List of Japanese ships arriving and departing Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation WWII
List of Japanese ships arriving and departing Hong Kong during the Japanese Occupation WWII
Peter Cundall: Immediately prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War Hong Kong was a major commercial port, with Allied and neutral shipping using the port as a trading location free of Japanese control and a safe-haven for Chinese ships that would otherwise be seized. After the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong on 25 December 1941 the disposition changed instantly. Hong Kong became a secondary military port with Shanghai, Takao (Kaohsiung), Mako (Makung), St Jacques, Manila and Singapore the most significant. Commercial shipping activity largely ceased, except on a local scale.
Although downgraded in significance, Hong Kong remained extremely important to the Japanese war effort primarily as a ship repair and to a lesser extent, shipbuilding location. Many ships were diverted there for maintenance and repair. In addition, as a significant secondary port war supplies were brought in to support the Japanese troops in southern China.
This tentative listing shows the known or anticipated arrival and departure dates of Japanese ships during the occupation. As far as the author is aware the Japanese destroyed all their port records in the period between Japan’s surrender and British reoccupation. The primary documents relied on are therefore specific to vessels and units- not to Hong Kong port itself. The availability of large volumes of online records- many vessel specific – from Japan Center (sic) for Asian Historical Records (JACAR) has greatly assisted in this process.
While fairly comprehensive the listing is by no means complete. In some cases vessel arrival or departure dates are shown without the corresponding departure or arrival entry. In addition the daily coastal passenger services (the only commercial shipping activity of note) to Canton, Whampoa and later Kwangchowan (Fort Bayard) have been omitted.
Many dates are approximate- these are highlighted in green. The Japanese Shipping HQ at Ujina (for Army ships) would plan a series of port stops for a particular ship. The exact date the ship called would vary depending on weather, convoy delays, mechanical issues etc. So a ship scheduled as arriving 10 July might arrive 10, 11 or 12 July or even later sometimes.
As well as the ships the names of the convoys the ships sailed in have been added, where known.
Warship details are not shown- this information is readily available from multiple sources.
Readers with additional information or comments can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Peter Cundall 2
To view Peter’s Lists please click on the links near the bottom of this article.
A sample of Peter’s list:
Below is another list compiled by Peter:
Regular Visitors to Hong Kong 1942-45
Dates in brackets show the years the ship is known to have visited Hong Kong during the occupation.
- Goro Maru (1943-44) 35 300
- Horikoshi Maru No.15 (1943-44) 37 111
- Kaishu Maru (1943-44) 16 489
- Minkaku Maru (1944) 36 790 ex Man Guo (Br)
- Mori Maru (late 1943-44) 37 171
- Nankai Maru (1943) 12 451 ex Hsin Chang Wo (Br)
- Shirogane Maru (1942-44) 38 929
- Taisei Maru No.3 (late 1943-44) 33 140
- Tenri Maru (1943-44) ? 380 Identity unknown
- Yone Maru No.2 (1943-45) 27 153
Shipping quickly resumed after the British surrender with the first Canton service using the Setsuyo Shosen (OSK) operated Shirogane Maru that first departed Hong Kong 16 January 1942. Initially 3 ships sailed on the service with two departing 9am from Hong Kong and Canton respectively. From 19 January 1942 Shirogane Maru took over the daily service to Macau and was later transferred to the Kwangchowan service. The service became more irregular as the war progressed with the mining of the Pearl River and maintenance requirements likely contributing to delays. It is unclear if any effective service existed at war’s end.
