Japanese battleship Kongō: Wikis

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Japanese battleship Kongō
Kongō in pre-1931 configuration
Career Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Kongō
Ordered: 1911
Laid down: 17 January 1911[1]
Launched: 18 May 1912
Commissioned: 16 August 1913
Struck: 20 January 1945
Fate: Sunk on 21 November 1944 in the Formosa Strait[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Kongō-class battlecruiser
Displacement: 36,600 long tons (37,187 t)
Length: 222 m (728 ft 4 in)
Beam: 31 m (101 ft 8 in)
Draught: 9.7 m (31 ft 10 in)
Installed power: 47,724.8 kW (64,000 shp)
Propulsion: 4 × Parsons direct-drive turbines,
36 × Yarrow boilers (as built); 16 × Kampon boilers (after 1935 refit),
4 × shafts
Speed:
  • As Built: 27.5 kn (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
  • After 1935 Refit: 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Range: 18,520 km (10,000 nmi; 11,510 mi) at 14 kn (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Capacity:
  • As Built: Coal: 1,200 tons (normal), 4,000 tons (maximum); Fuel Oil: 1,000 tons
  • After 1935 Refit: 4,500 tons of fuel oil
Complement: 980
Armament:

As Built:

After 1935 Refit:

  • 8 × 356 mm (14 in)/45 cal guns (4x2)
  • 16 × 152 mm (6 in)/50 cal guns (8x2)
  • 8 × 127 mm (5 in) DP guns
  • up to 118 × 25 mm (1 in) AA guns
  • 4 × 13.2 mm (0.52 in) machine guns
  • 4 × submerged 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes
Armour:
  • Belt: 203 mm (8 in); 76 to 102 mm (3 to 4 in) (ends)
  • Deck: 69.85 mm (2.75 in)
  • Bulkheads: 228.6 mm (9 in), 152 mm (6 in), 127 mm (5 in) (fore); 203 mm (8 in), 152 mm (6 in) (aft)
  • Barbettes: 254 mm (10 in)
  • Turrets: 228.6 mm (9 in)
  • Conning Tower: 254 mm (10 in)
Aircraft carried: 3 × floatplanes
Aviation facilities: 1 × catapult

Kongō (金剛, "vajra" or "indestructible") was the Imperial Japanese Navy's first super-dreadnought type battlecruiser, and the name-ship of her class, which also included the Hiei, Kirishima, and Haruna. She was upgraded to a battleship rating in the 1930s and served in several major naval operations during World War II before being sunk by enemy action in 1944.

Contents

Design and build

In 1908, the commissioning of the battlecruiser HMS Invincible – armed with eight 305 mm (12 in) guns – into the Royal Navy rendered all of the Imperial Japanese Navy's warships obsolete, including those under design. In response, the Japanese Diet passed the 1911 Naval Emergency Expansion bill, funding the design and construction of one battleship and four armored cruisers. The battleship was to be Fusō and the first of the cruisers was Kongō.[1]

Kongō was the last major Japanese warship to be built abroad, being built by Vickers in England. Kongō was the creation of Vickers' chief designer, Sir George Thurston.[1] Freed from the Admiralty's tight design specifications, he came up with what was immediately recognised to be a fine and superbly-balanced warship, mounting eight 356 mm (14 in) main guns. The key feature of the Kongō-class was that it had its main gun turrets all either aft or fore, eliminating the amidship turret which had a poor firing arc.

Kongō was laid down on 17 January 1911, launched on 18 May 1912 and completed and sent to Japan on 16 August 1913. Named after Mount Kongō in Osaka Prefecture, Kongō was the first battleship in the world to carry 356 mm (14 in) main armament[2].

