The merchant ships of Japan usually contain the name ‘Maru’ meaning ‘Circle’
I’ve now written many articles on Truk Lagoon and its many World War II wrecks. The term Maru comes up more often than most other worlds, but what does Maru mean in Japanese ship names?
The word Maru means circle or round and is a traditional suffix attached to Japanese ship names. The first ship known to follow this practice was the Nippon Maru.
What does Maru mean in Japanese ship names?
Looking back at the history of Japanese ship naming convention, it appears that the very first ship to use the name ‘Maru‘ in its name was the ‘Nippon Maru‘.
This is not to be confused with the Nippo Maru, which was sunk in Truk Lagoon during Operation Hailstone during World War II, and sits with all the other Truk Lagoon wrecks there. The Nippon Maru was the flagship of Daimyō Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s 16th century fleet.
The meaning of the word ‘Maru‘ is ‘Circle‘, but the Japanese use the term in ship naming protocol to designate a merchant ship.
Most of the ships lying in Truk Lagoon that were sunk there during Operation Hailstone have names containing ‘Maru‘. This is because the Imperial Japanese Navy requisitioned hundreds of merchant ships during World War II. Mostly to transport supplies, troops, military vehicles and gunnery and ammunition.
In fact of all the ships that were sunk in Truk Lagoon, only three of them were actually purpose built Imperial Japanese (IJN) Navy ships. The rest were all requisitioned by the IJN and most use Maru in their names.
If you take a look at the Truk Lagoon wrecks map, you’ll see the number of wrecks that use Maru.’
Many ask what does ‘Maru’ mean in Spanish too, but the translation is also ‘Maru’ like it is in English.
I hope you enjoyed this article about what does Maru mean in Japanese ship names
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