Landing craft carrier

Landing craft carriers or landing craft depot ships were an innovative type of amphibious warfare ship developed by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. The prototype was developed in secrecy under the pseudonyms Ryujo Maru and Fuso Maru[1] using features later adopted by other navies for dock landing ships and amphibious transport docks. Additional ships were built after combat experience validated the concept, but most were completed after the Japanese invasions of the early war, and used primarily as troopships during later operations. Today's amphibious assault ships bear a strong similarity to this concept.

Prototype Shinshū Maru
Hei-type Akitsu Maru


Shinshū Maru was completed in 1935 and modified in 1936 to include a floodable well dock. She was the world's first ship specifically designed to carry and launch landing craft.[1] She introduced stern and side gates to launch landing craft for the 2,200 soldiers she carried. She demonstrated the advantages of the concept at the invasions of Shanghai, Malaya and Java.[2]


Hei-type landing craft carriers included a flight deck with a capacity for 28 aircraft, but no hangar deck, since the deck beneath the flight deck was used to carry 25 landing craft launched through stern doors.[3] Akisu Maru was completed in time to participate in the invasion of Java; but she and the other Hei-types were thereafter used primarily as ferries to transport short-range aircraft to distant bases. The first two were completed from 11,800-ton, 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h) Nippon Kaiun, K. K. passenger ships under construction by Harima Shipbuilding. They operated two Kayaba Ka-1 autogyros.[2] Both were sunk by submarines in 1944.[1]

The others were based on Hitachi Shipbuilding Corporation's standard 8,000-ton, 19 knots (22 mph; 35 km/h) Type-M cargo steam ship modified (Type-MB)[1] to carry twelve Toku-Daihatsu class landing craft launched through stern doors[2] with funnels installed horizontally on the starboard side to accommodate a flight deck.[1]

  • Kumano Maru was completed in March 1945[3] and survived for use as a repatriation ship.[1]
  • Tokitsu Maru was incomplete when World War II ended.[3] She was completed as a whaling ship in 1946 and sank in the Antarctic in 1953.[2]


The larger type were 11,910-ton, 20.8 knots (23.9 mph; 38.5 km/h) diesel-engined ships fitted with stern ramp gates for launching twenty Daihatsu class landing craft stored in floodable holds. At the time, this launching method was unprecedented. Both were sunk by submarines with very heavy loss of life.[2]

Later production was Hitachi's standard Type-M steam ship modified (Type-MA) to carry twelve Toku-Daihatsu class landing craft.[2] The landing craft were launched from rails which ran along the main deck (between port and starboard funnels for those carried forward of the superstructure) down to the waterline through large hinged doors at the stern. Settsu Maru survived for use as a repatriation ship, but her sister-ships were sunk in air raids on Japanese ports.[1]

  • Kibitsu Maru was completed in December 1943.[3]
  • Hyuga Maru was completed in November 1944.[3]
  • Settsu Maru was completed as a 12 knots (14 mph; 22 km/h) coal-burner[1] in January 1945.[3]


Takatsu Maru was a 5,656-ton, 19-knot steam ship[2] completed in January 1944 with icebreaker capability,[3] and used conventional cranes rather than gates for handling nine Toku-Daihatsu class landing craft.[2] She was sunk by United States aircraft in Ormoc Bay during the invasion of the Philippines.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Watts, Anthony J. (1967). Japanese Warships of World War II. New York: Doubleday & Company. pp. 307–311.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hackett, Bob; Cundall, Peter (2012). "IJA Landing Craft Depot Ships". Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Landing Craft Carrier Model Ko, Otsu, Hei". Taki. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
Amenities ship

An amenities ship is a ship outfitted with recreational facilities as part of a mobile naval base. Amenities ships included movie theaters and canteens staffed by mercantile crews of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service. These ships were intended to provide a place where British Pacific Fleet personnel could relax between operations.

Ammunition ship

An ammunition ship is an auxiliary ship specially configured to carry ammunition, usually for naval ships and aircraft. An ammunition ship′s cargo handling systems, designed with extreme safety in mind, include ammunition hoists with airlocks between decks, and mechanisms for flooding entire compartments with sea water in case of emergencies. Ammunition ships most often deliver their cargo to other ships using underway replenishment, using both connected replenishment and vertical replenishment. To a lesser extent, they transport ammunition from one shore-based weapons station to another.

Coastal minesweeper

Coastal minesweeper is a term used by the United States Navy to indicate a minesweeper intended for coastal use as opposed to participating in fleet operations at sea.

Because of its small size—usually less than 100 feet in length—and construction—wood as opposed to steel—and slow speed—usually about 9 or 10 knots—the coastal minesweeper was considered too fragile and slow to operate on the high seas with the fleet.

Minesweeping, in conjunction with fleet activities, was usually relegated to the diesel-driven steel-hulled AM-type minesweepers, later to be replaced by the wood-hulled MSO-type minesweeper with aluminum engines.

