Japanese battleship Yashima

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Japanese battleship Yashima.jpg
Yashima in 1897
History
Naval Ensign of Japan.svg Japan
Name:Yashima
Namesake: Japan
Ordered: 1894 Naval Programme
Builder: Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick
Cost: ¥10,500,000
Yard number: 625
Laid down: 6 December 1894
Launched: 28 February 1896
Completed: 9 September 1897
Fate: Sank 15 May 1904 after striking two mines
General characteristics
Class and type: Fuji-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 12,230 long tons (12,430 t) (normal)
Length: 412 ft (125.6 m)
Beam: 73 ft 6 in (22.4 m)
Draught: 26 ft 3 in (8.0 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 4,000  nmi (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 650
Armament:
Armour:

Yashima(八島,Yashima) was a Fuji-class pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the 1890s. As Japan lacked the industrial capacity to build such warships, the ship was designed and built in the United Kingdom. She participated in the early stages of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war. She was involved in subsequent operations until she struck two mines off Port Arthur in May 1904. She did not sink immediately, but capsized while under tow later that day. The Japanese were able to keep her loss a secret from the Russians for over a year so they did not try to take advantage of her loss.

<i>Fuji</i>-class battleship ship class

The Fuji class was a two-ship class of pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the mid-1890s. They were the first battleships in the IJN, and were constructed in the UK as Japan lacked the industrial facilities needed to build them. Their design was based on the battleships being built for the Royal Navy at that time.

Pre-dreadnought battleship Type of battleship, preceding the development of HMS Dreadnought

Pre-dreadnought battleships were sea-going battleships built between the mid- to late 1880s and 1905, before the launch of HMS Dreadnought. Pre-dreadnoughts replaced the ironclad battleships of the 1870s and 1880s. Built from steel, and protected by hardened steel armour, pre-dreadnought battleships carried a main battery of very heavy guns in barbettes supported by one or more secondary batteries of lighter weapons. They were powered by coal-fuelled triple-expansion steam engines.

Imperial Japanese Navy Naval branch of the Empire of Japan

The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.

Contents

Background and description

Yashima was 412 feet (125.6 m) long overall and had a beam of 73 feet 6 inches (22.4 m) and a full-load draught of 26 feet 3 inches (8 m). She normally displaced 12,230 long ton s (12,430 t) and had a crew of 650 officers and ratings. [1] Unlike her sister ship Fuji, she was fitted as an admiral's flagship. [2]

Length overall maximum length of a vessels hull measured parallel to the waterline

Length overall is the maximum length of a vessel's hull measured parallel to the waterline. This length is important while docking the ship. It is the most commonly used way of expressing the size of a ship, and is also used for calculating the cost of a marina berth.

Beam (nautical) width of a ship at its widest point measured at its nominal waterline

The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point as measured at the ship's nominal waterline. The beam is a bearing projected at right-angles from the fore and aft line, outwards from the widest part of ship. Beam may also be used to define the maximum width of a ship's hull, or maximum width including superstructure overhangs.

Draft (hull) the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull (keel)

The draft or draught of a ship's hull is the vertical distance between the waterline and the bottom of the hull (keel), with the thickness of the hull included; in the case of not being included the draft outline would be obtained. Draft determines the minimum depth of water a ship or boat can safely navigate. The draft can also be used to determine the weight of the cargo on board by calculating the total displacement of water and then using Archimedes' principle. A table made by the shipyard shows the water displacement for each draft. The density of the water and the content of the ship's bunkers has to be taken into account. The closely related term "trim" is defined as the difference between the forward and aft drafts.

The ship was powered by two vertical triple-expansion steam engines using steam generated by ten cylindrical boilers. The engines were rated at 13,500 indicated horsepower (10,100 kW), using forced draught, and designed to reach a top speed of 18.25 knots (34 km/h; 21 mph). Yashima, however, reached a top speed of 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph) from 14,075 ihp (10,496 kW) on her sea trials. [3] She carried enough coal to allow her to steam for 4,000 nautical mile s (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). [4] [Note 1]

Scotch marine boiler design of steam boiler best known for its use on ships

A "Scotch" marine boiler is a design of steam boiler best known for its use on ships.

Knot (unit) unit of speed

The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, exactly 1.852 km/h. The ISO standard symbol for the knot is kn. The same symbol is preferred by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); kt is also common, especially in aviation, where it is the form recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The knot is a non-SI unit. Worldwide, the knot is used in meteorology, and in maritime and air navigation—for example, a vessel travelling at 1 knot along a meridian travels approximately one minute of geographic latitude in one hour.

