Kongō Maru (1935)

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Kongo Maru PostCard.JPG
pre-war Kongō Maru
Career Naval Ensign of Japan.svg
Name: Kongō Maru
Owner: Kokusai Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha (1935-1941)
Imperial Japanese Navy (1941-1942)
Builder: Harima Shibuilding and Co., Japan
Laid down: 22 February 1934
Launched: 7 December 1934
Commissioned: 5 March 1935
Struck: 20 March 1942
Fate: Sunk in combat on 10 March 1942
Status: Shipwreck
General characteristics
Displacement: 8,624 long tons (8,762 t)
Length: 453.5 feet (138.2 m)[1]
Beam: 60.7 feet (18.5 m)
Draught: 30.8 feet (9.4 m)
Propulsion: 1 x Kawasaki MAN diesel engines
9,048 shp (6,747 kW)
Speed: 19.63 knots (22.59 mph; 36.35 km/h)
Complement: 50
Armament: 4 x 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval guns,
•2 Type 93 13.2-mm machine guns
• 2x4 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes
Aircraft carried: 1x Kawanishi E7K floatplane
Kongō sinking at Lae

Kongō Maru (金剛丸?) was an 8,624 gross ton passenger-cargo ship built by Harima Shipbuilding Company in Japan for Kokusai Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha in 1935. She was requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War and converted to an armed merchant cruiser.

Civilian service[edit]

Kongō Maru was designed for Kokusai Kisen primarily as a freighter, although she had six first-class cabins, and could accommodate twelve passengers. She was completed on 4 March 1935. Kokusai Kisen received subsidies from the Japanese government for her construction, as part of a program to encourage the production of large, high-speed transports and tankers, which could be quickly converted to military use in times of conflict. She made her maiden voyage from Kobe to Penang via the Philippines on 8 March 1935.

From January 1937, Kongō Maru was leased to Nippon Yusen, and operated on trade routes to the eastern coast of North America via the Panama Canal. She set a speed record for crossing the Pacific Ocean in nine days, 10 hours in 1939 and continued to be operated on this route until August 1941.

Military service[edit]

On 6 August 1941, Kongō Maru was requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy and was converted to an armed merchant cruiser at the Harima Shipyards at Aioi. Single mount 14 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval guns were installed at her bow and stern, as were two Type 93 13.2-mm machine guns and two 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes. Her conversion was completed on 14 October and she was assigned to the IJN 4th Fleet’s “South Seas Force” and deployed to Truk. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kongō Maru was at Kwajalein, from which she deployed as part of the Japanese task force in the first attempt to invade Wake Island on 8 December 1941. She was bombed by USMC F4F Wildcat aircraft using depth charges, and caught fire. The fires were brought under control and she returned to Kwajalein. She later participated in the second attack on Wake Island on 21 December 1941, which succeeded in taking the island. After the battle, Kongō Maru was sent via Saipan, Truk and Guam to participate in the battle of Rabaul on 22 January 1942.[2]

During the invasion of Lae-Salamaua on 8 March 1942, Kongō Maru transported elements of the Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces to Huon Gulf in what is now eastern Papua-New Guinea. While still at Huon Gulf of 10 March 1942, Kongō Maru was bombed and sunk by aircraft from the United States Navy aircraft carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown at 06°49′S 147°02′E / 6.817°S 147.033°E / -6.817; 147.033.[2] She was removed from the navy list on 20 March 1942.

USS George CIymer Lends Helping Hand in Emergencies Picking up a back issue of ALL HANDS, a Navy officer read the article about how Navy ships stand ready at all times to come to the aid of vessels or aircraft of any nation in times of distress (“Away Fire and Rescue Party!” in the May 1953 issue). One of the ships cited in the article was the troop transport USS George Clymer (APA 27) “which had been among the vessels rendering aid when a blaze broke out aboard the merchant freighter USS President Pierce off the coast of Japan some time ago. The article told how in this instance the firefighting party from Clymer fought the stubborn fire for six hours. The writer of the letter goes on to say that the shop’s Fire and Rescue Party had participated in two other major fire-fighting and rescue details during the ship’s operations in the Far East. Here’s his report: “The first instance occurred about July 1951. Clymer was anchored in the outer harbor at Pusan, Korea. About 1200 a rapidly increasing fire was sighted on the adjacent beach. “The fire party was called away and proceeded to the beach. One of the several buildings of a Korean war orphan’s home was burning and was at the point of spreading to the adjacent buildings of the orphanage. “The fire party proceeded to assist in removing the children from the burning building, fought the fire and wet down adjacent buildings to prevent the flames from spreading. “The second instance occurred in the autumn of 1951. Clymer was in the storm anchorage at Sasebo, Japan, riding out a typhoon. “About 0900, on this particular Sunday morning, the ship was ordered to get underway and attempt to rescue approximately 450 military personnel aboard an ’MSTS-leased Japanese ship, the Kongo Maru “This ship operated between Pusan and Sasebo and made a cargo and passenger run each night. But now she was aground on an island about 40 miles from Sasebo. “We arrived on the scene at the very height of a typhoon. “With the storm kicking up in this fashion we were unable to do anything so we picked our courses and speeds for our own safety and steamed in the vicinity until the late afternoon of the following day when the wind and seas abated somewhat. “Despite the hazard of putting the boats. over at this stage, we lowered two LCMs and put a rescue party aboard Kongo Maru. The survivors were transferred to Clymer while our damage control parties worked on the Japanese ship. They did an excellent piece of work, incidentally, particularly our LCM coxswains, both of whom later received commendations. “Here are a few photographs taken during the rescue which you might feel are newsworthy.”-LCDR Ernest C. Meyers, USN. e Thanks for your interesting footnote to our story on the part the Navy plays in lending a helping hand on the high seas.-ED.


  1. ^ "Lloyd's Register 1942-43". plimsollshipdata. Retrieved 24 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b [tp://www.combinedfleet.com/KongoM_t.htm] CombinedFleet.com: Kongo Maru Tabular Record of Movement;


  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • Cressman, Robert (1999). The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1557501491. 
  • Devereaux, Colonel James P.S., USMC (1947). The Story of Wake Island. The Battery Press. ISBN 0-89839-264-0. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Foreign commerce and shipping of Empire of Japan