Maritime Monday for March 26, 2012: Whaling, Commodore Perry, and the Opening of Japan; pt. 2

Monkey Fist
Total Views: 41
March 25, 2012


Ships of The World 1963

Maritime Monday for March 19, 2012: Whaling, Commodore Perry, and the Opening of JapanPart 1


The View of the Hashima Coal Mine outside Nagasaki Harbour


Sakura Maru Being Built at Nagasaki


left: February 6, 1904: Japan’s foreign minister cuts all ties with the Russian Empire in reaction to the dispute over Manchuria. (Kajima)

right: February 8, 1904 Russo-Japanese War: Three hours before Japan’s declaration of war is received by the Russian Government, the Imperial Japanese Navy, in a surprise attack on the Russian Far East Fleet at Port Arthur, Korea, disables seven Russian warships.

see also: A Photographic Record of the Russo-Japanese War


US Army Transport (USAT) SHERMAN taking on coal at Nagasaki, Japan

sailed from New York City on February 2, 1899. The Regiment arrived in Manila, PI, on March 22, 1899 to take part in actions connected with the Philippine Insurrection until March 18, 1902.

another photo on Flickr


Imperial Japan’s 1904–05 war against Tsarist Russia changed the global balance of power. The first war to be widely illustrated in postcards, the Japanese view of the conflict is presented in images from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection of Japanese Postcards at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

article: ASIA RISING: Japanese Postcards from the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)


Navy Commander Hirose Takeo by Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1904

“Captain Hirose,” who perished while returning to find one of his missing men, was perhaps the single most celebrated Japanese hero in the Russo-Japanese War.

In the following print, the respectful treatment of the final moments of Russian vice-admiral Makarov, who went down with his ship along with 800 men, is every bit as tragic and poignant in its way as Captain Hirose’s death.

images & articles: Throwing Off Asia:
part three: The Russo-Japanese War

article: Russo-Japanese War News – May 1905


SHIKISHIMA Flagship in Yokohama Harbor
One of Japan’s greatest Battlships of old, designed and built in the UK.

Hand-tinted silver print, originally photographed as a stereoview ca.1904-05 during the Russo-Japan War. See also: The ASAMA in Yokohama Harbor — Waiting for Emperor Meiji to Board

see also: Shikishima class battleship and Asama class cruiser


The Japanese Warship Niitaka‘s logbooks give us insight regarding the military plans for
Dokdo Island by Imperialist Japan during the Russo Japan War of 1904~1905.

The Japanese Imperial Navy battle cruiser Tsushima and her sister ship the Niitaka both conducted surveys of Liancourt Rocks to determine the islands suitability for watchtowers and telegraph stations just months before the islands annexation during the 1904~1905 Russo Japanese War

– article: Japan’s Takeshima – Dokdo and Japan’s Imperial Navy
Logbooks of the Japanese Imperial Navy Warship Niitaka


Depiction from the French periodical Le Petit Journal (1894) of the sinking of the
Kow-shing and the rescue of some of its crew by the French gunboat Le Lion

article: Sinking of the Kow-shing on wikipedia


– The Battle of the Yalu River 1894 –

The Imperial Japanese Navy destroyed 8 out of ten warships of the Chinese Beiyang Fleet off the mouth of the Yalu River on 17 September 1894. Japan’s command of the sea was assured.


False depiction of Chinese delegation, led by Admiral Ding Ruchang and their foreign advisers, boarded the Japanese vessel to negotiate the surrender with Admiral Itō Sukeyuki after the Battle of Weihaiwei. In reality, Ding had committed suicide after his defeat and never surrendered.

website: Overview of the Sino-Japanese War

image: Sunken-Ship Matsushima and Battle-Ship Tokiwa


Wreck of the steamship DAKOTA, Japan, 1907

Great Northern Steamship Company’s SS Dakota with 2700 passengers sunk off the coast of Japan, March 7, 1907. The passengers abandoned the ship, which was later destroyed by a storm.

Along with her sister ship, the SS Minnesota, she was described as the largest steamer in the world flying the American flag. She was built “to give impetus to the trade with the Orient”, trading with Japan and Hong Kong and traveling the Pacific route. Launched in February 1903, she was a twin screw vessel with four masts and one funnel, capable of 14.6 knots.

