CVE Kaiyo Escort Aircraft Carrier

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Escort carrier CVE Kaiyo of the Imperial Japanese Navy


Ocean liner Argentina Maru in summer 1939 before being converted into carrier for  the IJN.

Ocean liner Argentina Maru in summer 1939 before being converted into carrier for the IJN.

The Escort carrier Kaiyo (“Sea Hawk”) was operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy. However, this carrier was initially designed as civil ship, namely the Ocean Linear Argentina Maru, which was completed in 1939.

Name: MV Argentina Maru
Owner: Osaka Shosen Kaisha
Builder: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Shipyard,Nagasaki
Launched: 9 December 1938
Completed: 31 May 1939
Fate: Sold to the Imperial Japanese Navy, 9 December 1942


After the ship was acquired by the Imperial Japanese Navy on December 1942, she was re-built and modified to serve as escort carrier. missions. Her name was changed from Argentina Maru to Kaiyo (“Sea Hawk”). The small size of the vessel prevented her to participate in large scale attack operations, therefore, their mission was as aircraft ferry, escort carrier and training ship for navy pilots.

In fact, the Argentina Maru was also used as troop transport since December 1941 after the Pearl Harbor attack. However, the IJN bought the ship and initiated the conversion at Nagasaki on 10 December 1942. The works were completed on 23 November 1943, she was renamed Kaiyo. Her initial duties were to transport aircraft to Japanese overseas bases. Her first such task was to ferry aircraft for the 23rd Air Flotilla to Singapore via Manila in January 1944 as part of Convoy HI-33.


The escort carrier Kaiyo "Sea Hawk" at sea in 1943.

The escort carrier Kaiyo “Sea Hawk” at sea in 1943.


She performed these kind of missions the rest of the work. From March 1945, she was mainly moored at home ports or performing training missions on home waters. However, the proximity of US Task Forces had a severe impact of the safety of the vessels. She was bombed several times between March 1945 to the end of the War and when taking evasive actions she also collided with mines. After being damaged and under repairs, she had dense camouflage netting and foliage. In spite of that, on 9 August 1945, low-level air strikes led by B-25J Mitchells from 38th Bomb Group hit her several times. The remains of the ship were finally scrapped in place from 1 September 1946 and 30 January 1948 by Nissan Salvag.


Type: Escort carrier
  • 13,600 t (13,400 long tons) (standard)
  • 16,483 t (16,223 long tons) (loaded)
Length: 166.55 m (546 ft 5 in)
Beam: 21.9 m (71 ft 10 in)
Draft: 8.04 m (26 ft 5 in)
Installed power:
  • 52,000 shp (39,000 kW)
  • 4 × water-tube boilers
  • 2 × shafts
  • 2 × Kampon geared steam turbines
Speed: 23 kn (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Range: 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi)
Complement: 829
Sensors and
processing systems:
1 × Type 2, Mark 2, Model 1 air searchradar
  • 4 × twin 12.7 cm/40 Type 89 dual-purpose guns
  • 8 × triple 25 mm (0.98 in) AA guns
Aircraft carried: 24


In spite her small size and low impact in the Pacific War, she has been modeled by Fujimi at scale 1/700. There are two versions with waterline series and full hull. There are also some kits for PE parts for high detail.

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