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Topic: Japanese ships in the marshalls< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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GeorgeP Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 24 2004,12:19  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The topic of Japanese ships in the Marshalls came up in a WW2 discussion group I'm in.

One member quoted an official document (Action Report for Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, including other commands, and ships at Pearl Harbor) regarding the sighting of Japanese carriers in the Marshalls on 25 November, 1941.  Here is his what he posted, a quote from the Action Report:

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The only other reconnaissance instrumentality available was that being operated by the Navy.  It was functioning officially in the latter part of 1941 and was constantly supplying information of the greatest value to important naval commanders, a part of which information was communicated to General Short by Admiral Kimmel.  (R. 1771-1772)  The one notable and tragic exception was the failure to advise General Short that on or about November 25 Japanese task force was discovered in the Marshall Islands, in which force there were reported as present two or three carriers, 15 to 20 submarines, and possibly other vessels.  (R. 361)  About the first of December radio contact was lost with this force as it apparently went into radio silence, which was known to be by the Navy the third and last and most dangerous phase of the movement of the enemy fleet.  (R. 1654-1655, 1662)


This sounds wrong to me, since the Pearl Harbor attack force was still in Hittokappu Bay, and from what I've read, all of the other Japanese carriers were committed to supporting the Japanese drive south and were probably staging around Kure, Japan.

My question is...assuming the Americans did discover ships in the Marshalls, what would those ships have been?

Thanks for any help you can give!  This board is much appreciated, and has been very informative for me already.

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 24 2004,12:42 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

That's taken from this page of the Report of Army Pearl Harbor Board.

He can quote what he wants, the TROMs (Tabular Record of Movement) posted at combinedfleet.com seem to indicate otherwise. Your question of what ships these would have been; well there were eight active carriers; six in the Kido Butai which we know was nowhere near the Marshalls (also known as the mandates). Hosho and Ryujo were the only two not participating.

That Army report is a bit vague and confusing; they refer to a Navy surveillance system but don't say what it is. Given the time frame the report was released in I'm not too surprised, but it doesn't help us determine where to look further. If they're talking about Radio Direction Finding then there's a problem; RDF was used far before 1940. I've seen the logs and have actually been researching this for the last couple of months at Seattle NARA when I can. I'm still trying to determine what information was sent out and with what frequency, but I do know there were at least monthly reports sent to the 14th Naval District via  the 13th Naval District (which owned most of the stations of the RDF net). This doesn't mean these reports were sent in a completely timely manner; the report for November from Station S (Bainbridge Island) wasn't written until the 3rd of December, and after that it had to be mailed to Seattle (HQ of the 13th Naval District), processed, and copies sent out to the other commands.

Looking over the logs I have transcribed so far, the December log for Station AE at NAS Sitka, Alaska only talks about Japanese merchant vessels in the mandates, but that's not too surprising as they were primarily assigned work on the Japanese Merchant marine and only worked Japanese Navy vessels during slack times. The November Report for Dutch Harbor Alaska refers to a station HO MI 3 that controls a listing  of 18 other call signs that are noted, "all assumed to be part of the mandate fleet." but at this point I don't know which ships these are or even when the data for this was collected.

I'm still transcribing these reports; once they're finished I'll be posting links to all of them here.

Edited by Tracy White on --

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 24 2004,7:45 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the reply, Tracy.  I use the combinedfleet.com site.  That's why I doubted the presence of carriers in the Marshals.  Somebody else suggested the possibility of seaplane tenders.  That raised the question "Are seaplane tenders different from seaplane carriers?" because combinedfleet.com ruled out the possibility of the seaplane carriers being there.

I was looking through Morison's The Two-Ocean War this afternoon. He says the Advance Expiditionary Force of twenty-seven submarines left Kure and Yokosuka around 19 Nov and refueled at Kwajelein.  Could these submarines and their tenders be the ships referred to in the 25 Nov report?  I looked at Japanese Submarine TROMs at combinedfleet.com, and found entries for subs leaving Kure and Yokosuka from the 16th to the 21st and bound for Hawaii, but the next entries for them are receiving the "Niitakayama nobore (Climb Mt. Niitaka) 1208" message on 2 December.  I never found a reference to refueling at Kwajelein.

Edited by GeorgeP on --

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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 25 2004,4:07 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm not a "japanese guy" so I'm not sure if the IJN had separate tenders and carriers; but I would presume so. In the US Navy tenders could be purpose-built or converted destroyers.

The advanced force that refueled at Kwaj might be part or all of what was seen, but unless we can find out what report the Army report of findings is referring to we probably won't know. The station generating the report, the type of intelligence it was, etc would be helpful. Until then it's veracity is suspect to me.

You might try contacting Ken Hackler as he's got a better understanding of IJN subs than I.

Edited by Tracy White on --

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