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  Sagami Maru
Troop Transport

7,189 Tons

2 x deck guns
AA guns

Click For Enlargement
NYK 1939

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Click For Enlargement
USN November 3, 1942
Ship History
Built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd at Yokohama. Laid down May 2, 1938 as a 7,189-ton passenger cargo ship. On November 27, 1939 launched as Sagami Maru. On July 6, 1940 completed and delivered to Nippon Yushen Keisha Shipping Line (NYK) with a crew of 68 with four VIP rooms, twin topside decks, special refrigerated cargo holds, and silk-lined rooms. In civilian use, the ship had a large Japanese flag on the bow and amidships.

During July 190 departs on her maiden voyage on the South American route and made ports of call at Hong Kong, Moji, Kobe, Yokkaichi, Yokohama, Honolulu, Hilo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Manzanillo, La Libertad, Balboa, Buenaventura, Callao, Pisco, Mollendo, Arica, Iquique and Valparaiso until August 1941.

On September 11, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) as No. 864 and converted into a Sakito Maru Class Auxiliary Transport for use as a troop transport. with deck guns and anti-aircraft guns and camouflaged with a three color dazzle scheme. On November 6, 1941 departs Moji bound for Wusong (Woosung) in northern Shanghai. On November 28, 1941 arrives Samah (Sanya) on Hainan Island.

On December 4, 1941 at 6:00am departs Samah as part of a convoy transporting elements of the 25th Army bound for the Gulf of Thailand escorted by light cruisers, destroyers, minesweepers and subchaser. While at sea, Sagami Maru, Hirokawa Maru, Kinka Maru, Tozan Maru escorted by destroyers Shinonome and Shirakumo are detached as part of the as part of the invasion force bound for Pattani.

Wartime History
On December 7, 1941 arrives off Pattani in Saim (Thailand). On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War successfully lands the 5th Infantry, 42nd Regiment and 22nd Airfield Unit.

Afterwards, at Guangdong in China. In early February 1942 arrives Makassar on Celebes (Sulawesi) and embarks personnel and cargo for the upcoming invasion of Bali. On February 17, 1942 at night departs Makassar with Sasago Maru depart with the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 48th Infantry Division embarked escorted by destroyers bound for Bali.

On February 19, 1942 at 2:00am, Sagami Maru lands unopposed at Denpasar on southern Bali. While unloading, spotted by USS Seawolf (SS-197) fired two Mark 14 torpedoes at Sagami Maru and two at Sasago Maru but all miss or prematurely detonate and the submarine is driven off away. During the day, U.S. bombers escorted by fighters bomb the landing force and Sagami Maru was damaged and withdraws from the area escorted by destroyers Arashio and Michishio until detached to chase Allied warships retreating northward. Afterwards, Sagami Maru departs under her own power and is repaired, likely by repair ship Yamabiko Maru at Makassar then returns to Japan for additional repairs.

On June 3, 1942 departs Mutsure as part of the Riku convoy escorted by destroyers and patrol boats and five days later arrives at Manila. On July 2, 1942 departs Manila as part of "E" convoy escorted by a destroyer and four days later arrives at Mako. On July 8, 1942 arrives Ujina.

On September 29, 1942 departs Singapore transporting part of the Japanese Army 38th Division and mountain gun (less two battalions, engineer regiments (less 2 companies) and Division signals as part of a convoy including Sagami Maru, Noto Maru, Nagara Maru and Kinagawa Maru. On October 4, 1942 arrives Belawan, Sumatra and loads more troops, horses and supplies then departs via Surabaya (Surabaja) on Java. On October 19, 1942 arrives Rabaul and afterwards departs for Davao.

Sinking History
On November 3, 1942 anchor just off the beach in Talomo Bay inside Davao Gulf when again spotted by USS Seawolf (SS-197) anchored just off the beach in Talomo Bay and fired a torpedo that exploded midship at 10:50am, causing the vessel to list 30°  starboard before settling into shallow water, while the bow gun began firing at the submarine while the ship righted itself.

At 11:31am USS Seawolf (SS-197) made a second attack shoring another hit in the aft of the ship at 11:31am “when the smoke cleared away the after gun platform and the entire topside was vacant of people. The forward gun (was) manned but not firing.” and was down 10' in the stern, but not sinking. At the nearby dock area, observers were watching the attack.

Finally, USS Seawolf (SS-197) made a third attack before noon, and observed the flags were lowered and five life boats transporting crew from the ship to the dock. After this attack, the Seawolf was attacked by three Japanese aircraft and two ships, and was forced to dive to 200' and maneuver for over two hours to escape.

The shipwreck is covered in heavy silt with low visibility inside the interior. The midship is at a depth of 68m / 223' with the stern at 73m / 239'. Inside the cargo holds are trucks, motorcycles and ordinance, the shipwreck can be penetrated from the forward and aft holds, the topside decks, the galley area and the broken-off smoke stack. The stern propeller is missing or removed.

Combined Fleet - IJA Transport SAGAMI MARU: Tabular Record of Movement
incorrectly lists loss on November 3, 1943 [sic November 3, 1942]
Japanese Naval and Merchant Shipping Losses During World War II by All Causes (1947) pages 35 (Sagami Maru / Passenger-Cargo / 7,189 / 7-02N, 125-33E / Submarine / Sunk"), 115 (index Sagami Maru)
The Sagai Maru and the USS Seawolf by Carlos Munda
Tech Asia Divers Institute - The Sagami Maru - Gulf Of Davao August 10, 2020

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Last Updated
November 12, 2023


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