A Japanese Language Officer who received his Japanese Language training in Japan from 1934-1938, LCDR Francis Dixon Jordan, USN, was serving as the executive officer of USS Luzon (PG 47) until ship was scuttled in Manila Bay on May 6, 1942, shortly before Corregidor was surrendered.  

Following the ship’s scuttle, Jordan, was captured by the Japanese  and was held as a Prisoner of War (POW) on the Japanese “Hell Ship,” Arisan Maru.  While in captivity, he was killed on October 24, 1944 when an American submarine, probably the USS Shark (SS 314), sank the Arisan Maru.

On October 21, Arisan Maru (A) departed Manila for the final time, joining convoy MATA-30 heading for Takao. The convoy was composed of 13 merchant vessels, three destroyers as escorts and one fleet supply ship. Arisan Maru was one of the slowest ships in the convoy, capable of making no more than 7 knots (8.1 mph). On October 23, the destroyers began picking up signals from American submarines. Roughly 200 nautical miles (230 mi) west of Cape Bojeador, Luzon, the convoy was ordered to break up due to the sheer number and to sail at fastest possible speed for Takao (modern day Kaohsiung Taiwan) due to the American submarine threat.

On October 24, 1944, Arisan Maru, by then traveling alone, was hit by a torpedo from USS Shark, at about 5 p.m. in the No.3 hold. The ship buckled amidships, the engines stopped and the aft mast fell, but the freighter stayed afloat. She finally sank around 7:40 p.m in the Bashi Straits between Formosa and Luzon, South China Sea. 

In response to the torpedo attack, the destroyers Take and Harukaze attacked and sank Shark. After engaging the American submarine, the two destroyers returned to Arisan Maru to look for recover only Japanese survivors.  No POWs were killed by the torpedo strikes and nearly all were able to leave the ship’s holds. Only nine of the 1,773 prisoners aboard survived the event. Five escaped and made their way to China in one of the ship’s two lifeboats. They were reunited with U.S. Forces and returned to the United States. The four others were later recaptured by Imperial Japanese naval vessels, where one died shortly after reaching land.

Each POW was given eight five-gallon oil cans for their waste, which quickly overflowed due to a number of men afflicted by dysentery. The POWs suffered through unsanitary conditions, extreme heat within the hold (120 °F) and a lack of water.

(A) 6,886 ton Type 2A freighter constructed in 1944 during World War II and was one of Imperial Japan’s hell ships. The vessel, named for a mountain on Formosa, was initially used as a troop transport. The vessel was turned over for use for the transportation of POWs from the Philippines to Manchuria, China or Japan.

Source: The Last Voyage of the Arisan Maru