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 WORLD WAR 1 at SEA

IMPERIAL JAPANESE NAVY

by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

Pre-dreadnought HIJMS Aki  
 

 

 

Photographs are Courtesy of
Maritime Quest 
(click for enlargements)

 


Contents

Naval War in Outline

Japanese Navy ship names

Warship numbers & losses, 1914-18

 Losses by year

Key to main characteristics including Japanese torpedo and gun calibres

links to

Dreadnoughts

Battlecruisers

2nd class Battlecruisers

Pre-dreadnought battleships

Coast defence ships

Armoured cruisers

Protected cruisers

Light cruisers

Seaplane carrier

Destroyers

Submarines

 


 

 

see also

 

 

Austro-Hungarian Navy

French Navy

Hellenic or Greek Navy

Turkish or Ottoman Navy

United States Navy

 

 

     

NAVAL WAR IN OUTLINE

 

Britain, by signing a mutual defence treaty with Japan in 1902 gave Japan main responsibility for Far Eastern waters. Japan then declared war on the 23rd August 1914, partly with the aim of capturing the German base of Tsingtao on mainland China and occupying the German Marshall and Caroline Island groups in the Western Pacific. Tsingtao was besieged and taken on the 7th November 1914 by a largely Japanese naval and land force with a token Western Allied presence.

By then, the German island groups had been occupied by ships of the First Fleet. Japanese warships of the Third Fleet also helped escort ANZAC troopships across the Indian Ocean and others took part in the hunt for German light cruiser 'Emden' in the East Indies and Indian Ocean, and for Adm von Spee’s East Asiatic Squadron in the Pacific Ocean - the latter leading to the Battle of Coronel and ending with the Battle of the Falklands. Until 1917, the Navy stayed in the Far East, for example helping British forces to put down a mutiny in Singapore in February 1915. Then from April 1917, an eventual total of 14 destroyers with cruiser flagships were based at Malta playing an important and efficient part in anti-submarine convoy escort.

Most Japanese wartime losses apart from the Tsingtau operation, were due to accidents, but in the Mediterranean, one destroyer was torpedoed and badly damaged.

After the war, Japan joined the Allies in Far East operations against the Bolsheviks.

 
 

Japanese Navy Ship Names

 

Capital ships - ancient provinces; Large cruisers - mountains; Small cruisers - rivers; Destroyers (1st class) - meteorological names in poetical style; Destroyers (2nd class) - trees, flowers, fruits; Minelayers - islands, straits

 
 

WARSHIP NUMBERS and LOSSES - 1914-18

 
Type

August 1914 Strength

Wartime additions*

1914-18 losses

Dreadnoughts

2

4

1

Battlecruisers

1

3

-

2nd class Battlecruisers

4

-

1

Pre-dreadnought battleships

10

-

-

Coast defence ships

4

-

-

Armoured cruisers

8

-

-

Protected cruisers

15

-

2

Light cruisers

6

-

-

Aircraft and seaplane carriers

1

-

-

Destroyers

50

c 27

1

Submarines

12

3

-

TOTALS

113

37

5

 

* Approximate only, as completion and commissioning dates are not always available

 
 

LOSSES BY YEAR - (In date order within each year)

 
Year - Ships lost (all in Far East Asia waters)
1914 - destroyer 'Shirotaye', protected cruiser 'Takachio'
1915 -
1916 - protected cruiser 'Kasagi'
1917 - 2nd class battlecruiser 'Tsukuba', protected cruiser 'Otowa'
1918 - dreadnought 'Kawachi'
 
 

Key to Main Characteristics:

 

Tonnage - standard displacement; Speed - designed speed at standard displacement, rarely attained in service; Main armament - sometimes changed as the war progressed; secondary armament usually changed; Complement - normal peace time. Exceeded in war with consequent reduction in living space and higher battle casualties; Year - year or years class completed and normally entered service. Only includes ships completed up to war's end; Loss Positions - estimated from location unless available from reliable sources; Casualties - totals of men lost, or survivors plus saved, will often exceed peacetime complements.