She was wrecked when she struck a reef off the coast of Yokohama on 3 March 1907. The ship was close enough to shore to avoid any deaths and the passengers and cargo were evacuated before she sank.. The passengers returned to the United States aboard the Japanese steamship Hakuai. Eighty bags of mail later washed ashore.

After the ship was lost, Hill vowed not to make any more ships under the American flag, noting the high cost of maintaining a ship in America compared to Japan due to restrictions he regarded as “onerous”.

more on wikipedia


Wreck of the cargo liner SS Dakota, March 3, 1907. Bow view of the vessel sinking

– see also: SS Dakota and SS Oregon at dock


In southern Japan women free-divers have been collecting the flora and fauna of the sea for 2,000 years. Traditionally they wore only loincloths in far-from-warm waters.

Traditions don’t get much more exciting than mostly-nude women in the water with pearls and sharks and whatnot. These divers are known as ama, or sea women.

Deep Blue Home


The Mitsubishi Dockyard, Nagasaki Japan


The No. 1 Mitsubishi Dock Yard, Nagasaki Japan


Pacific Mail Steam Ship Company vessel Minnesota in Mitsubishi Dry Dock, Nagasaki JAPAN, 1911


Coaling on the Ship at Nagasaki Harbor

article: Nagasaki 1910s: Taking on Coal


Nagasaki Naval Training Center


Toyo Kisen Kaisha / Oriental Steamship Company

Yokohama, early 1900s; Ports of call:
Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama, Honolulu, San Francisco
fleet information on The Ships List


Tenyo Maru
This Japanese steamship was the oil-burning, turbine-driven ocean liner that carried the Japanese Friendship Dolls from Yokohama to San Francisco in 1927

see also: Toyo Kisen Kaisha; (Oriental Steamship Company) Japan – Early 1920s (brochure)


Here is a collection of early 20th century travel posters for Japanese steamship companies (from the book Miwaku no Funatabi, published by the Museum of Maritime Science, 1993)

Japanese steamship travel posters
on Pink Tentacle


Shell Pickers at Honmoku Near Yokohama
At Work in Old Japan

Yokohama Foreign Traders; Sadahide, 1861


Keihin Industrial Zone: Burning of the Prefectual Office and Customs House
– Great Kanto Earthquake, September 1, 1923 –


On board Chichibu Maru going to Japan, June 1931
In the center are Prince and Princess Takamatsu who were returning from a world tour.
see full size


Built: 1930 Yokohama Dock Co., Yokohama, Japan
Operator: Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK)
Speed: 19 kn – Passengers: 817

Built for Yokohama – San Francisco run. In 1942 she became a transport ship for the Japanese Navy and was also used as a hospital ship. On 04-28-1943, while on a voyage from Manila to Singapore she was torpedoed and sunk by the US submarine Gudgeon.



JAPAN’S FAMOUS LINERS – NYK LINES (Now Crystal Cruises) on Cruising the Past
(advertising her Sulzer diesel engines)

The Asama Maru was a Japanese ocean liner owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha. The ship was built in 1927-1929 by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Nagasaki, Japan. The vessel was created as a twin of the Tatsuta Maru, and both ships were named after important Shinto shrines.

Asama Maru on wikipedia –


left: NYK Line (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) Japan
Sailings April 1922-March 1923

right: Plan of Passenger Accommodation Motor Ships Asama Maru & Tatsuta Maru
The Orient-California Fortnightly Service N.Y.K. Line, 1929
Published by the N.Y.K. Line (Nippon Yusen Kaisha)

detailed histories of
MS Asama Maru; 1929 – 1944, MS Tatsuta Maru; 1930 – 1943 and MS Chichibu Maru; 1930 – 1943 on DerbySulzer


The Tatsuta Maru (16,975 grt, 584 ft. long) commenced her maiden voyage between Yokohama and San Francisco in April 1930. The transliteration of her name was changed to Tatuta Maru in 1938. She became a troop transport for the Japanese Navy in 1941, but ended her days two years later when sunk by a US submarine. Her sister-ship the Asama Maru was near-identical, whereas a half-sister, the Chichibu Maru, was slightly larger with only one funnel.

