Italian auxiliary cruiser Ramb II

Name: Ramb II, later Calitea II
Builder: CRDA, Monfalcone
Launched: Banana boat, 1937
Commissioned: 1940
Reclassified: Auxiliary cruiser, 1940
Fate: Scuttled by her crew in Kobe harbor, 8 September 1943 later refloated by Japan, 1943
Name: Ikutagawa Maru
Acquired: 1943
Commissioned: 30 November 1943
In service: 3 October 1943
Struck: 5 February 1945
Fate: Sunk, 12 January 1945
General characteristics
Type: Auxiliary cruiser
Displacement: 3,667 long tons (3,726 t)
Length: 122 meters (on water line)
Beam: 14,6 meters
Propulsion: 2 diesels
Speed: 18.5 knots (21.3 mph; 34.3 km/h)
Complement: 120
  • 2 × 120 mm (4.7 in) guns
  • 8 × 13.2 mm (0.52 in) anti-aircraft guns
Service record
Part of: Red Sea Flotilla

The Italian auxiliary cruiser Ramb II was a banana boat built at Monfalcone by the Re-United Yards of the Adriatic (Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico, CRDA) in 1937.


Ramb II was the second of four sister ships all built to the same design. The other ships were the Ramb I, the Ramb III, and the Ramb IV. The four ships were built for the Royal Banana Monopoly Business (Regia Azienda Monopolio Banane) to transport refrigerated bananas from Somaliland and Eritrea in Italian East Africa. However, in the event of war, the design of Ramb II allowed it to be refitted as an "auxiliary cruiser" for commerce raiding. She was 3,667 tons displacement, oil powered, and capable of 18½ knots.

Following Italy's declaration of war on 10 June 1940, Ramb II became part of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina). She was armed with two 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns and eight 13.2-millimetre (0.52 in) anti-aircraft guns. The refitting work to convert the banana boat to an auxiliary cruiser was performed at the Eritrean port of Massawa. Ramb II was part of the Italian Navy's Red Sea Flotilla.

In February 1941, as the East African Campaign started to go badly for the Italians, Massawa, the home port for Ramb II became more endangered. Along with Eritrea and Ramb I, Ramb II slipped through a British blockade off Perim and sailed into the Indian Ocean on 20 February 1941. On 27 February 1941 Ramb I was intercepted and sunk by cruiser HMNZS Leander, but the other two sailed across the Indian Ocean and the Sunda Sea.

In Japan

On 23 March 1941, Ramb II reached Kobe, Japan. Upon reaching Japan, Ramb II was supposed to operate as a commerce raider in the Pacific Ocean. Even though allied with Italy, the authorities of then neutral Japan took a dim view of the idea of an Italian raider operating from neutral Japanese ports. The Japanese refused to comply with the Italian plans. Ramb II had her weapons removed on 24 March 1941. Her name was changed to Calitea II in May, 1941. She was chartered to the Imperial Japanese Navy as a stores ship 2 November 1942. When Italy declared an armistice in 1943, the Italian crew scuttled her at Kobe on 8 September to prevent the Japanese from taking control of the ship. The Japanese refloated the Calitea II, renamed her Ikutagawa Maru and pressed her into service. Her IJN callsign was JXBY.

Initially she was assigned as an auxiliary transport ship (victualler) in the Sasebo Naval District. In January 1944 she was reassigned to the Combined Fleet and attached to the Southwest Area Fleet as an auxiliary transport ship. She remained in Japanese service until 12 January 1945, when she was sunk by United States aircraft. [1]

See also


  1. "Ex-Italian Merchants in Japanese Service". Retrieved 3 April 2013.

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