 

Japanese torpedo and gun calibres in inches:

Torpedoes: 53.3cm - 21in; 45.7cm -18in

Guns: 35.6cm - 14in; 32cm - 12.6in; 30.5cm - 12in; 26.2cm - 10.3in; 25.4cm - 10in; 20.3cm - 8in; 15.2cm - 6in; 14 cm - 5.5in; 12cm - 4.7in; 10.2cm - 4in; 7.8cm - 3.1in

 
 

 
 

DREADNOUGHTS


HIJMS Ise

August 1914 Strength (2)

1. SETTSU class, KAWACHI, SETTSU, 2 ships, 1 lost - 21,400t, 20 knots, 4-30.5cm/50 and 8-30.5cm/45 (different barrel lengths)/10-15.2cm/8-12cm, 990 crew, 1912

KAWACHI (ancient province), 12th July 1918, Japan, Tokuyama Bay, southern Honshu in Inland Sea (c 34-00’N, 131-45’E) - magazine explosion. 'Kawachi' sank in 4 minutes with the loss of over 500 men killed; 25 officers and 312 ratings were saved. She was later broken up

Wartime Additions (4)

2. FUSO class, FUSO, YAMASHIRO (both lost in World War 2) - 30,600t, 22 knots, 12-35.6cm/16-15.2cm, 1,190 crew, 1915/1917

3. ISE class, HYUGA, ISE (both lost in World War 2) - 31,300t, 23 knots, 12-35.6cm/20-14cm, 1,360 crew, 1917/1918

 

BATTLECRUISERS


HIJMS Haruna on her trials

August 1914 Strength (1)

4. KONGO class, KONGO, 1 of 4 ships completed before start of war (lost in World War 2) - 27,500t, 27 knots, 8-35.6cm/15-15.2cm, 1,220 crew, 1913

Wartime Additions (3)

4. KONGO class completed 1914-15, HARUNA, HIEI, KIRISHIMA (all lost in World War 2)

Haruna, according to two sources, was damaged in the South Pacific on a mine laid by German raider 'Wolf'. Mines were laid by the raider in mid-1917 off New Zealand, the east coast of Australia, and Singapore, but this incident needs confirmation

 

2nd Class BATTLECRUISERS

 

August 1914 Strength (4)

5. TSUKUBA class, IKOMA, TSUKUBA, 2 ships, 1 lost - 13,700t, 20 knots, 4-30.5cm/12-15.2cm/12-12cm, 880 crew, 1907/08

Tsukuba, battlecruiser 'Kurama' and armoured cruiser 'Asama' of First South Sea Squadron searched the Carolines, Marshalls and Western Pacific north of the equator for Adm von Spee’s Fleet, September - November 1914. After the Anglo-German Battle of Coronel, she prepared to move to the South Central Pacific where sister ship 'Ikoma' was to join the Squadron

TSUKUBA (ancient province in Tokyo area), 14th January 1917, Japan off Yokosuka in Tokyo Bay (c 35-00’N, 139-30’E) - magazine explosion. The fore magazine exploded killing 200 men and setting 'Tsukuba' on fire as she was at anchor in the Bay. She sank 20 minutes later in shallow waters close inshore with masts, bridge and funnels above water, the explosion due to propellant decomposition. Fortunately half of the crew was on shore leave, but casualties still included 305 men lost. 'Tsukuba' was later raised and broken up.