Between the wars, Kongō was heavily rebuilt twice by the Imperial Japanese Navy. In 1929, the Navy was unable to build more battleships as a result of the 5:5:3 limitation of the Washington Naval Treaty. Kongō and her sisters were therefore given heavier horizontal armour and torpedo bulges, as well as equipped to carry three Type 90 model 0 floatplanes. All 36 Yarrow-type boilers were removed and replaced with 10 new boilers. On 31 March 1931, the reconstruction was completed and Kongō was rerated a battleship.[1]

Japan withdrew from the Washington Naval Treaty in 1933, and in 1935 began rebuilding the Kongō class again. Their sterns were lengthened by 7.62 m (25 ft). Kongō was upgraded with oil-fired Kampon boilers and Parsons-geared turbines. A catapult and rails for three Nakajima E8N1 Type 95 ("Dave") and Kawanishi E7K1 Type 94 ("Alf") floatplanes was installed. The 1935 rebuild saw their maximum speed increased to 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph), and they were reclassified as "fast battleships". The reconstruction was finished on 8 January 1937.[1]

Since Kongō and her sisters were originally battlecruisers, built for speed, they were initially the only battleships that could keep up with the fast fleet carriers. This made them the perfect heavy escorts for the aircraft carriers that were beginning to serve as the key offensive elements of the Japanese Navy.

Service during World War II

Kongō after her 1929–31 reconstruction

Kongō entered World War II under the command of Captain Koyanagi Tomiji. On 1 August 1941, she was assigned to the Third Battleship Division (BatDiv 3) of the First Fleet at Hashirajima in Hiroshima Bay, along with Hiei, Kirishima, and Haruna. On 29 November 1941, the second section of BatDiv 3 (BatDiv3/2), composed of Kongō and Haruna, was attached to Admiral Nobutake Kondō's Second Fleet, Southern (Malay) Force's Main Body, along with Cruiser Division 4 (CruDiv 4) – Atago, Maya and Takao – and eight destroyers, and departed for Makung, Pescadores. On 2 December, the Main Body arrived at Makung and was notified that hostilities would commence on 8 December.[1]

On 4 December 1941, the Main Body set sail for the South China Sea to provide distant support to the invasion forces. On the afternoon of 9 December, the Main Body was sailing southeast of Indochina near the Poulo Condore Islands when the submarine I-65 sighted a British force steaming northwest.[1] This was Force Z under Admiral Sir Tom S. V. Phillips, sortied out of Singapore to intercept the Japanese landings on Malaya. Force Z comprised two capital ships, the modern battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the refitted World War I-era battlecruiser HMS Repulse, and a destroyer escort.

The Main Body sortied for a night engagement with Force Z but was unable to make contact, despite the two forces coming within 8 km (4 nmi; 5 mi) of each other.[1] Later that day, the Main Body and other ships that had joined the search departed after receiving word that the big British ships had been overwhelmed and sunk by air attack by 88 dive and torpedo bombers out of Saigon and Thu Dau Mot in French Indochina.

The Main Body spent the next two months covering a number of invasions: supporting the second Malaya convoy while northeast of Natuna Besar Island; covering the landings at Lingayen Gulf, Philippines; and providing distance cover from around Palau for air strikes on Ambon Island in the Dutch East Indies. On 21 February 1942, the Main Body arrived at Staring Bay near Kendari, Celebes and met up with the Carrier Striking Force under Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, fresh from their 19 February strike on Darwin. Four days later, BatDiv 3/2, Atago, Takao and two destroyers were detached from the Main Body under Vice Admiral Kondo at the start of Operation J, the invasion of the Dutch East Indies. Tasked with hunting shipping attempting to escape Java, BatDiv 3/2 bombarded Christmas Island, 306 km (165 nmi; 190 mi) south of Java, on 7 March 1942. By its return to Staring Bay on 9 March, following surrender of the Dutch East Indies, Kondo's force had sunk eight British, American and Dutch ships. From 10–25 March, the crews of Kongō and her three sister ships are put on standby alert and allowed their first rest and relaxation after three months of continuous operations.[1]

