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  Kyūsyū Maru (Ruinin Wreck)
IJN
Passenger Cargo
Troop Transport

8,666 Tons
466' 9" x 62' 3" x 41'
2 x AA guns

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USAAF October 16, 1942

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U.S. Army 1942


U.S. Army Nov 15, 1942


USN November 1943

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USMC 1944

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USN 1944

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1959

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Peter Flahavin 1998
Ship History
Built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Shipyard & Machinery Works. Laid down August 10, 1937 with yard no. 711 as a 8,666 Ton passenger-cargo ship with twin screws, oil engine with three decks and a cruiser stern for Harada Kisen K. K. registered in Osaka. Launched December 18, 1938 as Kyūsyū Maru (also spelled Kyushu in English) named for Kyūsyū Island in Japan. Completed May 31, 1938 and chartered to Osaka Shosen Kaisha, K. K. (OSK Line). On July 9, 1938 departs Yokohama on her maiden voyage to New York and operates as a passenger and cargo vessel.

Wartime History
On July 8, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) but retained her civilian crew as an Ippan Choyosen (B-AK). On October 5, 1941 released from Navy service. Afterwards, requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) as No. 906 and converted to a troop transport with a single field gun added as defensive armament.

On November 27, 1941 at noon arrives at Samah on Hainan Island and joins the convoy transporting the 25th Army under the command of Lt. General Tomoyuki Yamashita. On December 4, 1941 Kyushu Maru is part of the "Singora Invasion Unit" that departs with escorts bound for the Gulf of Thailand (Gulf of Siam). On December 7, 1941 at 11:40pm anchors off Singora (Songkhla) in southern Siam (Thailand) and begins unloading troops and equipment without strong opposition until December 8, 1941 when hostilities commence and four days later returns to Samah.

On February 20, 1942 at 4:00pm departs Camranh Bay assigned to the 10th Malaya Reinforcement Convoy including the 1st Division: Kyushu Maru, Aobasan Maru, Kansai Maru, Nagara Maru, Nako Maru and Sado Maru and 2nd Division: Canberra Maru, Hirokawa Maru, Sagami Maru, Sakito Maru and Sasako Maru escorted by light cruiser Sendai and destroyers Fubuki and Shikinami. On February 22, 1942 at 6:00pm arrives Singora.

On June 4, 1942 departs Hesaki as part of a convoy with Kaisho Maru, Nisshin Maru and Tatekawa Maru and the next day transits Bungo Strait.

On October 10, 1942 at Rabaul attached to the Combined Fleet to transport the 17th Army under the command of Lt. General Hyakutake Harukichi as part of a high speed convoy (first assault convoy) transporting roughly 4,500 soldiers, artillery, engineers, tanks plus cargo via Shortland Harbor to reinforce Guadalcanal.

On October 12, 1942 departs Rabaul transporting the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) soldiers and cargo as part of a high speed convoy "Tokyo Express" with Sado Maru, Azumasan Maru, Kyusyu Maru, Nankai Maru, Sakito Maru and Sasako Maru, escorted by destroyers Akizuki, Yudachi, Harusame, Samidare, Murasame, Shigure, Shiratsuyu and Ariake proceed southeast bound for Shortland Harbor. At 2:00pm roughly 100 miles off Shortland attacked by thirty U.S. planes that that failed to cause any damage. At 3:30pm again targeted by U.S. planes without damage.

On October 13, 1942 at Shortland Harbor and prepares for the remainder of the voyage down "The Slot" to the southeast. On October 14, 1942 departs Shortland Harbor and proceeds southeast down "The Slot" towards Guadalcanal by late afternoon the convoy was near the southeast tip of Santa Isabel Island and was were again targeted by U.S. planes without damage and the force continued to proceed southeast to Guadalcanal.

Sinking History
On October 15, 1942 around midnight the transports arrive off Tassafaronga Point on Guadalcanal. Kyushu Maru begins unloading near the mouth of Ruinin Creek at Ruaniu to the west of Bunani Point (Bunina). At 6:00am six F4F Wildcats strafe the transports with one shot down and other damaged. At 10:30am U.S. aircraft from Henderson Field attack the transports including SBD Dauntless dive bombers, Airacobras and eight F4F Wildcats and a PBY Catalina. Sasako Maru was hit by a bomb that started a fire and deliberately run aground but is a total loss. At 11:50 B-17 Flying Fortresses bomb the transports and hit Azumasan Maru.

