|Ship Class||Taiyo-class Escort Carrier|
|Builder Name||Kure Naval Arsenal|
|Laid Down||9 May 1938|
|Launched||20 May 1939|
|Commissioned||25 Nov 1942|
|Sunk||4 Dec 1943|
|Displacement||17,830 tons standard; 19,500 tons full|
|Machinery||4 Kampon water-tube boilers, 2 Kampon geared steam turbines, 2 shafts, 1 rudder|
|Power Output||25,200 SHP|
|Range||6,500nm at 18 knots|
|Armament||4x2x127mm L/40 Type 89 AA guns, 22x25mm L/60 Type 96 AA guns, 5x13.2mm L/76 Type 93 AA machine guns|
|Armor||25mm side belt over machinery spaces and magazines|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseOriginally built as the Nippon Yusen Kaisha passenger liner Nitta Maru, she was designed to rival European luxury liners that carried passengers from Europe to the Far East. Her passenger capacity was 283. Her first and second class passenger cabins had air conditioning. To top it all off, she featured common spaces such as bridge rooms, smoking rooms, swimming pool, etc., all specially designed by expert engineers and interior decorators. She was never fully used as intended, however. When she was completed, Europe had already been engulfed in war, and the only alternate route suitable for a luxury liner, the United States, was also limited due to rising political tensions. Because her construction was partially subsidized by the Japanese government, when the Japanese Navy needed military transports, she was among the first to be drafted in Feb 1941. As a military transport, one of her missions included the transfer of American prisoners of war from Wake Island to Japan. After Japan loss four fleet carriers at the Battle of Midway, it was decided that Nitta Maru, along with her two sister ships, were to be converted into escort carriers. She entered the drydocks at Kure, Japan on 10 Aug 1942 with Captain Okura Tomasaborou assigned as the fitting-out officer. The conversion completed on 25 Nov 1942, on which date she was renamed Chuyo. Tomasaborou remained onboard as the commanding officer. Because she was the last of the three sister ships to be converted, additional war time experience demanded her to carry heavier anti-aircraft armaments than the other two ships. Her initial armament consisted of four dual 127-mm L/40 Type 90 and four dual 25-mm L/60 Type 96 anti-aircraft guns. She also carried three more aircraft than the other two ships. She had no island, no capapult, nor arresting gear, reflecting her intended role in flight training and aircraft ferrying.
ww2dbaseOn 12 Dec 1942, Chuyo departed Yokosuka, Japan for Truk, the first of thirteen voyages ferrying aircraft, supplies, and passengers to the Caroline Islands. On 24 Sep 1943, her task force was attacked by American submarine Cabrilla, which damaged sister ship Taiyo with a torpedo; Chuyo took her in tow and brought her back to Yokosuka two days later.
ww2dbaseOn 30 Nov 1943, Chuyo departed Truk for Yokosuka after successfully delivering aircraft. She sailed in a sizable task force consisted of sister ship Unyo, cruiser Maya, and several destroyers. Among the cargo aboard Chuyo were 21 American prisoners of war taken from submarine Sculpin, which was sunk 11 days prior by destroyer Yamagumo. En route, at 0010 on 4 Dec 1943, she was targeted by American submarine Sailfish. The torpedo struck her at the bow, collapsing the forward part of the flight deck, but she avoided major fire. At 0555, Sailfish returned for a second strike, this time hitting her with two torpedoes, both hit her at the port engine room. Dead in the water, cruiser Maya, destroyer Urakaze, and land-based aircraft (after dawn) from Japan attempted to guard Chuyo as her crew raced to get her moving. At 0942, Sailfish returned for a third strike. One or two torpedoes struck her port side. She took in water at a very fast rate, sinking her by 0948. Captain Tomasaborou, 513 officers and men, and 737 passengers perished, including 20 of 21 American POWs aboard; only 160 survived.
ww2dbaseChuyo was the first of four escort carriers sunk by American submarines in the Pacific War.
ww2dbaseSources: Imperial Japanese Navy Page, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Oct 2007
Chuyo Operational Timeline
|25 Nov 1942||Chuyo was commissioned into service.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939