 

6. IBUKI class, IBUKI, KURAMA, 2 ships - 14,600t, 20.5 knots, 4-30.3cm/8-20.3cm/14-12cm, 840 crew, 1909/11

Ibuki joined the hunt for 'Emden' in the East Indies in September 1914, in October took part in the escort of New Zealand troops to Australia, and early next month, because of the shortage of British ships helped escort the combined ANZAC convoy across the Indian Ocean. After 'Sydney' had been detached and sank 'Emden', the 'Ibuki' was for a while the only protection for the ANZACs. She later joined the Second South Sea Squadron in the SW Pacific to hunt for von Spee

Kurama, battlecruiser 'Tsukuba' and armoured cruiser 'Asama' of First South Sea Squadron searched the Carolines, Marshalls and Western Pacific north of the equator for Adm von Spee’s Fleet, September - November 1914, and after the Battle of Coronel, prepared to move to the South Central Pacific

 

PRE-DREADNOUGHT BATTLESHIPS


HIJMS Katori

August 1914 Strength (10)

7. KASHIMA class, KASHIMA, KATORI, 2 ships - 16,400t, 18 knots, 4-30.5cm/4-25.4cm/12-15.2cm, 860 crew, 1906

8. SATSUMA class, AKI, SATSUMA, 2 ships - 19,400t, 18 knots, 4-30.5cm/12-25.4cm/12-12cm, 900 crew, 1910/1911

Satsuma with light cruisers 'Hirado' and 'Yahagi' sailed as the Second South Sea Squadron to search the Philippines, Palau Islands and East Indies area, October-November 1914 in the von Spee hunt, and after Coronel moved towards the South Central Pacific.

9. Russo-Japanese 1904-05 War prizes, HIZEN, IKI, IWAMI, SAGAMI, SUWO, TANGO, 5 ships

Sagami (13,500t, 4-25.4cm) returned as 'Perseviet' to Russia in 1916

Hizen (12,700t, 30.5cm guns) joined armoured cruiser 'Idzumo' in 1914 in North American waters on trade protection, and after the Battle of Coronel moved down the the west coast of the Americas in the hunt for von Spee.

Tango (11,000t) returned as 'Poltava' to Russia in 1916

 

COAST DEFENCE SHIPS (ex-battleships)


HIJMS Mikasa

August 1914 Strength (4)

10. FUJI (mount Fuji-Yama) - 12, 500t, 18 knots, 4-30.5cm/10-15.2cm, 640 crew, 1897

11. SHIKISHIMA class, ASAHI (morning or rising sun), SHIKISHIMA (old poetic name for Japan), 2 ships - 15,200t, 18 knots, 4-30.5cm/14-15.2cm, 840 crew, 1900

12. MIKASA (mountain) - 15,100t, 18 knots, 4-30.5cm/14-15.2cm, 830 crew, 1902.

Mikasa, a pre-dreadnought, is still in existence as museum ship at Yokosuka, south of Tokyo

 

ARMOURED CRUISERS

 

August 1914 Strength (8)
The four 2nd class battlecruisers of the 'Ibuki' and 'Tsukuba' classes (above) are sometimes classified as armoured cruisers to give a total of 12

13. ASAMA class, ASAMA (sacred volcanic island), TOKIWA (evergreen), 2 ships - 9,700t, 21 knots, 4-20.3cm/14-15.2cm, 730 crew, 1899

Asama, with battlecruisers 'Kurama' and 'Tsukuba' of First South Sea Squadron searched the Carolines, Marshalls and Western Pacific north of the equator for Adm von Spee’s Fleet, September - November 1914, and after the Battle of Coronel, prepared to move to Chilean waters

Tokiwa and armoured cruiser 'Yakumo' were at Singapore when 'Emden' was sunk in early November 1914, preparing to form a Japanese squadron to work in the Bay of Bengal

14. IDZUMO class, IDZUMO, IWATE, 2 ships - 9,700t, 20 knots, 4-20.3cm/14-15.2cm, 670 crew, 1900-01

Idzumo moved from Mexican to North American waters after the declaration of war to protect Allied trade, later heading for South American waters to play her part in the hunt for von Spee. In August 1917 she arrived in the Mediterranean to relieve protected cruiser 'Akashi' as flagship of the destroyer flotillas based at Malta on convoy protection duties