On 26 March 1942, BatDiv 3 sortied out of Staring Bay through the Timor Sea into the Indian Ocean with the Carrier Striking Force: Carrier Division 1 (CarDiv 1)'s Akagi, CarDiv 2's Hiryū and Sōryū, CarDiv 5's Shōkaku and the Zuikaku. During the following Indian Ocean raid, the Japanese attacked the British forces at Colombo, Ceylon on 5 April and at Trincomalee four days later. During the fighting around Trincomalee, Kongō was attacked by nine Bristol Blenheim bombers of the No. XI Squadron Royal Air Force. The Bristols scored no hits and five were lost to the Zeros of the Japanese Combat Air Patrol. At the end of the Indian Ocean operations, Kongō returned to Japan and entered dry dock at Sasebo Navy Yard for refitting of her anti-aircraft guns from 23 April – 2 May.[1]

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Midway

On 27 May 1942, Kongō and Hiei departed Hashirajima, having been reassigned into BatDiv 3, section 1 of the Second Fleet's Strike Force, Support Force, Main Body, also composed of five cruisers and seven destroyers for the strike at Midway Atoll. On 6 June, two days after the stunning loss of the carriers Kaga, Akagi, Sōryū, and Hiryū in the Battle of Midway, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto ordered BatDiv 3 and other vessels to detach from the Second Fleet and go north to meet up with the Second Mobile Force's carriers Junyō and Ryūjō, then attacking the Aleutian Islands. Later reinforced by Zuikaku, this force patrolled 1,126 km (608 nmi; 700 mi) south of Kiska in anticipation of an American counter-attack that did not materialize.[1]

Guadalcanal

By mid-July, Kongō had been reassigned to the Second Fleet, Advanced Force, Vanguard Group, BatDiv 3, along with Haruna. On 11 September 1942, BatDiv 3 sortied out of Chuuk towards the Solomon Islands as the Second Fleet accompanied the carriers of the Third Fleet towards the Battle of Guadalcanal that had begun with the American landing on 7 August. Three days later, Kongō came under attack from eight heavy bombers but was undamaged. The fleets were ordered back to Truk on 20 September, but BatDiv 3, the light cruiser Isuzu and nine destroyers were assigned to the Emergency Bombardment Force. Kongō and Haruna bombarded Henderson Field on Lunga Point, Guadalcanal beginning at 01:27 on 13 October 1942.[1] BatDiv 3 passed Lunga Point on an easterly course, firing their main armament to the starboard before a 180° turn and firing to the port while returning. 152 mm (6 in) shore batteries responded, but did not have the range to hit the battleships. Kongō fired 104 625 kg (1,378 lb) high-explosive Type 3 "Sanshikidan" 356 mm (14 in) shells, 331 673 kg (1,484 lb) Type 1 armor-piercing 356 mm (14 in) shells, and 27 152 mm (6 in) shells. This was the first time she fired the Type 3 shells. More than 40 American aircraft were lost on the ground in the bombardment, and the airfield rendered temporarily unusable. An attack by four PT boats of the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three was driven off by the destroyer screen. The bombardment ended at 02:30.

Santa Cruz

On 25 October 1942, the Advanced Force was 845 km (456 nmi; 525 mi) northwest of Espiritu Santo when it was spotted by a B-17 Flying Fortress of the land-based 11th Bombardment Group, Heavy. During the following day's Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Kongō came under attack by four Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bombers from the USS Enterprise but was undamaged. She returned to Chuuk, and on 1 November, Captain Koyanagi was promoted to Rear Admiral.[1]

Eight days later, BatDiv 3 departed Chuuk for the Ontong Java Plateau north of the Solomons as part of the screen for the Main Body. The attempt to locate and sink Enterprise with air attacks failed. During the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal that began on 12 November, BatDiv 3 provided distant cover for the bombardment force that was to shell Henderson Field before withdrawing on the 15th. On 16 December 1942, Captain Matsuji Ijuin took command of Kongō and Rear Admiral Koyanagi was reassigned as Commander of the destroyer squadron (ComDesRon) at Rabaul. On 30 January 1943, a task force of ships from the Second and Third Fleets steamed north of the Solomons as a feint while destroyers from Rabaul evacuated the 12,000 troops from Guadacanal before returning to Sasebo.[1]

