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Battleship Nagato
Career Japanese Navy Ensign
Laid down: 28 August 1917
Launched: 9 November 1919
Commissioned: 15 November 1920
Struck: 15 September 1945
Fate: Sunk during the Baker phase of Operation Crossroads Bikini nuclear test, 25 July 1946.
General characteristics
Displacement: 42,850 tons wartime full load (32,720 standard)
Length: 221.03 m (725 ft 2 in) 215.79m (708 ft) at launch
Beam: 34.59 m (113 ft 6 in) 29m (95 ft) at launch
Draught: 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in)
Propulsion: Geared turbines, 4 shafts, 80000 hp (60 MW)
Speed: 27 knots (50 km/h)
Range: 5,500 nautical miles at 16 knots (10,200 km at 30 km/h)
Complement: 1,368
Armament: Eight 16.1 inch (410 mm) guns
Twenty (later eighteen) 5.5 inch (140 mm) guns
Eight 5 inch (127 mm) anti-aircraft guns
Up to 98 25 mm AA guns
Aircraft carried: 3

Nagato (Japanese: 長門, named after Nagato province) was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the lead ship of her class. She was the first battleship in the world to mount 16 inch class (actually 16.1 inch, or 410 mm) guns, and her armour protection and speed made her one of the most powerful capital ships at the time of her commissioning.

She was the flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto during the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the war she saw action only once, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, due to the Japanese Navy's strategy of keeping major units in reserve for a decisive battle.

Contents

Construction

Line drawing of Nagato as she appeared in 1944

Nagato was laid down at the Kure Naval Arsenal on 28 August 1917, launched on 9 November 1919, and completed on 15 November 1920.

She underwent a major refit in 1936, removing her coal-burning boilers and upgrading her armour and anti-aircraft guns.

World War II

At the outbreak of World War II, Nagato, under the command of Captain Yano Hideo, and her sister ship Mutsu formed Battle Division 1. Nagato was the flagship of the Combined Fleet, flying the flag of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. On 2 December 1941 Nagato sent the signal Niitakayama nobore 1208 "Climb Mount Niitaka on 12/08 (Japanese Time)" that committed the Carrier Strike Force to the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan to the Pacific War.

On 12 February 1942 Admiral Yamamoto transferred his flag to the new battleship Yamato.

Nagato sailed with the Yamato, Mutsu, Hosho, Sendai, nine destroyers and four auxiliary ships as Admiral Yamamoto's Main Body during the Battle of Midway in June 1942 but saw no action. She returned the survivors of Kaga to Japan.

In 1943, under the command of Captain Hayakawa Mikio, Nagato was based at Truk in the Caroline Islands. After the evacuation of Truk in February 1944, she was based at Lingga near Singapore.

Leyte Gulf

In June 1944 she took part in Operation A-Go, an attack on Allied forces in the Mariana Islands. In the battle of the Philippine Sea on 19 June 1944 she came under air attack but was not damaged.

In October 1944 she took part in Operation Shō-1, an attack on the Allied landings on Leyte. On 24 October 1944 in the battle of the Sibuyan Sea Nagato was attacked by several waves of American dive-bombers. At 14:16 she was hit by two bombs dropped by planes from Franklin and Cabot. The first bomb disabled a number of guns and damaged the air intake to the No. 1 boiler room, stopping one shaft for 25 minutes until the air intake was cleared. The second bomb hit the canteen and forward radio room, killing 52 and wounding 106. On 25 October the Central Force (including battleships Yamato, Nagato, Kongō, and Haruna) passed the San Bernardino Strait and headed for Leyte Gulf. In the battle off Samar, Nagato engaged the escort carriers and destroyers of the US Task Group 77.4.3. At 06:01 she opened fire on St. Lo, the first time she fired her guns at an enemy ship, but missed. At 06:54 the destroyer Heermann fired a spread of torpedoes at Haruna; the torpedoes missed Haruna and headed for Yamato and Nagato on parallel courses. The two battleships were forced to turn away from the action to the north for 10 miles (16 km) until the torpedoes ran out of fuel. After returning to the action, Nagato continued to engage the American carriers, firing 45 16.1 inch (410 mm) shells and 92 5.5 inch (140 mm) shells.

At 09:10 Admiral Takeo Kurita ordered the fleet to break off the engagement and head north. At 10:20 he ordered the fleet south again, but as the fleet came under increasingly severe air attack he ordered a retreat again at 12:36. At 12:43 Nagato was hit on her bow by two bombs but the damage was not severe.

As it retreated on 26 October the Japanese fleet came under continuous air attack. Nagato was attacked by dive-bombers from Hornet and hit by four bombs, suffering 38 killed and 105 wounded. In the course of the day she fired 99 16.1 inch (410 mm) shells and 653 5.5 inch (140 mm) shells.