Iwate joined First South Sea Squadron in the South Central Pacific to hunt for von Spee

15. YAKUMO - 9,600t, 20 knots, 4-20.3cm/12-15.2cm, 700 crew, 1900

Yakumo and armoured cruiser 'Tokiwa' were at Singapore when 'Emden' was sunk, preparing to form a Japanese squadron to work in the Bay of Bengal

16. ADZUMA - 9,300t, 20 knots, 4-20.3cm/12-15.2cm, 650 crew, 1900

17. KASUGA class, KASUGA, NIISHIN, 2 ships - both 7,600t, 20 knots, 600 crew, 1904; 'Kasuga' - 1-25.4cm/2-20.3cm/14-15.2cm, 'Niishin' - 4-20.3cm/14-15.2cm

Nisshin prepared to join the Second South Sea Squadron based at Truk in the search for von Spee

 

PROTECTED CRUISERS

 

August 1914 Strength (15)

18. TAKACHIHO - 3,600t, 18 knots, 6 or 8-15cm, 325 crew, 1886

Takachiho was part of the large Japanese fleet engaged in the capture of the German base of Tsingtau in northern China. Directly engaged in the attack were three old battleships, two coast defence ships, three armoured cruisers, a seaplane carrier and destroyer flotilla with its light cruiser leader. Patrolling the Yellow Sea was a dreadnought, two battleships, four light cruisers and a destroyer flotilla, and further south still another light cruiser and six gunboats

TAKACHIHO (also 'Takaschio', sacred place in Japan), 17th October 1914, NE China, off Tsingtau in the Yellow Sea (c 36-00’N, 120-30’E) - torpedoed by German torpedo boat 'S-90'. Employed as a minelayer, the 'Takachiho' was attacked by the 'S-90' which managed to slip out of Kiaochow (Kiao Chau) Bay on the night of the 17th/18th as the siege approached its end; 271 men were lost as she went down. Some sources locate her loss in Kiaochow Bay, others further offshore in the Yellow Sea. 'S-90' was run aground SE of Tsingtao later the same day and scuttled. (One source describes 'Takachiho' as on patrol when she was mined on the 19th with the loss of 243 men.)

19. MATSUSHIMA class, HASHIDATE (port), ITSUKUSHIMA, 2 ships - 4,200t, 16 knots, 1-32cm/12-12cm, 360 crew, 1894/91.

Training ships from 1906

20. AKITSUSHIMA - 3,100t, 19 knots, 4-15.2cm/6-12cm, 330 crew, 1894

21. SUMA class, AKASHI (place in Japan), SUMA (place in Japan), 2 ships - 2,700t, 19 knots, 2-15.2cm/6-12cm, 310 crew, 1899/96

Akashi arrived in Malta in mid-April 1917 as flagship of eight destroyers of 10th and 11th Flotillas, sent at British request for convoy protection in the Mediterranean. She was relieved by armoured cruiser 'Idzumo' in August

22. CHITOSE class, KASAGI, CHITOSE (long life), 2 ships, 1 lost - 4,800t, 22 knots, 2-20.3cm/10-12cm, c 430 crew, 1898/99

KASAGI (mountain), 13th August 1916, Japan in Tsugaru Strait separating northern Honshu from Hokkaido - wrecked. Serving as a training ship

23. TSUSHIMA class, NIITAKA, TSUSHIMA (strait), 2 ships - 3,400t, 20 knots, 6-15.2cm, 320 crew, 1904

24. OTOWA - 3,000t, 21 knots, 2-15.2cm/6-12cm, 310 crew, 1904

OTOWA (mountain or river?), 1st August 1917, Japan, near Cape Daio or Taio, southern Honshu in Pacific Ocean (c 34-50’N, 137-00E) - ran aground and wrecked. Presumed serving as protected cruiser