A sea trial is the testing phase of a watercraft. It is also referred to as a "shakedown cruise" by many naval personnel. It is usually the last phase of construction and takes place on open water, and it can last from a few hours to many days.

Yashima's main battery consisted of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns mounted in two twin gun turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure. The secondary armament consisted of ten quick-firing (QF) 6-inch (152 mm) guns, four mounted in casemates on the sides of the hull and six mounted on the upper deck, protected by gun shields. [6] A number of smaller guns were carried for defence against torpedo boats. These included fourteen QF 3-pounder (47-millimetre, 1.9 in) guns and ten 2.5-pounder Hotchkiss guns of the same calibre. [Note 2] She was also armed with five 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes, one above water in the bow and a pair on each broadside. Yashima's waterline armour belt consisted of Harvey armour 14–18 inches (356–457 mm) thick. Her gun turrets were protected by 6-inch armour plates and her deck was 2.5 inches (64 mm) thick. [1]

Main battery

A main battery is the primary weapon or group of weapons around which a warship is designed. As such, a main battery was historically a gun or group of guns, as in the broadsides of cannon on a ship of the line. Later, this came to be turreted groups of similar large-caliber naval rifles. With the evolution of technology the term has come to encompass guided missiles as a vessel's principal offensive weapon, deployed both on surface ships and submarines.

Gun turret protective weapon mount or firing position

A gun turret is a location from which weapons can be fired that affords protection, visibility, and some cone of fire. A modern gun turret is generally a weapon mount that houses the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in some degree of azimuth and elevation.

Superstructure upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline; structure above the deck of a ship

A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied to various kinds of physical structures such as buildings, bridges, or ships having the degree of freedom zero. The word "superstructure" is a combination of the Latin prefix, super with the Latin stem word, structure.

In 1901, the ship exchanged 16 of her 47 mm guns for an equal number of QF 12-pounder (3 in, 76 mm) 12 cwt guns. [Note 3] This raised the number of crewmen to 652 and later to 741. [4]

Construction and career

A model of Yashima in the British National Maritime Museum Battleship Yashima.jpg
A model of Yashima in the British National Maritime Museum

Yashima, an old name for Japan, [10] was ordered as part of the 1894 Naval Programme and the ship was laid down by Armstrong Whitworth at their Elswick shipyard on 6 December 1894 as yard number 625. The ship was launched on 28 December 1896 [11] and completed on 17 August 1897, [12] at a total cost of ¥10,500,000. [13] She conducted her sea trials during the following month. [11] Yashima departed the UK on 15 September and arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, on 30 November. [13]

Keel Lower centreline structural element of a ship or boat hull

On boats and ships, the keel is either of two parts: a structural element that sometimes resembles a fin and protrudes below a boat along the central line, or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap. As the laying down of the keel is the initial step in the construction of a ship, in British and American shipbuilding traditions the construction is dated from this event. Only the ship's launching is considered more significant in its creation.

Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. With headquarters in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, Armstrong Whitworth built armaments, ships, locomotives, automobiles and aircraft.

Elswick, Tyne and Wear electoral ward of Newcastle City Council

Elswick is a ward of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in the western part of the city, bordering the River Tyne. Historically in Northumberland, Elswick became part of Newcastle in 1835. The usual resident population of the ward in 2011 was 13,198, 4.7% of the total population of Newcastle upon Tyne, comprising 5,116 households. The ward profile shows Elswick is the ward with the highest percentage of children under 14 years in Newcastle and has a lower than average number of senior citizens (10%) than Newcastle as a whole. Elswick has a lower than average number of houses in owner-occupation.

She was initially assigned to the Standing Fleet, the IJN's primary combat fleet, but was reduced to reserve on 20 November. The ship was reclassified as a first-class battleship on 21 March 1898 and reassigned to the Standing Fleet. Two years later, Yashima was again placed in reserve where she remained until reactivated on 28 December 1903 and assigned to the 1st Division of the 1st Fleet of the Combined Fleet. [13]

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Yashima, commanded by Captain Hajime Sakamoto, participated in the Battle of Port Arthur on 9 February 1904 when Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō led the 1st Fleet in an attack on the Russian ships of the Pacific Squadron anchored just outside Port Arthur. Tōgō had expected the surprise night attack by his destroyers to be much more successful than it was, anticipating that the Russians would be badly disorganized and weakened, but they had recovered from their surprise and were ready for his attack. The Japanese ships were spotted by the protected cruiser Boyarin, which was patrolling offshore and alerted the Russian defences. Tōgō chose to attack the Russian coastal defences with his main armament and engage the ships with his secondary guns. Splitting his fire proved to be a poor decision as the Japanese eight-inch (203 mm) and six-inch guns inflicted little damage on the Russian ships, which concentrated all their fire on the Japanese ships with some effect. Although many ships on both sides were hit, Russian casualties numbered only 17, while the Japanese suffered 60 killed and wounded before Tōgō disengaged. Yashima was not hit during the battle. [14]