Coastal submarine

A coastal submarine or littoral submarine is a small, maneuverable submarine with shallow draft well suited to navigation of coastal channels and harbors. Although size is not precisely defined, coastal submarines are larger than midget submarines, but smaller than sea-going submarines designed for longer patrols on the open ocean. Space limitations aboard coastal submarines restrict fuel availability for distant travel, food availability for extended patrol duration, and number of weapons carried. Within those limitations, however, coastal submarines may be able to reach areas inaccessible to larger submarines, and be more difficult to detect.

Combat stores ship

Combat stores ships, or storeships, were originally a designation given to ships in the Age of Sail and immediately afterward that navies used to stow supplies and other goods for naval purposes. Today, the United States Navy and the Royal Navy operate modern combat store ships. The Sirius and Mars classes (for the US) and the Fort Rosalie and Fort Victoria classes (for the UK) provide supplies, including frozen, chilled and dry provisions, and propulsion and aviation fuel to combatant ships that are at sea for extended periods of time. Storeships should not be confused with fast combat support ships or tenders.

Depot ship

A depot ship is an auxiliary ship used as a mobile or fixed base for submarines, destroyers, minesweepers, fast attack craft, landing craft, or other small ships with similarly limited space for maintenance equipment and crew dining, berthing and relaxation. Depot ships may be identified as tenders in American English. Depot ships may be specifically designed for their purpose or be converted from another purpose.

Destroyer tender

A destroyer tender, or destroyer depot ship in British English, is an auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships. The use of this class has faded from its peak in the first half of the 20th century as the roles of small combatants have evolved (in conjunction with technological advances in propulsion reliability and efficiency).

General stores issue ship

General stores issue ship is a type of ship used by the United States Navy during World War II and for some time afterwards.

The task of the general stores issue ship was to sail into non-combat, or rear, areas and disburse general stores, such as canned goods, toilet paper, office supplies, etc., to ships and stations.

Guard ship

A guard ship is a warship assigned as a stationary guard in a port or harbour, as opposed to a coastal patrol boat which serves its protective role at sea.

Imperial Japanese Army Railways and Shipping Section

The Imperial Japanese Army Railway and Shipping Section was the logistics unit of the Imperial Japanese Army charged with shipping personnel, material and equipment from metropolitan Japan to the combat front overseas.

Japanese aircraft carrier Kumano Maru

Kumano Maru (熊野丸) was a landing craft carrier with a small flight deck built for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Launched and completed in early 1945, the ship saw no significant action.

Japanese amphibious assault ship Shinshū Maru

Shinshū Maru (神州丸 or 神洲丸) was a ship of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. She was the world's first landing craft carrier ship to be designed as such, and a pioneer of modern-day amphibious assault ships. During some of her operations, she was known to have used at least four cover names, R1,GL,MT, and Ryujo Maru.

The Shinshū Maru was one of the ships sunk by friendly torpedo fire at the Battle of Sunda Strait, but later salvaged and returned to service.

Light aircraft carrier

A light aircraft carrier, or light fleet carrier, is an aircraft carrier that is smaller than the standard carriers of a navy. The precise definition of the type varies by country; light carriers typically have a complement of aircraft only one-half to two-thirds the size of a full-sized fleet carrier. A light carrier was similar in concept to an escort carrier in most respects, however light carriers were intended for higher speeds to be deployed alongside fleet carriers, while escort carriers usually defended convoys and provided air support during amphibious operations.

Mine countermeasures vessel

A mine countermeasures vessel or MCMV is a type of naval ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. The term MCMV is also applied collectively to minehunters and minesweepers.


A minehunter is a naval vessel that seeks, detects, and destroys individual naval mines. Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines. A vessel that combines both of these roles is known as a mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV).

Net laying ship

A net laying ship, also known as a net layer, net tender, gate ship or boom defence vessel was a type of small auxiliary ship.

A net layer's primary function was to lay and maintain steel anti-torpedo or anti-submarine nets. Nets could be laid around an individual ship at anchor, or around harbors or other anchorages. Net laying was potentially dangerous work, and net laying seamen were experts at dealing with blocks, tackles, knots and splicing. As World War II progressed, net layers were pressed into a variety of additional roles including salvage, troop and cargo transport, buoy maintenance, and service as tugboats.

Ocean boarding vessel

Ocean boarding vessels (OBVs) were merchant ships taken over by the Royal Navy for the purpose of enforcing wartime blockades by intercepting and boarding foreign vessels.

Repair ship

A repair ship is a naval auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to warships. Repair ships provide similar services to destroyer, submarine and seaplane tenders or depot ships, but may offer a broader range of repair capability including equipment and personnel for repair of more significant machinery failures or battle damage.

Submarine tender

A submarine tender is a type of depot ship that supplies and supports submarines.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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