Asama Maru 1931
|Operator:||Nippon Yusen (NYK)|
|Builder:||Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Nagasaki, Japan|
|Laid down:||10 September 1927|
|Launched:||30 October 1928|
|Completed:||15 September 1929|
|Out of service:||1 November 1944|
|Fate:||lost in war|
|Status:||torpedoed and sunk by USS Atule in the South China Sea, 100 mi (160 km) south of Pratas island|
|Tonnage:||16,975 gross register tons (GRT)|
|Length:||583 ft (178 m)|
|Beam:||71 ft (22 m)|
|Propulsion:||4 Sulzer diesels, quadruple screws|
|Speed:||21 knots (39 km/h)|
The Asama Maru was built for the trans-Pacific Orient-California fortnightly service; and she was characterized as "The Queen of the Sea." Principal ports-of-call included Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kobe, Yokohama, Honolulu, Los Angeles & San Francisco. On her fourth voyage from Yokohama to San Francisco, the speed of the ship's crossing surpassed the previous record.
The first passenger liner built by NYK was Asama Maru. The ship was built by Mitsubishi at Nagasaki on the southern island of Kyushu. The Asama Maru was launched on October 30, 1927. She left Yokohama on September 15, 1929 on her maiden voyage to California.
The 16,975-ton vessel had a length of 583 feet (178 m), and her beam was 71 feet (22 m). The ship had four diesel motors, two funnels, two masts, quadruple screws and a service speed of 21 knots. The Asama Maru was the first Japanese passenger liner to be propelled by diesel engines.
The ocean liner provided accommodation for 222 first-class passengers and for 96 second-class passengers. There was also room for up to 504 third-class passengers. The ship and passengers were served by a crew of 330.
Before Japan's entry into the Second World War she was intercepted by the Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Liverpool 35 miles (56 km) from the coast of Niijima on 21 January 1940. Alerted to reports that Axis sailors in the United States were preparing to arrange transport to Germany, the British Government had authorised the Commander-in-Chief, China Station to direct a warship to detain certain passengers providing the coast of Japan was not within sight. The Liverpool removed 21 of the ship's passengers believed to be survivors of the scuttled German liner Columbus. The Government of Japan condemned it as an abuse of belligerent rights and formally protested the action, which further escalated tensions between the two countries.
In 1941 the ship became a troopship for the Imperial Japanese Navy. In the summer of 1942, it was used in the repatriation of the prewar diplomatic staffs of Japan and the Allied nations, the exchange taking place at what is now Maputo, Mozambique. In transporting Allied prisoners, it was amongst those vessels which earned the epithet "hell ships."
On November 1, 1944, Asama Maru was torpedoed and sunk by the US submarine USS Atule in the South China Sea 100 miles (160 km) south of the island of Pratas. 98 of 201 crew, 21 of 266 gunners and 355 of 1,383 military personnel and passengers are killed.
- Levine, David. Graphic Design from the 1920s and 1930s in Travel Ephemera: "Plan of Passenger Accommodation Motor Ships 'Asama Maru' & ' Tatsuta Maru,'" 1929.
- NYK (HongKong): history.
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- Derby, Sulzer: poster, speed record.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1935). The Nomeclature of the N.Y.K. Fleet, p. 50.
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- Marder, Arthur Jacob (1981), Old Friends, New Enemies: The Royal Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy, p106
- Giese, O., 1994, Shooting the War, Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, ISBN 1557503079
- "Asama Maru (+1944)". Wrecksite. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
- Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1935). The Nomeclature of the N.Y.K. Fleet. Tokyo : Nippon Yusen Kaisha. OCLC 27933596
- Tate, E. Mowbray. (1986). Transpacific steam: the story of steam navigation from the Pacific Coast of North America to the Far East and the Antipodes, 1867–1941. New York: Cornwall Books. ISBN 978-0-8453-4792-8; OCLC 12370774
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