From 27 February – 13 March 1943, Kongō was drydocked while concrete protection was added around the steering mechanism, new watertight bulkheads and emergency fuel pumps were installed, and several 152 mm (6 in) secondary guns were replaced with anti-aircraft guns. These measures were taken after the loss of Hiei and Kirishima in the Guadalcanal naval battle. Back in Chuuk on 12 May 1943, BatDiv 3 and others were reassigned to the Attu Task Force in response to the American invasion of Attu Island. A powerful force including three carriers had formed up in Tokyo Bay when word came on 22 May that Attu had fallen, and the task force was disbanded. Captain Shimazaki Toshio took command on 17 July, while Ijuin, promoted to Rear Admiral, was reassigned ComDesRon 3, Second Fleet.[1] In late October 1943, a fleet including BatDiv 3 sortied out of Chuuk to intercept a predicted second raid on Wake Island by the six carriers under Rear Admiral Alfred Montgomery but no contact was made.

Battle of the Philippine Sea, 20 June 1944: The battleship in the lower center is either Kongō or Haruna, while the carrier making evasive maneuvers to the right is Chiyoda.

Philippine Sea

From 30 January – 14 February 1944, BatDiv 3 was drydocked at Sasebo again as her AA guns were reconfigured. In early March, BatDiv 3 disembarked troops on the Lingga Islands, south of Singapore, before beginning several months of training. On 11 May, BatDiv 3 steamed with the Mobile Fleet from Lingga to Tawi-Tawi in the far south of the Philippines. On 13 June, the signal was given to start Operation A-Go, which became known as the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Mobile Fleet left Tawi-Tawi, being spotted by USS Redfin outside the anchorage.[1] The fleet arrived in Guimaras the next day and left Guimaras on the 15th through the Visayan Sea, spotted again by USS Flying Fish and two days later by USS Cavalla in the Philippine Sea. On 20 June, BatDiv 3 and the carrier Chiyoda came under attack by Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive bombers and Avenger torpedo-bombers from the carriers USS Bunker Hill, Monterey and Cabot. Kongō was again untouched though Haruna and Chiyoda were damaged in the disastrous battle. The fleet retired to Nakagusuku Bay, Okinawa.

From 30 June – 7 July 1944,[1] Kongō was drydocked at Kure Naval Yard as her radar and gunnery control was upgraded and 12 triple- and 40 single-mounted 25 mm (1 in) anti-aircraft guns were installed. As a result of the sequence of modifications, her secondary armament consisted at this time of eight 152 mm (6 in) and six dual 127 mm (5 in) guns with a total of 100 25 mm (1 in) AA. Following her undocking, Kongō ferried arms and Army troops to Nakagusuku Bay before returning to Lingga, where she was rejoined by Haruna. She received a final refit in September when 18 more 25 mm (1 in) AA guns were added, bringing the total to 118.

Leyte Gulf

On 22 October 1944, Kongō departed Brunei Bay, Borneo as the flagship of the Second Section of Force "A" of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's First Striking Force, situated behind the First Section in Operation Shō-1.[1] The Second Section consisted of BatDiv 3, four cruisers of CruDiv 7, two cruisers of CruDiv 5 and DesRon 2's 10 destroyers headed by the Noshiro. The resulting series of clashes is known in English as the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in which the Japanese force was greatly outnumbered.

The following day, Force "A" came under attack by two submarines in the Battle of the Palawan Passage. Two cruisers were sunk, though Kongō was unharmed. On 24 October, Force "A" came under attack by over 250 carrier-based aircraft in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea.[1] Musashi was sunk and Haruna was damaged. Kurita ordered Force "A" to back out of the Sibuyan Sea before re-advancing through San Bernardino Strait.

