China Area Fleet

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The China Area Fleet (支那方面艦隊 Shina Hōmen Kantai?) was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy organized after the Battle of Shanghai. The next higher organization was Imperial General Headquarters, and it had the same organizational level as the Combined Fleet. This article handles their predecessor fleet the Southern Qing Fleet (南清艦隊 Nanshin Kantai?), China Expeditionary Fleet (遣支艦隊 Kenshi Kantai?) and 1st/2nd Expeditionary Fleet (第一/第二遣外艦隊 Daiichi/Daini Kengai Kantai?) also.

Organizations of the China Area Fleet and underling fleets[edit]

China Area Fleet[edit]

  • Structure (extract)
Date Higher unit Lower units, vessels and elements
20 October 1937 (original) Imperial General Headquarters 3rd Fleet, 4th Fleet,
1st Carrier Division, 2nd Carrier Division, 3rd Carrier Division, 1st Combined Air Group, 2nd Combined Air Group
1 February 1938 Imperial General Headquarters 3rd Fleet, 4th Fleet, 5th Fleet
15 November 1939 Imperial General Headquarters 1st China Expeditionary Fleet, 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet, 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet,
13th Division, 2nd Combined Air Group, Shanghai Area Base Force, Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force
10 December 1941 Imperial General Headquarters Coast defence ship Izumo, 1st China Expeditionary Fleet, 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet, 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet,
13th Gunboat Division, 14th Gunboat Division, 1st Motor gunboat Division, 2nd Motor gunboat Division,
Shanghai Area Base Force, Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force, Zhōushān Island Guard Unit, Shanghai Port office
1 April 1943 Imperial General Headquarters Cruiser Izumo, 1st China Expeditionary Fleet, 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet,
Qingdao Area Special Base Force, Shanghai Area Base Force, Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force
1 April 1944 Imperial General Headquarters Cruiser Izumo, 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet,
Qingdao Area Special Base Force, Shanghai Area Base Force, Yangtze River Area Base Force, Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force,
Shanghai Naval Air Group, Qingdao Naval Air Group, 256th Naval Air Group, 2nd Weather Observation Unit
1 June 1945 Supreme Headquarters of the Navy 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet, Qingdao Area Special Base Force, Shanghai Area Base Force, Yangtze River Area Base Force,
Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force
9 September 1945 Surrendered.
  • Commander in chief
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Admiral Kiyoshi Hasegawa 20 October 1937 Commander in chief of the 3rd Fleet
2 Vice-Admiral
Admiral
Koshirō Oikawa 25 April 1938
15 November 1939
Commander in chief of the 3rd Fleet

3 Vice-Admiral
Admiral
Shigetarō Shimada 1 May 1940
15 November 1940
4 Vice-Admiral
Admiral
Mineichi Koga 1 September 1941
1 May 1942
5 Admiral Zengo Yoshida 10 November 1942
6 Admiral Nobutake Kondō 1 December 1943
7 Vice-Admiral Ryōzō Fukuda 15 May 1945
  • Chief of staff
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Rear-Admiral Rokuzō Sugiyama 20 October 1937 Chief of staff of the 3rd Fleet
2 Rear-Admiral Jin'ichi Kusaka 25 April 1938 Chief of staff of the 3rd Fleet
3 Rear-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Shigeyoshi Inoue 23 October 1939
15 November 1939
Chief of staff of the 3rd Fleet

4 Rear-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Denshichi Ōkawachi 1 October 1940
15 November 1940
5 Vice-Admiral Minoru Tayui 16 March 1942
6 Vice-Admiral Kanji Ugaki 1 September 1943
7 Vice-Admiral Naomasa Sakonjō 15 December 1944

1st China Expeditionary Fleet[edit]

The 1st China Expeditionary Fleet (第一遣支艦隊 Dai-Ichi Kenshi Kantai?) was reorganized from the 3rd Fleet on 15 November 1939. Their role was the guard of the coast in China at first, however, it changed for the guard in the down stream area of the Yangtze River. Describe 3rd Fleet, 1st China Expeditionary Fleet and successor unit the Yangtze River Area Base Force (揚子江方面根拠地隊 Yōsukō Hōmen Konkyochitai?) in this section.

