Tsushima Maru PDF Print E-mail

Tsushima Maru Sinking

Off the coast of Akusekijima
22 August 1944


Not until more than twenty years after the end of the war did the crew of Bowfin learn that the unmarked, unlighted passenger-cargo vessel, Tsushima Maru, which Bowfin sank off the coast of Akusekijima on 22 August 1944, was loaded with 826 children. They, along with some of their school teachers and a few of their parents, were being transported from Okinawa to the mainland of Japan to escape the anticipated invasion of the Ryukyu Islands. Of those children, 767 were lost; only 59 were saved.

Survivors of the sinking were not allowed to speak of the incident under threats of extreme punishment.

The Convoy


Ships sailing in Convoy Namo 103 with Tsushima Maru, on 22 August 1944:

Kazuura Maru (listed as Waura Maru in some sources): 6,804 tons. May later have been declared and used as a hospital ship by the Japanese government.

Gyoukuu (source is unsure of transliteration) Maru. (Further information presently unavailable, although the ship may possibly be the 6,854 ton cargo vessel Gyoku Maru, which was sunk by USS Thresher (SS-200), at 35-05N, 124-24E on 18 September 1944.)

IJNS Hasu (destroyer, Momi or Kuri Class); Badly damaged 16 January 1945 at Hong Kong by aircraft of TF 38; surrendered September 1945 at Tsingtao and broken up 1946 at Sasebo. (from: Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945, pages 137-138.)

IJNS Uji (gunboat); Survived the war; surrendered August 1945 and transferred to China as Chang Chi; taken over by Communists in 1949 and re-armed by 1955. (from: Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945, pp. 118-119.)

After the War
The sinking has been the subject of many articles and books published in Japan, as well as a good number of documentary broadcasts and even an animated feature film. Memorial ceremonies are held at sea at the approximate location of the sinking, and there are monuments in Naha City, Okinawa, and on Akuseki Island for those lost at sea.

Discovery of the Wreck

An investigation team from the Japan Marine Science & Technology Center (JAMSTEC) found the sunken ship on 12 December 1997, in waters 10 kilometers northwest of Akuseki Island, Kagoshima Prefecture. The ship was positively identified by Dolphin 3K deep sea detection equipment, which video taped the portions of the sunken vessel and found the ship's name painted on her hull.


Following is a translation of a Waka Poem by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, for his Year-end Presentation in 1997 (Ninth Year of Heisei):

The sighting of wreck of the Tsushima-Maru

Foundered, with lives
Of the young evacuees
Held in her embrace,
The ship has been discovered
Far down in the ocean depths.

From: http://www.kunaicho.go.jp/gyosei/5syu3syuh09-01.html

Note of Interest

The periscope photograph shown below has appeared in publications both in the U.S. and Japan, misidentifying the vessel as Tsushima Maru. Because the attack occurred at night, between 2200 and 2230 (10:00 pm. and 10:30 p.m.), and the ship (confirmed by all accounts) sank in less than 15 minutes, this photo could not possibly be of Tsushima Maru. Furthermore, Bowfin did not take any photographs of this attack, and the vessel shown appears to be much smaller and of a different type than the 6,754 ton, 136 meter long passenger-cargo ship, Tsushima Maru.



Report of War Patrol Number Six, USS Bowfin (SS-287), pages 13 through 19, for 22 August 1944.
Information on Convoy Namo 103 from the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare


Hoyt, Edwin P., Bowfin, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1983 (pages 144-150)
Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter; and Mickel, Peter, Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1986.

Shinzato Seitoku, Ah, Gakudo Sokai Sen Tsushima Maru (Ah, School Child Evacuation Ship Tsushima Maru), Tsushima Maru Victim Bereaved Family Association, Naha, Okinawa, 1978 (in Japanese).


From Sea Technology: Tsuchiya, Toshio, "Acoustic Instruments in Deep Water Search for a Sunken Ship," Japan Marine Science & Technology Center (JAMSTEC), Tokyo, Japan

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Secrets of the Sub

How Does A Sub Stay So Quiet

How do submarines stay so quiet?

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Submarines are the ultimate “stealth weapon. Remaining underwater to attack or use its sensors, quietness is critical. Through design, modern nuclear submarines have equipment mounted on special mounts to isolate the noise from the outside and reduce the noise signature of the sub in the ocean. Rotating equipment is checked from the design through operation so it is always quiet and it is immediately repaired if it is not operating quietly. The sub checks itself with its own acoustic sensors and establishes the most quiet lineup of equipment for normal or critical operations. Overall, the reason the submarine is so quiet is because every member of the crew knows how important it is to remain quiet and undetected ensuring the submarine can perform all of its mission.

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