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those IJN minesweepers again

June 18 2015 at 8:04 PM
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Nelson  (no login)

Response to Minesweepers and Destroyers


Much like the wartime experience of the fictional destroyer-minesweeper USS Caine, the IJN’s W class minesweepers, as Nuyt contends, spent rather more time performing other duties than in actual minesweeping. They were commonly assigned as close escorts for both merchant convoys and troop convoys. For example MineSweepDiv 1, before February 1942 consisting of W-1, W-2, W-3, and W-4, and during that month of all those warships plus W-5, escorted the troop transports of the IJA’s 2nd Infantry Division across the Java Sea to Banten (Bantam) Bay. During the night mêlée called the battle of Sunda Strait, W-2 became the victim of friendly fire, being hit by a Type 93 torpedo now thought to have been fired from heavy cruiser Mogami. Clearly, the escorts of MineSweepDiv 1 were closely intermingled with the troop transports.

Most histories show minesweeper W-5 as an additional part of MineSweepDiv 1 during February 1942 and (less W-2) a nominal member in March of the same year. Oddly, and perhaps significantly, she is not included in virtually all accounts, including that of Combined Fleet, as being present in Banten Bay during the hellish night of February 28-March 1, 1942. Her TROM has a fairly wide gap at this time. Perhaps just a careless omission, but IF absent, where was W-5? Should she be a candidate for the IJN warship committing the atrocity on the crew members who had abandoned tanker Augustina?

My feeling is still that the culprit was either a DD/modified DD detached and roaming for stragglers, or a DD/modified DD that had been damaged in earlier combat and was on the way back to the nearest port where adequate repairs could be effected. If the latter case, one can image the captain, fuming at the damage caused to his ship, in turn causing him to miss out on the later action, and being willing to exact revenge on the first adversaries who crossed his path.

So, Kevin, back to you: Did your candidates examined include (i) any of the older destroyers, such as the four Mutsuki class DDs in DesDiv 22, and (ii) minesweeper W-5, seemingly unaccounted for during the battle of Sunda Strait?


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  • Nelson, my answers to the questions you posed to me - KevinD on Jun 19, 2015, 10:12 AM
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