Forum: Japanese Ships - Historical Discussion
Topic: Uritsky
started by: Rod Dickson

Posted by Rod Dickson on Apr. 11 2001,2:30
In the book AND I WAS THERE by Rear Admiral Edwin Layton, pg 220-221, he makes reference to the possibility of a Soviet freighter sailing from San Francisco to Valdivostok possibly passing the Kido Butai on it's way to Pearl Harbor - but nothing happened since both the Japanese and Soviets felt it was in their benefit to say or do nothing.  Has the Uritsky accidental crossing of paths with the Japanese Strike Force ever been investigated further?
Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 11 2001,7:09
Did you read on to page 261?

"...If the Uritsky did sight the Kido Butai that last Friday of peace int he Pacific, her master did not make the customary sighting reports in plain Morse on the recognized international shipping frequencies.  They could have been made after the freighter was safely out of range of the Japanese fleet.  Although no such reports were picked up...."

IF comrade captain had spotted Kido Butai he would have had to have decided on his own that it wasn't worth reporting.  Otherwise you will have to suppose that he was briefed before hand to avoid noticing those ships.  And how would he get such orders?

The Japanese reported after the war that Kido Butai was not spotted in transit.  Building a house of cards around "it's just possible" and "therefore it might have been" is not proof that they lied.

Posted by David Aiken on Apr. 11 2001,8:01
Hi Rod and Larry,
When the Japanese consul in San Francisco reported to Tokyo of the Uritsky (and another Soviet ship) leaving port, there has been huge speculation that its course for Vladivostok would cross that of the Kido Butai.

According to the shipping records from San Francisco, the next port of call for these two ships was Astoria, not Vladivostok.

Thus this is a case of "much ado about nothing".

Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 11 2001,7:27
" Thus this is a case of "much ado about nothing".

As always.  Ever hear about the LURLINE being frantically loaded with dependents the night before the attack?  Lady told me she had been hustled out of bed and rushed down to the dock.  Her husband kissed her and said, "tomorrow you may be a widow!"

Now, I wonder why nobody else ever heard about this, especially since she said that hundreds of dependents were on board?  So, I looked it up.  LURLINE was on a regular route between Hawaii and San Francisco.  I have no doubt the lady was on board on Dec. 7th, but I doubt it was a sudden evacuation.

Posted by David Aiken on Apr. 12 2001,6:38
Hi Larry,
The SS Lurline left Oahu on Friday, 5 Dec, thus is not on Ernie Arroyo's roster of ships present. His roster is more complete than the average, and his research continues as he tries to identify select ships. One is the dredge seen in photos in LIFE magazine across Kaneohe Bay of the battle.

Oh, yes, SS Lurline returned to Oahu, under escort, to bring needed hospital supplies (among other material) and on Christmas Eve or Day (Ernie may know the exact time) returned to California with wounded and the wives and children so often mentioned.

Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 12 2001,7:37
I noted that departure in the harbor master logs in the PHA.   The nice lady was certain it was Saturday night.  Another misremembered event that spawns a myth.

I had a guy call me and ask me to send a copy of his father's testimony to him.   He called back later and wanted to know what "edition" of the PHA I was using.  Seems Dad didn't remember saying what was in the transcript.  The elder gentleman was asking how many times the PHA had been "opened and changed".  I replied that I was second owner of the original copy I was using.  It was evidently their impression that there was one copy that could be edited at will.  This is sort of like saying you can remove someone from the phone book after it's delivered.  It's possible, but wildly unlikely.  You'd have to track down every copy, out of 10,000 IIRC, and make seamless changes AND THEN everybody that had their information changed would have to agree to that change.

The conspiratorial mind is an amazing thing.

Posted by Rod Dickson on Apr. 13 2001,12:23
Thanks all for clearing up the story of the Russian ship.
I didn't realize what a feat it was to sail undiscovered from Japan to Hawaii until I flew from Honolulu to Narita.
That was quite an accomplishment of stealth for the IJN.
Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 13 2001,7:37
I've sailed those waters with the USN more than once.  It's not at all surprising that the Kido Butai wasn't spotted.  Even in the 80's it was unusual to see a ship on that route.  It's just not a very good sealane.  When you consider that the whole fleet never spotted a single vessel other than their own you can appreciate why they took that road.  We had declared it an "empty sea" because of the absence of traffic.

The whole problem with myths of this kind is the amount of work needed to clear them up.  Some are easy, like Shiraya's "location, course and speed" broadcast.  Others can only be busted by delving into dusty records in obscure places. Without Dave's access to "the shipping records from San Francisco" I would not have been able to tell you where Tovarisch Uritsky was going after she left there.