- Chefoo Maru (late 1943-1944) 42 3218
- Choshin Maru (mid 1942-43) 35 314
- Daikyu Maru (mid 1943-end 1944) 20 1517
- Fukuei Maru (1944) 38 1868
- Hozugawa Maru (mid 1942-mid 1943) 41 1925
- Hsing Tung (Koto) Maru (mid 1943-mid 1944) 39 3364
- Ikomasan Maru (1943-44) 16 3173
- Jinju Maru (late 1943-44) 18 3192
- Kachosan Maru (1942-45) 24 2427
- Kaiko Maru (late 1943-44) 02 2698
- Kine Maru (1944-45) 24 2193
- Konei (Kiangning) Maru (1944) 41 3222
- Kosho Maru (1942) 39 330
- Kyuko Maru (1944) 43 3220
- Momo Maru (1943) 35 443
- Manko Maru (1942-43) 35 4471
- Miyaura Maru (1942) 18 1856
- Katsuura Maru (late 1942-45) 16 1735
- Maya Maru (1942) 28 3145
- Nisshin Maru (1944) 16 1179
- Okinoyama Maru No.5 (1944-45) 32 1543
- Rekizan Maru (1942- Jan 1943) 18 1311
- Sainan Maru (1943-44) 43 3200
- Sanfuku (Mifuku) Maru (mid 1942-43) 18 1211
- Shingu Maru (late 1943-44) 90 2745
- Shinto Maru (1942-1944) 19 1215
- Shinto Maru No.1 (1942-43) 39 1933
- Taishin Maru (1942-43) 18 1788
- Teiren Maru (1942-43) 09 3044
- Tenryo Maru (1942) 38 2293
- Tsukuba Maru (late 1943-44) 23 3171
Hong Kong appears to have been under predominantly Army control and most of the above ships were cargo ships operated by the Imperial Japanese Army. They operated widely on the China coast and in some cases further afield with no regular cargo service but routed to various destinations as required. The exceptions to some extent were the Toa Kaiun operated passenger/cargo ships of the Unzen Maru class (Chefoo Maru, Sainan Maru), Chinko Maru class (Konei Maru, Kyuko Maru) and Hsing Tung (Koto) Maru that operated an informal triangle run from Shanghai to Formosa and Hong Kong and return for military passengers only. Other ships of this type occasionally joined these ships that were the mainstay of military passenger traffic on the China coast.
China Coast Captured Vessels
- Bisan Maru (1943-1944) 34 3420 ex Ming Sang (Br)
- Gyoei Maru (1943-44) 95 2790 ex Apoey (Br)
- Gyoki Maru (Whampoa run) (1943-44) 43 140 ex MMS-95 or MMS-96 (Br)
- Gyokyu Maru (Whampoa run) (1943-44) 43 140 (or 42, 300) As above
- Gyoshin Maru (1943-44) 05 1976 ex Kanchow (Br)
- Gyoun Maru (1944) 90 916 ex Ethel Moller (Br)
- Gyoyu Maru (1942-44) 18 2232 ex Joan Moller (Br)
- Hakko Maru (1944) 16 1132 ex Randi (No)
- Joshu Go (1944) 17 1658 ex Hsu Chow (Cs)
- Kinmon Maru (1943-44) 21 2676 ex Kiangsu (Br)
- Shinko Maru No.1 (1944) 90 1200 ex Wing Wo (Po)
- Takasaki Maru (1943-44) 04 1460 ex Shinhwa (Br)
- Tenichi Maru (1944) 29 942 ex Tin Yat (Br)
- Tozan Maru (1943-44) 20 2604 ex Soochow (Br)
- Yulin Maru (1943-44) 00 6022 or 14 1893 ex Chung Hwah (cs)/Herleik (No)
The same comments as for China coast applies. Most of these vessels were salvaged in Hong Kong port and entered service in 1943
Tugs and Salvage Vessels
- Akitsu Maru (1942-early 1943) 40 610
- Haruta Maru (1942-early 43) 25 1515 ex Halldor (No)
- Hoshin Maru (1944) 34 1000 ex Ho Hsing (Cs)
- Kamishima Maru (1942) 41 527
- Miho Maru (1942) 24 632
- Sonjo Maru (1944) 88 1800 ex Chuen Tiao (Cs)
- Toei Maru (1942-44) 41 433
Almost all large ships in Hong Kong at the time of surrender had been sunk either by air attack, artillery or deliberate scuttling by the British authorities. Almost immediately after occupation the Japanese, primarily through the 2nd Naval Construction and Repair Dept, undertook a rigorous and effective salvage operation that continued until about May 1944. The majority of larger ships were salvaged by June 1942 and repaired over the following months into early 1943. From early 1943 on salvage vessels gradually dispersed to other locations but some remained, at least until sunk.
Navy Operated Ships
- Azuchi Maru (1941-42) 30 397
- Banshu Maru No.17 (1942-44) 23 459Banshu Maru No.17 Courtesy: Peter Cundall
- Kosei Maru (mid 1942- late 1943) 24 2205
- Koto Maru No.2 Go (1942-44) 37 3557
- Shokei Maru (1942-43) 38 2557
All these ships were operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy supplying naval garrisons on the China Coast and other locations. They were mostly Otsu (B) type transports that operated without an IJN Captain as Supervisor onboard.
As the war entered its later stages there was an increasing reliance on captured/salvaged smaller tonnage and smaller war built standards. The quality of these ships was significantly less than the ship’s used previously meaning that services became less frequent. Increased Allied air attacks using the 14th Airforce and later US Navy carrier based aircraft resulted in ship shortages and less vessel traffic.
© Peter Cundall 2020
This article was first posted on 10th August 2020.
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Our Index contains many articles on war time shipping in Hong Kong under World War Two…