  • Structure (extract)
Date Higher unit Unit name Lower units, vessels and elements
2 February 1932 (original) Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff 3rd Fleet Coast defence ship Izumo, Cruiser Ōi, Tatsuta,
Collier Muroto, Noshima, Oiler Notoro, Naruto, Food supply ship Mamiya,
1st Expeditionary Fleet, 2nd Expeditionary Fleet, 3rd Division, 1st Carrier Division,
1st Destroyer Squadron, 26th Destroyer Division
20 October 1937 China Area Fleet 3rd Fleet Coast defence ship Izumo, 11th Division, 3rd Destroyer Squadron,
Shanghai Special Naval Landing Force
15 November 1939 China Area Fleet 1st China Expeditionary Fleet
(renamed and reorganized)
11th Division, Hankou Area Base Force, Jiujiang Base Unit
15 November 1940 China Area Fleet 1st China Expeditionary Fleet Gunboat Ataka, Seta, Hira, Katada, Hozu, Atami, Futami, Fushimi, Sumida,
Hankou Area Base Force
20 August 1943 China Area Fleet Yangtze River Area Base Force
(renamed and reorganized)
Gunboat Fushimi, Sumida, Seta, Hira, Katada, Hozu, Atami, Futami, Suma, Tatara, Narumi,
Jiujiang Guard Unit
1 June 1945 China Area Fleet Yangtze River Area Base Force Gunboat Fushimi, Sumida, 21st Gunboat Division, 22nd Gunboat Division, 23rd Gunboat Division,
24th Gunboat Division, Jiujiang Guard Unit
9 September 1945 Surrendered.
  • Commander in chief (3rd Fleet and 1st China Expeditionary Fleet) and commander (Yangtze River Area Base Force)
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Vice-Admiral Kichisaburō Nomura 2 February 1932
2 Vice-Admiral Seizō Sakonji 28 June 1932
3 Vice-Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai 1 December 1932
4 Vice-Admiral Shinjirō Imamura 15 September 1933
5 Vice-Admiral Gengo Hyakutake 15 November 1934
6 Vice-Admiral Koshirō Oikawa 1 December 1935
7 Vice-Admiral Kiyoshi Hasegawa 1 December 1936
20 October 1937

Commander in chief of the China Area Fleet
8 Vice-Admiral Koshirō Oikawa 25 April 1938 Commander in chief of the China Area Fleet
9 Vice-Admiral Umatarō Tanimoto 15 November 1939 Commander of the 11th Division
10 Vice-Admiral Boshirō Hosogaya 15 November 1940
11 Vice-Admiral Marquis Teruhisa Komatsu 5 July 1941
12 Vice-Admiral Kakusaburō Makita 14 February 1942
13 Vice-Admiral Yoshikazu Endō 9 March 1943
14 Vice-Admiral Ichirō Ōno 20 August 1943
15 Vice-Admiral Kōichirō Hatakeyama 20 March 1944
16 Vice-Admiral Torao Sawada 21 November 1944
  • Chief of staff (3rd Fleet and 1st China Expeditionary Fleet)
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Rear-Admiral Shigetarō Shimada 2 February 1932
2 Captain
Rear-Admiral
Shigeru Kikuno 28 June 1932
1 December 1932
3 Rear-Admiral Seizaburō Mitsui 1 April 1933
4 Captain Shirō Takasu 15 November 1933
5 Captain
Rear-Admiral
Eijirō Kondō 15 November 1934
15 November 1935
6 Rear-Admiral Seiichi Iwamura 2 December 1935
7 Captain
Rear-Admiral

Rokuzō Sugiyama 16 November 1936
1 December 1936
20 October 1937


Chief of staff of the China Area Fleet
8 Rear-Admiral Jin'ichi Kusaka 25 April 1938 Chief of staff of the China Area Fleet
9 Rear-Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue 23 October 1939 Chief of staff of the China Area Fleet
10 Rear-Admiral Shigenori Horiuchi 15 November 1939
11 Captain
Rear-Admiral