The battle off Samar on 25 October 1944

At 00:30 on 25 October 1944, Force "A" exited San Bernadino Strait and turned south toward Leyte Gulf.[1] Five hours later, Japanese lookouts spotted three carriers, three cruisers and three destroyers at a range of 23 mi (37 km) bearing 60° to port. BatDiv 3 was ordered east to cut off escape but Haruna, her propellers still damaged from the Battle of the Philippine Sea, soon fell behind. At 05:58, Force "A" opened fire on "Taffy 3" (Task Group 38.3), composed of the escort carriers USS St. Lo, White Plains, Kalinin Bay, Fanshaw Bay, Kitkun Bay and Gambier Bay with a screen of three destroyers and four destroyer escorts.

Two minutes later, Kongō began firing her main guns at a range of 15 mi (24 km).[1] At 06:22, the continuous strafing by F4F Wildcats damaged the rangefinder for the main guns. Three minutes after that, Kongō was taken under fire by the destroyer USS Hoel at 14,000 yd (13,000 m). Hoel took a 356 mm (14 in) shell on her bridge but, in return, launched torpedoes at a range 9,000 yd (8,200 m). Around this time, Kongō switched to her secondary guns as the distance rangefinder was not set for such close engagements. At 06:30, Kongō's lookouts spotted four torpedoes from Hoel in the water; she turned hard to port and all torpedoes missed. At 0654, the destroyer USS Heermann fired three torpedoes at Kongō. These torpedoes went past but forced the battleships Yamato and Nagato to flee 16 km (9.9 mi) northward until the torpedoes ran out of fuel. Meanwhile, at 06:55 Kongō scored multiple hits against Gambier Bay.

At about 08:00, Kongō's rangefinder was repaired and she brought under fire destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts.[1] Roberts, already hit by 203 mm (8 in) shells, was devastated by a salvo of 356 mm (14 in) shells and sank at 0912. At 08:13, Kongō evaded two more torpedo tracks. Between 07:55 and 09:10, Force "A" together sank Gambier Bay, destroyers Hoel and USS Johnston and Samuel B. Roberts.

At 08:25, Kurita ordered Force "A" north, but at 10:20 reversed course and headed for Leyte Gulf once again.[1] From 10:30–13:20, the cruisers Chōkai, Chikuma, and Suzuya were disabled and subsequently lost. During this time, from 12:28–12:48, Kongō came under attack by about 20 Helldivers from "Taffy 1" and had five near misses. One near miss starboard amidships dented the side plating and torpedo bulges, causing sea water to contaminate the fuel tanks there. Another near miss slightly bent blades on both starboard propellers. The attacks killed 12 crewmen and injured another 36. One historian notes that Kongō was "heretofore charmed".[3]

With the force heavily bloodied and lacking tactical control, Kurita ordered Force "A" to reverse course again and at 21:00 sailed back through the San Bernardino Strait.[1] Over the course of the day, Kongō had expended 310 356 mm (14 in) rounds (99 Type 3 and 211 Type 1), 347 152 mm (6 in) rounds (170 Type 0 and 177 Mark 4), as well as 2,128 127 mm (5 in) and 50,230 25 mm (1 in) AA rounds.

The next day at about 08:00, while in the Tablas Strait, Force "A" was attacked by 30 Avengers from USS Wasp and Cowpens.[1] This was followed by another wave of about 50 Helldivers and Avengers from USS Hornet, that scored two hits on Yamato, the only battleship not be damaged in the previous battles. At 10:40, about 30 B-24 Liberators of the 13th Army Air Force Far Eastern Air Force out of Morotai attacked. 20 minutes later, 60 aircraft from Task Groups 38.2 and 38.4 (TGs 38.2 and 38.4) attacked, sinking Noshiro. Kongō was not further damaged and the remnants of Force "A" returned to Brunei Bay without further incident.