25. Russo-Japanese 1904-05 War prizes, ASO, SOYA, TSUGARU ('Suzuya' stricken 1913)

Soya (6,500t) returned as 'Varyag' to Russia in 1916, but ran aground, salved and taken over by British

 

 

LIGHT CRUISERS

 

August 1914 Strength (6)

26. TONE - 4,100t, 23 knots, 2-15.2cm/10-12cm, 370 crew, 1910

27. YODO class, MOGAMI, YODO, 2 ships - 1,250t, 22 knots, 2-12cm/4-7.8cm, 180 crew, 1908.

Reclassified as gunboats

28. CHIKUMA class, CHIKUMA, HIRADO, YAHAGI, 3 ships - 5,000t, 26 knots, 8-15.2cm/4-7.8cm, 415 crew, 1912

Chikuma joined the hunt for 'Emden' in the East Indies and Indian Ocean in September, and later prepared to move to the Pacific in the hunt for von Spee

Yahagi first joined the hunt for the 'Emden' in the Indian Ocean. Then Hirado and Yahagi with battleship 'Satsuma' sailed as the Second South Sea Squadron to search the Philippines, Palau Islands and East Indies area, October-November in the von Spee hunt, and after Coronel moved towards the South Central Pacific.

 

SEAPLANE CARRIER

 

August 1914 Strength (1)

29. WAKAMIYA - 5,900t, 10 knots, 4 Farman seaplanes, 230 crew, converted 1914 from naval transport

Wakamiya and her aircraft took part in the siege of Tsingtao. According to Conway, the Farmans reportedly sank one German minelayer and damaged shore installations. If so this would be the first successful carrier air raid in history, but needs confirmation

 

DESTROYERS

 

August 1914 Strength (50)

30. IKAZUCHI class, AKEBONO (dawn or daybreak), OBORO (haziness at moonlight), 2 ships - 360t, 31 knots, 1-12pdr/5-6pdr/2-45.7cm tt, 55 crew, 1899/00

Class nameship 'Ikazuchi' sank in 1913

31. MURAKUMO class, KAGERO (shimmering mist or gossamer), MURAKUMO (cloud cluster), SHIRANUI (or 'Siranui', phosphorescent foam), USUGUMO (fleecy clouds), YUGIRI (evening mist), 5 ships - 275t, 30 knots, 1-12pdr/5-6pdr/2-45.7cm tt, 54 crew, 1898/00

32. KASUMI (mist of flowers) - 360t, 31 knots, 2-12pdr/4-6pdr/2-45.7cm tt, 59 crew, 1902

33. SHIRAKUMO class, ASASHIO (or 'Asasio', morning tide), SHIRAKUMO (or 'Sirakumo', white clouds), 2 ships - 340t, 31 knots, 2-12pdr/4-6pdr/2-45.7cm tt, 59 crew, 1901/02

34. HARUSAME class, ARARE (hail), ARIAKE (dawn with the moon present), ASAGIRI (morning mist), FUBUKI (or 'Hubuki', blizzard), MURASAME (scattered showers), 5 ships - 375t, 29 knots, 2-12pdr/5-6pdr/2-45.7cm tt, 55 crew, 1903-05

Class nameship 'Harusame' sank in 1911

35. ASAKAZE class, ASAKAZE (morning breeze), SHIROTAYE and others, 31 ships in total, 1 lost - 380t, 29 knots, 6-7.8cm/2-45.7cm tt, 70 crew, 1905-09

SHIROTAYE (or 'Shirotae', white in poetical language), 3rd September 1914, NE China, off Tsingtau in the Yellow Sea (c 36-00’N, 120-30’E) - wrecked. Taking part in operations against besieged fortress of Tsingtau; reportedly in action with German gunboat "Jaguar" at the time she was wrecked. Some sources locate her loss in Kiaochow (Kiao Chau) Bay, others further offshore in the Yellow Sea