On 25 November 1944 Nagato arrived at Yokosuka, Japan for repairs. Lack of fuel and materials meant that she could not be brought back into service, and in February 1945 she was reassigned as a coastal defence ship. In June 1945 her secondary and anti-aircraft armament were moved ashore. On 18 July 1945 she was attacked at Yokusuka by fighter bombers and torpedo bombers from Essex, Randolph, Bennington, Shangri-La and Belleau Wood and hit by three bombs, one hitting the bridge and killing her commanding officer, Rear Admiral Otsuka Miki.

After the War

Nagato in 1946; note the dilapidated condition of the ship

Bikini Atoll

On 30 August 1945, following the Japanese surrender, Nagato, the last surviving Japanese battleship, was boarded and secured by American sailors from the ship USS Horace A. Bass (LPR-124).

In March 1946 she was taken to Bikini Atoll for Operation Crossroads, a series of atomic bomb tests. On this, her last voyage, she was commanded by Captain W. J. Whipple with a United States Navy crew of about 180 men. She was in such poor repair that on the way she had to be towed to Eniwetok Atoll for emergency repairs.

In the first test (ABLE, an airburst) on 1 July 1946 she was 1,640 yards from ground zero and was not severely damaged. In the second test (BAKER, an underwater explosion) on 25 July 1946 she was severely damaged, and eventually capsized and sank five days later.

The Times has named the Nagato as one of the top ten wreck diving sites in the world.[1]

Flag of Nagato

Japanese battleship Nagato after the Baker blast. Arthur Beaumont, Watercolor, 1946.

The Naval Ensign of Nagato was taken by a commander of the US Navy. It was put on an antique appraisal show, Nandemo Kanteidan[2], by his daughter, and broadcast on TV Tokyo in September 2005. The Ensign was evaluated at 10 million yen. After the show, the host of the show Kouji Ishizaka bought the Ensign for 10 million yen and donated it to the Yamato Museum in Kure, Hiroshima in September 2006.[3]

Replica in Tora! Tora! Tora!

In Tora! Tora! Tora!, a film depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events that led to it, a large, accurate fullscale replica of Nagato was built, which is first seen in the opening credits of the film.

Commanding Officers

  • Chief Equipping Officer - Capt. Nobutaro Iida - 20 November 1919 - 25 November 1920
  • Capt. Nobutaro Iida - 25 November 1920 - 1 December 1921
  • Capt. Kanari Kabayama - 1 December 1921 - 10 November 1922
  • Capt. Yoshio Takahashi - 10 November 1922 - 1 December 1923
  • Capt. Seizo Sakonji - 1 December 1923 - 1 December 1924
  • Capt. Susumu Nakajima - 1 December 1924 - 22 August 1925
  • Capt. Masaharu Osoekawa - 22 August 1925 - 1 December 1926
  • Capt. Kiyoshi Hasegawa - 1 December 1926 - 1 December 1927
  • Capt. Shigeru Matushita - 1 December 1927 - 10 December 1928
  • Capt. Tsugumatsu Inoue - 10 December 1928 - 30 November 1929
  • Capt. Kichijiro Hamada - 30 November 1929 - 1 December 1930
  • Capt. Kamezaburo Nakajima - 1 December 1930 - 10 October 1931
  • Capt. Keitaro Hara - 10 October 1931 - 1 December 1931
  • Capt. Teijiro Sugisaka - 1 December 1931 - 4 March 1932
  • Capt. Minoru Sonoda - 4 March 1932 - 1 December 1932
  • Capt. Sekizo Uno - 1 December 1932 - 15 November 1933
  • Capt. Kenichi Sada - 15 November 1933 - 15 November 1934
  • Capt. Katsumi Yukishita - 15 November 1934 - 15 July 1935
  • Capt. Jiro Saito - 15 July 1935 - 1 December 1936
  • Capt. Tomoshige Samejima - 1 December 1936 - 1 December 1937
  • Capt. Torahiko Nakajima - 1 December 1937 - 15 November 1938
  • Capt. Kakuji Kakuta - 15 November 1938 - 15 December 1938
  • Capt. Shigeru Fukudome - 15 December 1938 - 5 November 1939
  • Capt. Sakae Tokunaga - 5 November 1939 - 15 October 1940
  • Capt. Shinzo Onishi - 15 October 1940 - 11 August 1941
  • Capt. Hideo Yano - 11 August 1941 - 10 November 1942
  • Capt. Sojiro Hisamune - 10 November 1942 - 2 August 1943
  • Capt. / RADM Mikio Hayakawa - 2 August 1943 - 25 December 1943 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 1 November 1943.)
  • Capt. / RADM Yuji Kobe - 25 December 1943 - 20 December 1944 (Promoted to Rear Admiral on 15 October 1944.)
  • Capt. Kiyomi Shibuya - 20 December 1944 - 27 April 1945
  • RADM / VADM* Miki Otsuka - 27 April 1945 - 18 July 1945 (KIA)
  • RADM Masamichi Ikeguchi - 18 July 1945 - 20 August 1945
  • Capt. Shuichi Sugino - 20 August 1945 - 2 September 1945

See also

References

External links








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