Sinking

Kongō remained based in Brunei Bay until after a raid by 40 Liberators and 15 P-38 Lightning fighters on 16 November 1944. Much of the fleet used the intervening time for emergency repairs. At 18:30, a task force consisting of BatDiv 1's Yamato BatDiv 3's Kongō and newly reassigned Nagato, all damaged in the Leyte Gulf fighting, with a light cruiser and four destroyers for screen, departed for repairs at Kure. Haruna, as the only battleship in fighting trim, was separated to center the Southern Fleet. The crews of both Kongō and Haruna viewed their separation with some unease; the two ships had never been separated while in a war zone.[3] BatDiv 3 CO Vice Admiral Yoshio Suzuki maintained his flag on Kongō.

On 20 November 1944, the task force entered the Formosa Strait without incident, making a steady 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph) to save fuel. The center line of the formation was composed of the light cruiser Yahagi, followed by battleships Kongō, Nagato and then Yamato. The destroyers Isokaze and Yamakaze patrolled to port, while Urakaze and Yukikaze were to starboard. As night fell, the sky became overcast with 1,372 m (4,500 ft) visibility and fairly calm seas with rising winds. Shortly before midnight, Vice-Admiral Matome Ugaki was called to the bridge of Yamato after enemy radar was detected between 0 and 70°. Without knowing whether the radar was from an enemy plane or submarine, Yamato CO Morishita ordered a course of 0-5-0° with minimal zigzagging in order to get past the unknown source. The column shifted to the new course as midnight passed and Tuesday, 21 November 1944 began. The unknown radar contact appeared to go to port and astern as the fleet moved on. By 02:30, it appeared that the contact was an aircraft, rather than a submarine, in which case the radar would have been expected to stop suddenly as it dived to attack.

The radar contact was in fact the submarine USS Sealion, under Lieutenant Commander Eli Reich. While on patrol off the northern tip of Formosa, radar picked up a three radar pips at the incredibly long range of 40,234 m (44,000 yd), though he had already been detected by Yamato. Reich was at first convinced that Sealion was somehow bouncing radar off the island itself, but at 00:48 radar reported the range at 29,261 m (32,000 yd), stating "Two targets of battleship proportions and two of large cruiser size! Course 060 True! Speed 16 knots (30 km/h)! Not zigging!"[3] (The second "cruiser" was in fact a battleship.) After sending off a contact report to Pearl Harbor, Reich decided to chase and attack on the surface, an unusual decision given the danger of a massive salvo from the battleships if discovered.

Sealion went to full speed to get into attack position and by 01:46 was to the port of the Japanese force in increasing winds and rougher seas. Radar showed a column of cruiser–battleship–battleship–cruiser (actually Yamato). The force was still not zigzagging on course 0-5-7° and Sealion edged out front to perfect attack position by 02:45. Choosing the first battleship as the first target, Sealion came in. Noting that the enemy destroyer contacts were overlapping with the others, Reich set the torpedoes to run at eight feet on the off chance that he might hit a destroyer as well.[1]

At 02:56, Sealion came about to heading 1-6-8° and fired six torpedoes at Kongō at a range of 2,743 m (3,000 yd) before coming about to fire three torpedoes from the stern tubes at the second battleship, Nagato, at 02:59:30 at 2,834 m (3,099 yd). Sealion then escaped due west. At 03:01, Yamato saw two hits on Kongō, though Sealion reported hearing three. Nagato turned hard to port to avoid any other torpedoes and the second salvo went by, only to hit Urakaze. At 03:04, the third torpedo hit Urakaze either in a magazine or torpedo tube, causing massive secondary explosions.[1] Blown apart, Urakaze sank within two minutes with the loss of all her crew. The loss of Urakaze to the starboard of Kongō was misinterpreted in the confusion to mean that the attack had come from the east and Yukikaze charged there to drop depth charges.