36. UMIKAZE class, UMIKAZE (sea breeze), YAMAKAZE (wind from the hills), 2 ships - 1,030t, 33 knots, 2-12cm/5-7.8cm/4-45.7cm tt, 140 crew, 1911

37. SAKURA class, SAKURA (cherry), TACHIBANA, 2 ships - 605t, 30 knots, 1-12cm/4-7.8cm/4-45.7cm tt, 92 crew, 1912

Wartime Additions (c 27)

38. KABA class, KABA (birch), KAEDE, KASHIWA, KATSURA, KIRI, KUSUNOKI, MATSU, SAKAKI, SUGI, UME, 10 ships - 665t, 30 knots, 1-12cm/4-7.8cm/4-45.7cm tt, 92 crew, 1915

Eight of the 'Kaba' class, including 'Sakaki' arrived at Malta in mid-April 1917 for convoy protection duty as the 10th and 11th Flotillas with cruiser 'Akashi' as their flagship

Sakaki, damaged 11th June 1917, Eastern Mediterranean off Crete - torpedoed once by Austrian 'U.27'. On escort duty, her bows were blown off when many of the crew were forward in the mess hall; 68 men killed. She was salvaged and repaired

39. MOMO class, HINOKI, KASHI, MOMO, YANAGI, 4 ships - 835t, 31 knots, 3-12cm/6-45.7cm tt, 110 crew, 1916-17

The four 'Momo’s' arrived in Malta in August 1917 as the 15th Flotilla with cruiser 'Idzumo' to add to the Japanese contribution to convoy protection in the Mediterranean

40. ISOKAZE class, AMATSUKAZE (heavenly wind), HAMAKAZE, ISOKAZE (shore breeze), TOKITSUKAZE (or 'Tokitukaze', fair wind), 4 ships - 1,230t, 31 knots, 4-12cm/6-45.7cm tt, 130 crew, 1917

41. British ACORN class, SENDAN, KANRAN, 2 ships - 770t, 27 knots, 2-10.2cm/2-53.3cm tt, 72 crew, 1912

'Minstrel' and 'Nemesis' handed over to Japanese Navy in June 1917 and manned by them for duration of the war in the Mediterranean. Renamed 'Sendan' and 'Kanran', to bring the Japanese total in the Mediterranean to 14 destroyers. Returned at end of war

42. ENOKI class, ENOKI, KEYAKI, KUWA, MAKI, NARA, TSUBAKI , 6 ships - 850t, 31 knots, 3-12cm/6-45.7cm tt, 110 crew, 1918

43. URAKAZE - 910t, 30 knots, 1-12cm/4-7.8cm/4-53.3cm tt, 120 crew, 1915

British built; not delivered until 1919

 

SUBMARINES

 

August 1914 Strength (12)

44. HOLLAND type, Nos 1-5, 5 boats - 100/125t, 8/7 knots, 1-45.7cm tt, 13 crew, 1905

No.4, 14th November 1916, Japan, at Kure, southern Honshu in Inland Sea (c 34-30’N, 133-00’E) - petrol explosion. Petrol-engined submarine, later raised and repaired; 2 men dead, 14 survivors

45. KAIGUN HOLLAND type, No 7 - 57/63t, 8/4 knots, 1-45.7cm tt, 14 crew, 1906 (No 6 lost in 1910)

46. C1 - C2 VICKERS class, Nos 8-12, 5 boats - 290/320t, 12/4 knots, 2-45.7cm tt, 25 crew, 1909/11

47. VK type, No 13 - 305/340t, 11/8 knots, 2-45.7cm tt, 26 crew, 1912

Wartime Additions (3)

48. C3 VICKERS class, Nos 16-17, 2 boats - 290/320t, 12/4 knots, 2-45.7cm tt, 26 crew, 1916/17

49. S1 class, No 15 - 420/665t, 17/10 knots, 4-45.7cm tt/1-2pdr, c 30 crew, 1917.

French built; No 14 was commissioned as the French 'Armide'

 

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revised  9/1/09