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Yasukuni Maru (1930)
NYK Yasukuni Maru, Arriving in London, 1930
Career (Japan) Civil naval ensign ([Hinmaru])
Name: Yasukuni Maru
Operator: Nippon Yusen (NYK)
Builder: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Nagasaki, Japan
Yard number: 467
Laid down: 22 April 1929
Launched: 15 February 1930
Completed: 31 August 1930
In service: 1930
Out of service: 31 January 1944
Struck: 10 March 1944
Fate: lost in war
Status: Sunk by USN submarine off Truk
General characteristics
Class & type: Terukuni Maru class ocean liner
Tonnage: 11,933 gross register tons (GRT)
Length: 153.92 m (505.0 ft)pp
Beam: 19.51 m (64.0 ft)
Draught: 11.28 m (37.0 ft)
Propulsion: 2 Mitsubishi-Sulzer diesel engines, 10,000 hp (7,500 kW)
Speed: 18 knots
Capacity: 249
Crew: 177
Notes: Steel construction

Yasukuni Maru (靖国丸?) was a Japanese ocean liner owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK). The ship was launched in 1930 by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Nagasaki, on the southern island of Kyūshū, Japan, entering service in 1930. The ship was named for the Yasukuni Shrine, a famous Shinto shrine dedicated to the war dead of Japan, located in Tokyo.[1]


The Yasukuni Maru and her sister ship Terukuni Maru were built for NYK's fortnightly scheduled high-speed European service, coming into operation from the autumn of 1930.[2] Both ships were specially designed for tropical conditions, with state-of-the-art air conditioning and fresh air circulation systems, as their routing was south from Japan, through the Indian Ocean, Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea.[3] Both ships were initially designed for use with geared turbine engines for projected cruising speed of 18 knots. However, under increasing pressure from the Japanese government to use only equipment and technologies available domestically, the design was changed to use standard Mitsubishi-Sulzer marine diesel engines, which reduced cruising speed to 15 knots.

The 11,933-ton steel-hulled vessel had a length of 526.5 feet (160.5 m), and a beam of 64 feet (20 m), with a single funnel, two masts, and double screws. Yasukuni Maru provided accommodation for 121 first-class passengers and 68 second class passengers. There was also room for up to 60 third-class passengers. The ship and passengers were served by a crew of 177.[4]

Civilian career[]

Yasukuni Maru departed Yokohama on her maiden voyage on 22 September 1930 for London, with ports of call in between at Yokkaichi, Osaka, Kobe Moji, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang, Colombo, Aden, Suez, Port Said, Marseilles, and Gibraltar. On her return to Yokohama, she substituted Naples for Marseilles and arrived back at Yokohama on 18 October 1930. Thereafter, she entered regular service with NYK, following the same routing.

On 5 April 1934 Yasukuni Maru responded to a distress call from the Imperial Japanese Navy training cruiser Asama at Port Said, Egypt, and took off several ill sailors including an appendix patient.

In September – October 1939, at the request of the Foreign Ministry, Yasukuni Maru evacuated Japanese civilians, members of the diplomatic staff and some German nationals from Germany on the verge of World War II. She returned to Yokohama on 18 October 1939 after her final civilian voyage and was requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy on 25 October 1939.

Military career[]

Yasukuni Maru was classified by the Imperial Japanese Navy as an auxiliary transport, and briefly used to transport troops and war materials from Japan to China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. However, as the war situation stabilized, she was returned to NYK slightly more than a month later, on 11 December 1939.

On 29 October 1940, Yasukuni Maru was again requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese Navy, and was classified this time as an auxiliary submarine tender. She was taken to Kure Naval Arsenal, where her luxurious internal fittings were torn out, and she was repainted gunmetal grey. On 11 January 1941 she was assigned to the 1st Submarine Division of the IJN 6th Fleet. During the conversion, she was armed with six obsolete 152-mm/50 cal. (6-inch) guns in single mounts and two Type 93 dual mount 13.2-mm machine guns and fitted with one 1110-mm and one 900-mm search lights. During most of the remainder of 1941, Yasukuni Maru was based at Takao in Taiwan for patrols of Ryukyu Islands and the coast of China. However, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was based at Kwajalein. On 20 December 1941, she was assigned to the 3rd Submarine Division, still with the IJN 6th Fleet.[5]

Kwajalein was attacked on 1 February 1942 by aircraft from United States Navy Task Force 8 (USS  Enterprise (CV-6), with Yasukuni Maru hit by one bomb in her aft turret and damage to her stern. She returned to Kure on 1 March for repairs lasting to 23 April. She returned to Kure again on 23 November for repairs and regular maintenance.

In early 1943, Yasukuni Maru was assigned to “Operation C”, the reinforcement of the Japanese landing on New Guinea. Yasukuni Maru, with 1448 men and 11 tanks of the IJA 20th Infantry Division departed Pusan for Wewak on 8 January 1943 together with transports Hakozaki Maru and Aratama Maru and the destroyer Hatsuyuki. The convoy successfully delivers to reinforcements to Rabaul and Wewak. On 4 February 1943, Yasukuni Maru took on troops and supplies of the IJA 41st Infantry Division at Tsingtao, China, disembarking the troops at Wewak at the end of the month, and returning to Kure in early March. She was based at Truk in April, and was part of another troop convoy to Balikpapan in May. In October, she was part of the convoyed evacuating surviving Japanese troops from Wewak to Palau, and returned to Japan at the end of December 1943.

On 24 January 1944, Yasukuni Maru was assigned to a troop convoy departing Tateyama, Chiba for Truk. On 31 January, approximately 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Truk, the convoy was attacked by the US submarine USS Trigger (SS-237) and Yasukuni Maru was hit by two torpedos. She took on water rapidly, and sank within five minutes at 09°15′N 147°13′E / 9.25°N 147.217°E / 9.25; 147.217 with loss of 300 crewmen and 888 technicians. Escorting destroyer Japanese destroyer Shiratsuyu recovered only 43 survivors. She was struck from the navy list on 10 March 1944.[6]


  1. Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1935). The Nomeclature of the N.Y.K. Fleet, p. 50.
  2. [1]
  3. Arthur de Carle Sowerby, John Calvin Ferguson, China Society of Arts and Science The China journal, Volume 13. Page 136
  4. Kawata, T.Glimpses of East Asia (1936) Nihon Yūsen Kabushiki Kaisha, page 20
  5. Nevitt, Allyn D. (1997). "Yasukuni Maru: Tabular Record of Movement". 
  6. Brown. Warship Losses of World War II


  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1935). The Nomeclature of the N.Y.K. Fleet. Tokyo : Nippon Yusen Kaisha. OCLC 27933596
  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • Heal, Syd (2003). Ugly ducklings: Japan's WWII liberty type standard ship. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-888-X. 
  • Watts, Anthony J (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. Doubleday. ASIN B000KEV3J8. 
  • Williams, David (1997). Wartime Passenger Ship Disasters. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 1-85260-565-0. 

External links[]

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