Kongō had been hit by two torpedoes: in the port bow chain locker and just aft of port amidships. The second hit had flooded boiler rooms 6 and 8, but she had enough steam pressure to maintain fleet speed of 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph). However, Kongō began to assume a 15° list to port.[1] The situation regarding Urakaze was confused; so fast had she disappeared that at least some of the fleet did not appear to realize that she was missing. However, the situation on Kongō appeared under control. Once Kongō reported that she could maintain speed, the decision was made to continue and try to escape the submarine. Some of the crew even returned to their bunks to sleep.

At 04:05, the fleet began to detect radar from Sealion. Sealion had also not realized that Urakaze had been sunk and Reich thought that his low depth torpedoes had perhaps only dented the battleships. He pushed Sealion at 17 kn (31 km/h; 20 mph) to get back into attack position in worsening seas that were at Force 5 or 6. The fleet could detect Sealion and began to zigzag at about 04:06.[1]

However, Kongō was having its own problems. The decision to continue at cruising speed had led to an inrush of water that continued to crush bulkheads. The charge into high seas also progressively widened the hole in the bow. Despite divers doing perilous repairs in the flooded and torn compartments, Kongō was forced to stop zigzagging and then slow to 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph). As she did, she assumed the last position in the column with Sealion still in pursuit. However, the list to port had been checked at 12° and the fleet was guardedly optimistic that damage control was holding its own against the onrushing water. Nevertheless, reports soon came in of leaks causing progressive flooding and the list continued to 14° before checking again. Unsettled, Captain Shimazaki requested permission to leave the fleet and make for port at Keelung, 120 km (65 nmi; 75 mi) away. Hamakaze and Isokaze were detached to provide protection and the fleet split at 04:50, with Kongō listing at 15° and making 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph).[1]

The crew seemed unaware that the ship was critically damaged, with the Chief Navigator predicting that they would make port in six hours. Soon after leaving the fleet, the list grew to more than 20° and Shimazaki ordered all hands to move to starboard as the list was causing difficulty in maintaining a heading. To make matters worse, the radar contact of Sealion showed that it was following Kongō rather than the main force. Regardless, Sealion was not the main danger. Some 15 minutes after separating, Kongō was leaning at 45°. The engine rooms began to flood and by 05:18 the ship was going dead in the water. Confirmation that Kongō was in fact sinking, if any was needed at this point, came with word that the Deputy Damage Control Officer had committed suicide over his failure. Shimazaki ordered all hands to the deck and to prepare to Abandon Ship. The ensign was lowered as all hands saluted and an orderly was sent to get the Imperial Portrait of Hirohito.

At 05:22, Shimazaki gave the order to Abandon Ship and the crew began to go over the side. Hamakaze and Isokaze, ignoring the imminent danger of the approaching Sealion, approached Kongō from the high starboard side to gather as many crew before they went into the high dark seas. Submariners on Sealion looked on in amazement as the radar contacts stopped moving. The crew of Kongō scrambled off the side as she began to roll and the list grew to more than 60°. Calamity then struck at 05:24 as the forward 356 mm (14 in) shell magazines ignited in four massive explosions throwing parts of ship and men into the sky.[1] Reich wrote "sky brilliantly illuminated – it looked like a sunset at night".[3] The two destroyers were saved from the fragmentation by the high side of Kongō, but the explosion sent the remains of the battleship under the waves immediately. The destroyers set about rescuing survivors, unaware that Reich had set off in pursuit of the other battleships rather than try for the lesser destroyers. Helped by the dawn that arrived an hour later, 13 officers and 224 petty officers and men survived from Kongō. About 1,250 had died, including Vice Admiral Suzuki and the CO, Rear Admiral Shimazaki. The Imperial Portrait was not recovered.

