Originally named Volochaevets, Soya was ordered by the Soviet Union from Japan's Matsuo shipyard in 1936. She was to serve as one of three ice-strengthened cargo ships. The ship was requisitioned by the Imperial Japanese navy in November 1939, given her current name, and sent into the battles of Midway, Santa Cruz, Leyte Gulf, and the Philippine Sea. Japan also enlisted Soya for Guadalcanal troop runs and naval battles around the island. The only member of her class to survive WWII, she later became a repatriation ship and a lighthouse supply vessel â acquiring the nickname "Santa Claus of the Sea". In 1956 Soya was overhauled to become the first Japanese ship to take part in Antarctic research, and continued making such trips until 1962. She then became an ice breaking rescue ship for the Maritime Safety Agency, based in Hokkaido.
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