M.V. Corabank – Tanker!

MV Corabank later Rikko Maru1932 – 1945

A view of the Rikko Maru, formerly Corabank.

The MV Corabank was laid down at Workman, Clark Ltd (1928), Belfast, Northern Ireland at the end of 1931 as yard number 516, a 9,181 ton tanker for Andrew Weir Shipping & Trading Co. Ltd, (Bank Line) of Glasgow & London, their first motor tanker. It was launched during 1932 and completed during August 1932.

The Corabank’s maiden (?) voyage took her to the Far East, being noted on October 12th 1932 near Penang, then October 14th 1932 near Singapore.

Noted in King’s Dock (floating) drydock Keppel Harbour November 30th 1935,

December 1st/2nd 1935 at Keppel Harbour.

February 3rd 1936 due Singapore.

April 21st 1936 cleared Singapore for Kudat, Borneo.

Noted in King’s Dock (floating) drydock Keppel Harbour July 15th 1936, departed Singapore on July 19th 1936,

During October 1937 the Corabank was sold to Nippon Sekiyu K.K., Tokyo (Japan Oil Co. Ltd) for the reportedly high price of £220,000 and renamed Rikko Maru. 

The Rikko Maru was requisitioned during 1941 by the Japanese Government’s Senpaku Uneikai civilian wartime shipping authority. It was alloted to the Imperial Japanese Army and chartered with a civilian crew. 

The Rikko Maru would spend much of 1943 sailing the East China & South China Seas, between Mutsure, Japan and Singapore, visiting such ports as Mako, Cap St Jacques (Vung Tau), Takao (Kaohsiung), Kirun (Keelung) & Moji. 

During 1944 the Rikko Maru followed similar routes to that of 1943 but included several roundtrips between Manila & Takao. Other ports visited included Miri. On May 13th 1944 the Rikko Maru sailed with about 25 other ships as convoy MOTA 19 with several escorts to Manila carrying men and supplies to establish air defence and early warning capabilities. The Rikko Maru was back at Takao by by May 20th 1944, departing three days later as part of convoy TAMA 19 headed for Manila, transporting similar cargo and men as were carried in convoy MOTA 19. On June 13th 1944 convoy SHIMA 01 departed Singapore for Manila presumably including the Rikko Maru. On June 24th 1944 convoy MATA 23 with fifteen ships including the Rikko Maru departed Manila for Kirun. On June 25th, 26th & 27th the convoy came under attack by submarine & aircraft. Three ships were lost in the attacks, with the Rikko Maru sustaining minor damage from an early morning air attack on 28th.

On August 19th 1944 the Rikko Maru sailed from Moji in convoy MI 15 for Takao, arriving on August 25th 1944, then departing on 30th for Manila. The Rikko Maru, in ballast, carried 506 men of the 3rd Aviation Army, 5th Aviation Communication Unit and others. Whilst passing through the Luzon Strait early on the morning of August 31st, the Queenfish (SS-393) sank the Chiyoda Maru and damaged the Rikku Maru. Whilst in the Bashi Strait more submarines appeared, the Sealion (SS-315), Growler (SS-215) and Pampanito. Before dawn the Growler made a surface attack on what was believed to be the Rikku Maru. Three torpedoes hit at position 21-30N, 121-19E killing 125 passengers and crew and leaving the tanker covered in smoke with a twenty foot hole amidships. Counter flooding stabilised the ship, with the engine-room not affected by the damage. The convoy continued to come under attack, but the Rikku Maru remained afloat and eventually reached Takao on the early evening of September 1st 1944, entering the dry dock, where overnight, the seriousness of the damage was revealed. Temporary repairs would take over three months. Air raids on October 10th-12th 1944 caused no damage to the ship, but since more urgent work was waiting the Rikko Maru was patched up and sailed for Keelung. The 150 mile trip was completed at night under full speed with the ship gradually sinking. Just before dawn the ship was run aground outside of Keelung. Carrier based aircraft from Task Force 38 further damaged the ship whilst on the early morning of March 6th 1945 a typhoon broke the ship in two and sank at 25-09N, 121-44E. 


Built: Workman Clark Ltd (1928), Belfast Yard No.516
Launched: 1932
Tons: 8,898 gross, 13,710 deadweight
Length: 470ft 
Breadth: 63ft 6in
Draught: 35ft 4in
Propulsion: 1 x 8-cylinder 8S68 Workman Clark-Sulzer diesel engine 3,600bhp at 90rpm.
Screws: 1
Speed: 11.5 knots
Crew: ??

National Library of Australia : Trove website of archived Australian Newspapers (trove.nla.gov.au)
NewspaperSG – Singapore pages newspaper archive.
Thunder Below: by Eugene B Fluckey,
Sulzer: List of Motorships

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