Then you have to have the correct information in one place and accessible.  Hopefully this board will be one place people can go to "get it straight".  The combined efforts of people who care about the truth should undo the best efforts of people who care about making a buck or two off conspiracy "fans".

Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 14 2001,10:27
Here's an interesting message:

27 Nov
From: 1stSecNavSec
Imperial Hq.
To: Striking Force
"Although there are indications of several ships operating in the Aleutians area, the ships in the Northern Pacific appear chiefly to be Russian ships. ... They are Uzbekistan (about 3,000 tons ... 12 knots) and Azerbaidjan (6,114 tons less than 10 knots). Both are westbound (from San Francisco)." SRN-116667

Seems the Japanese knew what Russian ships were going where.  Odd they don't mention Uritsky.

Posted by David Aiken on Apr. 15 2001,10:04
Ahhh Yes Larry,
Uzbekistan and Uritsky are the same ship...sort of like Peping and Beijing.
Posted by Larry Jewell on Apr. 15 2001,10:41
"Curiouser and curiouser" quoth Alice.  

This new batch of intercepts (new to me anyway) will require further study.  I _hate_ paraphrasing, something always gets left out, and it's usually something you wind up needing.

Posted by mjbollinger on Feb. 03 2005,7:23
Unfortunatley, this is not at all true.  URITSKII and UZBEKISTAN are two very different ships.

Uritskii (Урицкий) operated with registration UOAX.  It was built in 1929 by Ordzhonikidze Shipyard #189 (aka Baltic Shipbuilding & Engineering Works) in Leningrad.  It was an ISKRA-class cargo ship of 2513 GRT.  It operated until 1957.

Uzbekistan (Узбекистан) operated with registration UVBY.  It was constructed in 1937 by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire in St. Nazaire.  It measured 3039 GRT and was wrecked in 1943.

There were numerous Russian ships sailing between the U.S. and Russia in late 1941 but I have see no evidence indicating any such ship encountered the Japanese fleet.  The only hard data at all is the warning about UZBEKISTAN and AZERBAIDZHAN, and it appears only to have been a warning.
Posted by Craig Crofoot on Nov. 30 2006,9:48
Here's a little bit on the LURLINE:

December 17:
Departed San Francisco as part of Convoy #2005  (3 ships) escorted by Task Force 15.6 (ST LOUIS, SMITH, PRESTON)

December 21:

Convoy #2005 arrived Pearl.

December 26:
Convoy #4032
Departed Pearl 1000 hours for San Francisco with same ships and escorts as #2005.



Posted by islandee on Dec. 10 2006,7:18
In 1965 in his book, 山本五十六 (Yamamoto Isoroku), Hiroyuki Agawa on page 230 discusses the Kido Butai meeting a vessel of a 'third power' on 06 Dec 1941. The passage is, I think, accurately rendered by John Bester in his English translation published in 1979 as "The Reluctant Admiral". The passage, on page 251, reads:

On December 6 the Nagumo force did catch sight of one passing vessel of a third nation. Those in command of the task force watched the progress of the ship in question, a merchantman, with an extraordinary degree of tension. Had it shown any signs of radioing a report on the movements of the task force to anyone else, it would probably have found itself at the bottom of the sea within a few minutes. The vessel, however, must have thought that the Nagumo force was a fleet engaged in exercises --- or possibly it made a correct guess as to its purpose and was too scared to signal its find --- for it soon disappeared from sight without anything happening.

I disregard here what I believe to be several major errors in logic regarding the recounting. I point out also that Agawa did not identify the vessel either with regard to nationality or name. Probably because of the barrier that the Japanese written language poses to outsiders, there doesn't seem to have been any awareness of the passage nor any reaction in 1965 in the Western world --- at least that I can find. Nor was there any awareness or reaction that I can find after the book's publication _in English_ in 1979 --- until a presentation by Robert Haslach in 1983, and then in print in Layton's "As I Was There" in 1985. Haslach and Layton speculated that the ship was Uritski (aka, Uritsky, Uritskii); Layton's coauthor, Costello, in 1994 in "Days of Infamy", acknowledged that naming Uritski was an error. In that same year, Parker revealed in "Pearl Harbor Revisited" a message from Tokyo to the Kido Butai warning of a possible meeting with the Soviet vessels, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. Most of the many books written about Pearl Harbor since then have assumed that one of those two vessels met the Kido Butai.

My interests are:

1. Was there any reaction _in Japan_ to Agawa's comments in 1965 --- and in the many subsequent editions that followed?
2. Has anyone _from the Kido Butai_ stepped forward to confirm his story?
3. Has anyone stepped forward to confirm his story?

My apologies if underlines come through: I don't understand how the command works in this webpage.

Powered by Ikonboard 3.1.3 © 2006 Ikonboard