click here to see interiors


CP Ships / Canadian Pacific Steamships
Sailings November 1928-August 1929


The China Marines; Asiatic Fleet (more) –

The term China Marines originally referred to those United States Marines from the 4th Marine Regiment who were stationed in Shanghai, China during 1927 – 1941 to protect American citizens and their property in the Shanghai International Settlement during the Chinese Revolution and the Second Sino-Japanese War

more on wikipedia


Countdown to Infamy: Timeline to Pearl Harbor

imageEditor’s note:  A very weird website I stumbled on while compiling this week’s MM.  I had no intention of veering into Pearl, I mean, really?  What can I bring to it that we all haven’t already read (or seen in the movies) but this was just too strange to pass by without at least a mention. 

Someone has put together a website with a very detailed timeline of events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and used vintage WWII comic panels to illustrate it.  The images are pretty piss poor quality, to be honest, but hell… they get an A for effort.


Japanese postcard: steamship Nagasaki Maru

World War II: 13 May, 1942 — The ocean liner struck a mine and sank in the Pacific Ocean off Nagasaki with the loss of 39 people. Her captain later committed hari-kiri.


Built for Yokohama – San Francisco service; 30 October 1928 – crew of 330
1941: troopship for the Japanese Navy
1 NOV, 1944: torpedoed and sunk by USS Atule in the South China Sea

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. In transporting Allied prisoners, it was amongst those vessels which earned the epithet “hell ships.”

The Prisoners of World War were basically transported either from the Philippines or Singapore to work in Japan, Korea or Taiwan as constrained labourers. While aboard the vessels, these prisoners not only faced severe dearth of food, ventilation and water but also had to deal with the attacks carried out by the Allied Powers.

Many such hell ships were destroyed by Allied Powers’ air and submarine attacks, leaving many POWs dead – either on the ship itself or by unintentional raids.

In a way it can be said that the Japanese purposefully used ships to transport POWs so that they could be killed without any interference from their side. The prisoners contained within a hell ship were used to be bolted and locked so that even when a missile hit the vessel, they had no way of escaping and saving their lives.


The Lisbon Maru, Japanese steamship carrying POWs, sunk by US submarine Grouper off Shanghai, many died, but others escaped, some of whom died over the succeeding weeks.

Japanese “Hell” Ships 1942 to 1945

As Allied forces closed in, the Japanese began transferring POWs by sea. Similar to conditions on the Bataan Death March, prisoners were often crammed into cargo holds with little air, food or water for journeys that would last weeks.

Many died due to asphyxia, starvation or dysentery. Some POWs in the heat, humidity, lack of oxygen, food, and water became delirious and unresponsive to their environment. Unlike weapons transports which were sometimes marked as Red Cross ships, these prisoner transports were unmarked and were targeted by Allied submarines and aircraft.

– more: Japanese hell ships on wikipedia –


On 4th September 1944, convoy HI-72 sailed from Singapore. One of the ships, was the Rakuyo Maru, which carried 1317 POWs. On the 12th of September the Rakuyo Maru was torpedoed by the US submarine Sealion at around 5:00am. The Rakuyo Maru lost 1159 prisoners to the sea and the after effects of being in the water for up to 4 days.

Japanese Hell Ships on Royal Marines online


Tottori Maru; one of 20+ so called Hell Ships. She was empty when sunk by USS Hammerhead

Hell Ship to Singapore (January 1943)

The first week of January 1943, a thousand men from our camp, [Samethini] among them, were transported to Batavia (Jakarta) in a boarded-up train. One week later we were crammed, 1,100 men, into an old Japanese freighter, not knowing where the Japs were going to bring us. We were packed deep inside the ship, like herrings in a tin can. The hatches above us were open day and night, so we suffered the intense heat of the sun during the day. When it rained hard, the Japanese sailors put a tarp over the open hatch. We got very little food and drink, and pretty soon it got suffocating down there…

The so-called toilets were small, wooden spaces along ship’s railing. To get there, we had to climb a very steep and long steel ladder. Once there, we often had to wait in line for a long time. If there were too many in line, according to the guard, he would use the butt of his rifle to beat them back down the ladder. On top of that, many prisoners came down with dysentery. Those patients were unable to climb the ladder, and did everything where they were. We had to clean the mess because the illness is contagious. Many could not sleep for fear the ship would be torpedoed by the Allies during the night. Many of us felt mentally and physically broken soon, especially those with families left behind. In a word, it was misery….



