 2021