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2 x AA guns
11th BG October 14, 1942
USN October 16, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagasaki. Laid down March 27, 1940 as a 7,180 Tons passenger-cargo vessel for Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line (NYK). Launched March 13, 1941 as Sasako Maru (also spelled Sasago Maru). Completed June 28, 1941. On July 8, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and converted as a troop transport no. 806 with two anti-aircraft guns.
On November 5, 1941 departs Ujina bound for Shanghai. On November 29, 1941 at 2:20pm arrives Samah on Hainan Island transporting the Imperial Japanese Army 5th Division. On December 4, 1941 departs Samah as part of Operation E the invasion of Malaya.
On December 7, 1941 arrives at Singora (Songkhla) in southern Siam (Thailand) begins unloading troops and equipment without strong opposition then departs for Camranh Bay. On January 20, 1942 departs Camranh Bay and two days later arrives Singora. On January 26, 1942 arrives at Endau in Malaya. Afterwards to Makassar.
On October 10, 1942 at Rabaul attached to the Combined Fleet to transport the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) 17th Army under the command of Lt. General Hyakutake Harukichi high speed convoy (first assault convoy) transporting roughly 4,500 soldiers, artillery, engineers, tanks plus cargo via Shortland Harbor to land reinforcements on Guadalcanal.
On October 12, 1942 departs Rabaul transporting the Imperial Japanese Army (IJN) 230th Infantry Regiment (less 2nd Battalion) soldiers and cargo including a Type 97 Chi-Ha tank 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 that proceed southeast to Shortland Harbor. At 2:00pm roughly 100 miles off Shortland spotted by U.S. aircraft and attacked by 30 planes without damage. At 3:30pm again targeted by U.S. aircraft 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.
On October 15, 1942 around midnight the transports arrive off Tassafaronga Point on Guadalcanal. Sasako Maru begins unloading near Bunani Point and by dawn has unloaded her troops, tanks and guns. 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 caused a fire and was deliberately run aground but was a total loss. At 11:50 B-17 Flying Fotresses 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 deliberely run aground and beached with the bow ashore. On October 15, 1942 Sasako Maru sank near Bunani Point on Guadalcanal.
Fates of the Crew
A total of 85 crew survived the air strikes and sinking and joined Japanese forces ashore.
The shipwreck is lying on its port side and is a dive for the very experienced diver as the wreck begins at a depth of 197' / 60m.
Also spelled "Sasago Maru".
Combined Fleet IJA Transport Sasako Maru: Tabular Record of Movement
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 / Sasako / Passenger-Cargo / 9,258 Tons [sic 7,180 Tons] / 9-25S, 159-55E / Sunk by Navy Land- Based Aircraft Marine Land- Based Aircraft"
197' / 60m
Iron Bottom Sound
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