Around 1:30pm, U.S. aircraft again strike resume and Kyushu Maru was hit by a bomb and set on fire and is deliberately run aground and beached. Although the transport has unload all troops, tanks and guns, the remaining fuel and ammunition aboard is lost. The damaged, burning ship was abandoned and partially sunk with the bow sticking out of the water near the mouth of Ruinin Creek to the west of Ruaniu on Guadalcanal. Officially stricken by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) on December 15, 1942.

Shipwreck
The shipwreck of the Kyūsyū Maru was beached with the bow sticking out of the water near the mouth of Ruinin Creek near Ruaniu to the west of Bunani Point on
Guadalcanal. The entire bow was angled upward with gun mounts visible. The port side of the bow had damage at the waterline and the forward king posts bent backward towards the stern with the upper half of the center funnel at the waterline and the tip of th stern mast above the surface.

During early February 1943 when the U.S. Army captured the area, this shipwreck was partially above the surface. Afterwards, the shipwreck was often photographed by American personnel visiting the area. During the 1960s, the upper surfaces of the ship were cut off and salvaged for scrap metal. By the late 1990s, some planks of metal from the ship remain piled high on the beach and lying along the waters edge.

By the late 1960s, due to earthquakes and scrapping the rest of the shipwreck slid underwater. Known locally as the "Ruinin Wreck". Today, the shipwreck is roughly 65' / 20m off shore. The bow is at a depth of 16' / 5m with the stern at a depth of 151' / 46m. The remaining
shipwreck is
heavily damaged by bombing and scrapping. Over the years, SCUBA divers have claim the shipwreck still has artillery shells in their original packing and carbonized remnants of biscuits with writing still readable. Rice bowls and the remains of uniforms can be seen in the better-preserved deeper sections of the shipwreck.

Deck Guns
After being run aground, at least one Type 38 (1905) 75mm Naval Gun was removed from Kyūsyū Maru and emplaced by the Japanese Army and emplaced to fire eastward toward the Lunga River and Henderson Field. By the late 1990s, this gun remained in situ and had a faded white color.

Two gun mounts, likely recovered from Kyūsyū Maru or Kinugawa Maru were removed from the shipwrecks during the war or postwar by scrappers. Aquired by Fred Kona, they were displayed at the Vilu War Museum until at least 1999-2000.

References
Note, Kyūsyū Maru was damaged and beached on October 14, 1942 but U.S. sources list sunk October 15, 1942
Lloyd's of London Kyusyu Maru : Lloyd's Register of Ships
Note, there was another Japanese vessel named "Kyushu Maru" (without macrons) built 1936, 633 Tons 170' x 28' x 15' 5" owned by Amagasaki Kisen Bu Gomei Kaisha registered in Osaka.
Lloyd's of London Register of Ships 1938-39 - Kyūsyū Maru 78001 8,666 Tons [PDF]
Combined Fleet KYUSHU MARU: Tabular Record of Movement
Marines in World War II Historical Monograph The Guadalcanal Campaign Chapter VII: Expansion to the West and The October Attack on the Airfield pages 111-112
"The Japanese convoy consisted of the following ships, under escort by 8th Fleet Units Sasago Maru, Nankai Maru, Sado Maru, Sakido Maru, Kyushu Maru, and Azumasan Maru. The following units were embarked at Rabaul early in October--the exact date has not been determined: 38th Field Antiaircraft Battalion, 4th Heavy Field Artillery Regiment, 7th Heavy Field Artillery Regiment, 6th Independent Rapid Fire Gun Battalion, one company of the Independent Mortar Regiment, 76th L/C Hospital, 230th Infantry Regiment Headquarters, including sundry attached units, two battalions of the 230th Infantry Regiment, and replacements--a total of abut 4500 men... all troop ships and supply ships got through to Tassafaronga on 13-14 October. Kyushu, Azumasan, and Sasago were sunk by planes from Henderson Field, but not before having discharged all personnel and most of the cargo. Sado, Nankai, and Sakito discharged passengers and cargo and escaped. Beached cargo was badly damaged by the attack which crippled the three ships. (footnote 16: USAFISPA Report, p. 15.)"
Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II By All Causes - Chronological List of Japanese Merchant Vessel Losses page 34
Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II by All Causes page 34
"Date: October 15, 1942 / Kyushu Maru / Passenger-Cargo / 8,666 Tons / 9-25S, 159-55E / Sunk by Army Aircraft Navy Land- Based Aircraft Marine Land- Based Aircraft"
History of the Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (1952) pages 101-102 (October 15, 1942)
Thanks to Peter Flahavin for additional information

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Last Updated
October 19, 2021

 

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