A Close Call for Hikawa Maru

A Close Call for Hikawa Maru


Passengers on the Japanese ocean liner Hikawa Maru were happy to be safe and sound in Seattle on 22 September 1938.

On the morning of the previous day the NYK Line vessel, caught in a dense fog while inbound to Seattle, grounded on a shoal at West Point, Washington.

Hikawa Maru
Hikawa Maru as she is today, a museum ship in Yokohama.

In rounding West Point to enter Seattle harbor, the bells of another vessel were heard aboard Hikawa Maru. The liner’s engines were stopped, and she was not under way when a tide rip carried onto the shoal. Hikawa Maru’s forefoot grounded in sand while the rest of the ship remained afloat. She was freed without damage six hours later by the tugs Neptune and Active.

Today, you can visit Hikawa Maru in Yokohama at the NYK Maritime Museum. During her service life, the liner crossed the Pacific 254 times, carrying approximately 25,000 passengers. During and immediately following World War II, the vessel served as a hospital ship and returned some 30,000 wounded soldiers to the Japanese homeland.

In the 1930s, Hikawa Maru hosted many celebrities, such as Charlie Chaplin and Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo (who actually died on board the liner).

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