On 10 March, Yashima and her sister Fuji, under the command of Rear Admiral Nashiba Tokioki, blindly bombarded the harbour of Port Arthur from Pigeon Bay, on the southwest side of the Liaodong Peninsula, at a range of 9.5 kilometres (5.9 mi). They fired 154 twelve-inch shells, [15] but did little damage. [16] When they tried again on 22 March, they were attacked by Russian coast defence guns that had been transferred there by the new Russian commander, Vice Admiral Stepan Makarov, and also from several Russian ships in Port Arthur using observers overlooking Pigeon Bay. The Japanese ships disengaged after Fuji was hit by a 12-inch shell. [15]

Yashima participated in the action of 13 April when Tōgō successfully lured out a portion of the Pacific Squadron, including Makarov's flagship, the battleship Petropavlovsk. When Makarov spotted the five battleships of the 1st Division, he turned back for Port Arthur and Petropavlovsk struck a minefield laid by the Japanese the previous night. The Russian battleship sank in less than two minutes after one of her magazines exploded, Makarov being one of the 677 killed. Emboldened by his success, Tōgō resumed long-range bombardment missions, which prompted the Russians to lay more minefields. [17]

On 14 May 1904, Nashiba put to sea with the battleships Hatsuse (flagship), Shikishima, and Yashima, the protected cruiser Kasagi, and the dispatch boat Tatsuta to relieve the Japanese blockading force off Port Arthur. [18] On the following morning, the squadron encountered a minefield laid by the Russian minelayer Amur. Hatsuse struck one mine that disabled her steering [19] around 11:10 and Yashima struck two others when moving to assist Hatsuse. One blew a hole in her starboard aft boiler room and the other detonated on the starboard forward side of her hull, near the underwater torpedo room. After the second detonation the ship had a 9° list to starboard that gradually increased throughout the day. [13]

Yashima was towed away from the minefield, north towards the Japanese base in the Elliott Islands. She was still taking on water at an uncontrollable rate and Sakamoto ordered the ship anchored around 17:00 near Encounter Rock to allow the crew to easily abandon ship. He assembled the crew, which sang the Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo , and then abandoned ship. Kasagi took Yashima in tow, but the battleship's list continued to increase and she capsized about three hours later, after the cruiser was forced to cast off the tow, [20] roughly at coordinates 38°34′N121°40′E / 38.567°N 121.667°E / 38.567; 121.667 Coordinates: 38°34′N121°40′E / 38.567°N 121.667°E / 38.567; 121.667 . [4] No Russians observed Yashima sink so the Japanese were able to conceal her loss for more than a year. [21] As part of the deception, the surviving crewmen were assigned to four auxiliary gunboats that were assigned to guard Port Arthur for the rest of the war and addressed their letters as if they were still aboard the battleship. [13]

Notes

  1. Lengerer gives a coal storage figure of 1,110 long tons (1,130 t) that gave her a range of 7,000 nmi (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 10 knots. [5]
  2. Sources differ significantly on the exact outfit of light guns. Naval historians Roger Chesneau and Eugene Kolesnik and Hans Lengerer cite twenty 3- and four 2.5-pounders. [7] [8] Jentschura, Jung & Mickel give a total of twenty-four 47 mm guns, without dividing them between the 3 and 2.5-pounders, [4] while Silverstone says that they had only twenty 47 mm guns, again without discriminating between the two types. [9]
  3. "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 Brook 1999, p. 122
  2. Lengerer 2009, p. 51
  3. Lengerer 2008, p. 27
  4. 1 2 3 4 Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 16
  5. Lengerer 2008, pp. 11, 23
  6. Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 221
  7. Lengerer 2008, p. 23
  8. Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 220
  9. Silverstone, p. 309
  10. Jane, p. 400
  11. 1 2 Brook 1985, p. 268
  12. Jentschura, Jung & Mickel, p. 17
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Lengerer 2008, p. 14
  14. Forczyk, pp. 41–44
  15. 1 2 Forczyk, p. 44
  16. Brook 1985, p. 269
  17. Forczyk, pp. 45–46
  18. Warner & Warner, p. 279
  19. Forczyk, p. 46
  20. Warner & Warner, pp. 279–82
  21. Warner & Warner, pp. 283, 332

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