Kongō was the only battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy to be sunk by a submarine, and the last battleship ever sunk by a submarine. Unusually, a crewmember of the Sealion had placed a portable film optical recording machine by the intercom of the conning tower when ordered to battle stations. The result is thought to be the only surviving sound recording of a submarine attack upon warships during World War II.[4]

Other ships

Commanding Officers

  • Chief Equipping Officer – Capt. Naoe Nakano – 1 December 1912 – 16 August 1913
  • Capt. Naoe Nakano – 16 August – 1 December 1913
  • Capt. Shibakichi Yamanaka – 1 December 1913 – 1 December 1914
  • Capt. Shuzo Matsuoka – 1 December 1914 – 13 December 1915
  • Capt. Chugo Arakawa – 13 December 1915 – 1 December 1916
  • Capt. Hansaku Yoshioka – 1 December 1916 – 1 December 1917
  • Capt. Kanamaru Kiyotsugu – 1 December 1917 – 9 April 1918
  • Capt. Kojuro Nozaki – 9 April 1918 – 20 November 1919
  • Capt. Tadatsugu Taijiri – 20 November 1919 – 12 November 1920
  • Capt. Kametaro Muta – 12 November 1920 – 20 November 1921
  • Capt. Kazu Takemitsu – 20 November 1921 – 1 December 1922
  • Capt. Tachiki Seki – 1 December 1922 – 20 November 1923
  • Capt. Koichi Kishii – 20 November 1923 – 1 November 1924
  • Capt. Saburo Yasumi – 1 November 1924 – 1 December 1925
  • Capt. Hajime Matsushita – 1 December 1925 – 1 December 1927
  • Capt. Zengo Yoshida – 1 December 1927 – 10 December 1928
  • Capt. Kenichi Ikenaka – 10 December 1928 – 1 December 1930
  • Capt. Keinosuke Ikeda – 1 December 1930 – 1 December 1931
  • Capt. Toshiu Higurashi – 1 December 1931 – 1 December 1932
  • Capt. Nobutake Kondō – 1 December 1932 – 15 November 1933
  • Capt. Taichi Miki – 15 November 1933 – 15 November 1934
  • Capt. Kaneji Kishimoto – 15 November 1934 – 15 November 1935
  • Capt. Tamazo Sugikara – 15 November 1935 – 1 December 1936
  • Capt. Eijiro Matsuura – 1 December 1936 – 1 December 1937
  • Capt. Takeo Kurita – 1 December 1937 – 15 November 1938
  • Capt. Yoshio Suzuki – 15 November 1938 – 20 October 1939
  • Capt. Shōji Nishimura – 20 October – 15 November 1939
  • Capt. Raizō Tanaka – 15 November 1939 – 15 April 1941
  • Capt. Morikazu Osugi – 15 April – 20 August 1941
  • Capt. / RADM Tomiji Koyanagi – 20 August 1941 – 16 December 1942 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November 1942.)
  • Capt. Baron Matsuji Ijuin – 16 December 1942 – 17 July 1943
  • Capt. / RADM / VADM* Toshio Shimazaki – 17 July 1943 – 21 November 1944 (KIA; promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 May 1944; posthumous promotion to Vice Admiral.)

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Hackett, Bob; Sander Kingsepp and Lars Ahlberg. (1996–2009) Senkan! IJN Kongo: Tabular Record of Movement Combinedfleet.com. Retrieved on December 18, 2009.
  2. ^ Jane's Battleships of the 20th century
  3. ^ a b c d The Loss of Battleship KONGO: As told in Chapter "November Woes" of "Total Eclipse: The Last Battles of the IJN – Leyte to Kure 1944 to 1945", 1998
  4. ^ Sound recording of attack on Kongo and accompanying warships by Sealion, Historic Naval Sound and Video
  • Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II. Studio. 1989. ISBN 0-851-70494-9.  
  • Taylor, Michael J.H. (1990). Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I. Studio. ISBN 1-85170-378-0.  

External links

Coordinates: 26°09′N 121°23′E / 26.15°N 121.383°E / 26.15; 121.383



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