Yanks Go Mad On Agony Ship

Dead Crammed In with Living In Hell-Hold of Jap Vessel

ARMS OUTSTRETCHED, BEGGING — American prisoners, crammed into hold of Jap prison ship, reach for light and air as comrades suffocate in dark recesses behind them. Men were driven mad by the heat, darkness and fetid air of the three holds.

News From the Past: 11 chapter serial of “The Death Cruise”


Nagara Maru & Naruto Maru – The Nagara Maru sailed from Manila on August 12, 1942 carrying 180 mostly senior POWs. It arrived in Takao, Formosa on August 14, 1942. During September – November 1942 the Nagara Maru made another trip carrying 600 British POWs from Singapore to Rabaul and Ballale.

This painting shows what the Naruto Maru would look like since both ships were of the same class. The Naruto Maru left Rabaul, New Britain on July 6, 1942 carrying 79 POWs and arrived in Yokohama, Japan on July 21, 1942. Nineteen of these POWs were women including six Australian nurses.

more on Hellship Information and Photographs

HistoryWW II: Singapore, The British, Evacuation and the Hell Ships

American POWs on Japanese Ships Take a Voyage into Hell Prologue Magazine

“Hell Ships” – Britain at War –
Rolls of those who perished on Hell Ships


Hell Ship Mutiny (1957)

Original Republic Pictures One Sheet Poster (27×41) for the Lee Sholem and Elmo Williams action adventure starring Jon Hall, John Carradine, and Peter Lorre. Hall plays the captain of a small ship in the South Seas who discovers a band of gunman led by Carradine that have enslaved the natives to make dangerous dives for pearls.


These stylish matchbox ads for Japanese bars, cafes and restaurants date from the 1920s to 1940s. See the complete Flickr photoset (uploaded by maraid) for much more.  —via PinkTentacle

image“Japan deserves the concentrated attention of all our armed forces in the Pacific. One way to give the enemy attention is to find out all we can about him. This book is provided for that purpose. Other ways are by bombing his cities, sinking his shipping and destroying his factories. We are doing that. The best attention we can pay him is to invade his homeland. Every island we have taken has been a stepping stone to the Japanese Empire. In war it is not the first step but the last which count the most. On the sea and under the sea, through the air and across the land we will move together in the final step to victory.”

C.W. Nimitz,
Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy

Pocket Guide to Japan

image[55]Prepared by US Army Information Branch, for the War and Navy Departments.

We are going to make it impossible for Japan to go to war again – she must be made to realize that peace can bring greater rewards than war.

The United States armed forces will fight their way to Japan and occupy her home islands. The chances are you will fight your way in. Or maybe you will march in after Japan surrenders. At any rate, if you do go there, you will have a responsible job.

image[58]The presence of the American fighting man in Japan will help to deflate the Japanese of their cock-eyed ideas that they were born to rule the world. It will help to show them that they are not the master race in Asia or anywhere else. It will show them that their dreams of invincibility were sheer nonsense and that their mission during the last 80 years was anything but divine…


see entire brochure (including emergency phrasebook)


Japanese Delegation on the Battleship USS Missouri (BB-63)
Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945


MacArthur staged the historic Japanese surrender ceremony on the deck of the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. For a special touch he had the Navy Academy release the historic ensign that Commodore Matthew Perry had flown from his flagship in 1853, when he spent a grand total of 8 days off Japan. MacArthur ordered the ensign displayed on the battleship for all to see. (source)


Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945 / Naval Historical Center


Why do the Japanese hunt whales? on Animal Planet
(image left) – (image right)


THE OCTOPUS — A Japanese Fisherman Struggles for his Life



Luggage label for the “N.Y.K. Line, Stateroom,” circa 1929

Monkey Fist

Monkey Fist is a smack-talking, potty mouthed, Yankee hating, Red Sox fan in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to compiling Maritime Monday, she blogs about nautical art, history, and marine science on Adventures of the Blackgang.

Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at [email protected]. She can also out-belch any man.

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