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435' x 58' 5" x 32' 8"
3rd BG Jan 7, 1943
Albert Cross 1965
Built by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding at Nagasaki. On July 3, 1934 laid down down as a cargo vessel purchased by Toyo Kisen K. K. in Tokyo. Launched January 22, 1935 as Tenyo Maru. Completed March 28, 1935 and afterwards chartered to Mitsui Ltd. for use as a cargo ship providing freight service to ports in the United States, Soviet Union and Venezuela.
On September 9, 1941 requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). On September 15, 1941 arrives Harima shipyard and converted into a mine layer and armed with a deck gun with the conversion completed October 31, 1941. Registered in the Kure Naval District. Captain Ishido Yuzo is appointed Commanding Officer and assigned to the Fourth Fleet, Mine Division 19 along with minelayer Okinoshima and Tokiwa.
On November 15, 1941 departs Kure. On December 3, 1941 with Okinoshima arrives Jaluit Atoll and three days later embarks troops and departs with Okinoshima and Nagata Maru. On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War departs at 1:0pm assigned to Operation Gi for the invasion of the Gilbert Islands with minelayers Tsugaru and Tokiwa transporting the 51st Guards Unit escorted by Asanagi and Yunagi with Chitose Kokutai aircraft providing air cover.
On December 10, 1941 at 12:45am with Okinoshima arrives Makin Atoll and disembarks Special Naval Landing Force (SNLF) troops and secures Makin Island. Meanwhile, Nagata Maru enters Makin Lagoon and unloads construction materials for a seaplane base completed two days later.
On December 14, 1941 Tenyo Maru unloads aviation fuel to Nagata Maru and departs later in the day. for Roi arriving two days later. On December 20, 1941 transfers aviation fuel to minelayer Tsugaru for air operations. On December 24, 1941 departs Roi for Wake Island arriving two days later then returns to Roi.
On January 4, 1942 at 6:00am departs Roi then three days later arrives Truk. On January 9, 1942 departs Truk bound for Guam arriving two days later then departs. On January 12, 1942 returns to Guam and departs two days later. On January 20, 1942 loaded with airfield construction materials, assigned to the invasion force bound for Rabaul. On January 23, 1942 at 2:25pm anchors off Rabaul.
On February 25, 1942 embarks troops for Operation SR the invasion of Lae and Salamaua on New Guinea. On March 5, 1942 at 1:00pm departs Rabaul and two days later enters the Huon Gulf. On March 8, 1942 begins unloading at Lae.
On March 10, 1942 off Lae targeted by U. S. Navy (USN) SBD Dauntless dive bombers from Scouting Squadron 2 (VS-2) from USS Lexington (CV-2). At 8:44am hit by two bombs that result in nine crew killed and cause the ship break into two halves. The rear section from the funnel to stern sinks with the bow section and king posts above the surface at roughly Lat 6° 49S, Log 147° 02E. On April 1, 1942 officially removed from the Navy list.
The bow section of the ship remained above the surface off the eastern edge of Lae Airfield. Until at least 1965, the bow of the ship was still visible above the water. Today the shipwreck is roughly 100 meters off the Lae Yacht Club. In the 1970s the visible part of the wreck slipped underwater after an earthquake.
Underwater, the shipwreck is intact and upright little coral growth. The bow is at a depth of 33' / 10m and the stern at a depth of 131' / 40m. A portion of the bow section is broken off from the bridge. Diving the shipwreck is only recommended only for experienced SCUBA divers. The shipwreck is covered with mud and extreme care must be made to penetrate inside the vessel where mines are visible and a deck gun is on the bow.
Lloyds of London Lloyd's Register of Ships - Tenyo Maru
Lloyds of London Lloyd's Register of Ships - Tenyo Maru 1934-1935 [PDF]
NARA Task Force 11 "Report of attack on enemy forces at Salamaua-Lae Area, 3/10/42" March 25, 1942 pages 1-45 (report), 46-128 (photos)
CombinedFleet - IJN Auxiliary Minelayer TENYO MARU Tabular Record of Movement
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