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Op ten Noort


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OP TEN NOORT (August 30, 1945)

A 6,076 ton Dutch passenger liner based in Java and on regular service between Surabaya and Singapore. Converted to a hospital ship for the Dutch Navy at the outbreak of the war. In harbour at Surabaya during the Battle of the Java Sea, she was dispatched to look for survivors but was intercepted by two Japanese destroyers and ordered to turn back to Bandjarmasin in Borneo where she was boarded and apprehended. Ordered to take on board 970 Allied prisoners-of-war, including around 800 survivors from the British cruiser Exeter sunk in the Java Sea battle, she sailed for Makassar and there, for the next eight months served as a hospital facility for the POW camps in the area. Later, June 5, 1942, she sailed for Yokohama under the Japanese flag and a new name 'Tenno Maru' and extra funnel to hide the fact that she was a former Allied hospital ship. The remainder of the war she sailed between Singapore and Manila carrying looted gold and other treasures from the Japanese occupied countries. Just weeks before the war ended she arrived again in Yokohama loaded with 2,000 metric tons of gold but instead of off-loading her cargo she then sailed on to the Maisaru Naval Base where more gold and platinum bars, diamonds and other gems were put on board. (A metric ton of gold equals 26,400 ounces) Realizing the war was over it was decided to sink the ship and recover the treasure at a later date. Just days before the Japanese surrender the Op ten Noort was taken out into Maisaru Bay late at night by a group of high-ranking Japanese naval officers. The Japanese captain and twenty-four crewmen of the Op ten Noort were then shot dead to preserve the secret and the ship scuttled by placing explosive charges in the hull. When the wreck was found in 1990 the Japanese valued the treasure at thirty billion US dollars (Three trillion Japanese yen)

www.netherlandsnavy.nl/Noort.htm

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