Shin'ichi Ichise 15 October 1940
15 November 1940
11 August 1941
15 January 1942


Commander of the Hankou Area Base Force

12 Rear-Admiral Gunji Kogure 25 July 1942
x Demotion to Area Base Force. 20 August 1943

2nd China Expeditionary Fleet[edit]

The 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet (第二遣支艦隊 Dai-Ni Kenshi Kantai?) was reorganized from the 5th Fleet on 15 November 1939. The 5th Fleet was reinforcements for 3rd Fleet and 4th Fleet. Their role was the guard and invasion of South China. Describe 5th Fleet and 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet in this section. The 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet kept appearance of a fleet until the end of war.

  • Structure (extract)
Date Higher unit Unit name Lower units, vessels and elements
1 February 1938 (original) China Area Fleet 5th Fleet 9th Division, 10th Division, 3rd Carrier Division, 4th Carrier Division, 5th Destroyer Squadron
15 December 1938 China Area Fleet 5th Fleet 9th Division, 5th Destroyer Squadron, C.M. Seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru,
3rd Combined Air Group, 14th Air Group, 16th Air Group, 2nd Base Force, 3rd Base Force
15 November 1939 China Area Fleet 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet
(renamed and reorganized)
15th Division, 3rd Combined Air Group, Xiamen Area Base Force, Guangdong Area Base Force, Hainan Area Base Force
10 December 1941 China Area Fleet 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet 15th Division, Xiamen Base Force, Guangdong Base Force
1 January 1944 China Area Fleet 2nd China Expeditionary Fleet Gunboat Saga, Hashidate, Hong Kong Special Base Force, Hong Kong Port office, Guangdong Guard Unit, Hainan Guard Unit,
254th Naval Air Group, 15th Guard Unit, 16th Guard Unit,
4th Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force, 1st Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force, 1st Maizuru Special Naval Landing Force
9 September 1945 Surrendered.
  • Commander in chief
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Vice-Admiral Kōichi Shiozawa 1 February 1938
2 Vice-Admiral Nobutake Kondō 15 December 1938
3 Vice-Admiral Shirō Takasu 29 September 1939
4 Vice-Admiral Yorio Sawamoto 15 October 1940
5 Vice-Admiral Masaichi Niimi 4 April 1941
6 Vice-Admiral Kiyoshi Hara 14 July 1942
7 Vice-Admiral Daisuke Soejima 21 June 1943
8 Vice-Admiral Ruitarō Fujita 25 April 1945
  • Chief of staff
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Rear-Admiral Minoru Tayui 1 February 1938
2 Rear-Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi 15 December 1938
3 Rear-Admiral Chūichi Hara 15 November 1939
4 Captain
Rear-Admiral

Yasuo Yasuba 13 August 1941
15 October 1941
10 March 1942


Commander of the Hong Kong Special Base Force
5 Captain
Rear-Admiral
Chōzaemon Obata 1 September 1942
1 November 1942
Commander of the Hong Kong Special Base Force
6 Captain
Rear-Admiral
Yuzuru Ōkuma 19 October 1943
1 May 1944
Commander of the Hong Kong Special Base Force

3rd China Expeditionary Fleet[edit]

The 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet (第三遣支艦隊 Dai-San Kenshi Kantai?) was reorganized from the 4th Fleet on 15 November 1939. The 4th Fleet was reinforcements for 3rd Fleet. Their role was the guard in Bohai Sea. Describe 4th Fleet and 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet in this section. The 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet was specialization to guard unit for Qingdao and become extinct.

  • Structure (extract)
Date Higher unit Unit name Lower units, vessels and elements
20 October 1937 (original) China Area Fleet 4th Fleet Cruiser Ashigara, 9th Division, 14th Division, 4th Destroyer Squadron, 5th Destroyer Squadron
15 December 1938 China Area Fleet 4th Fleet 12th Division, 1st Combined Special Naval Landing Force
15 November 1939 China Area Fleet 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet
(renamed and reorganized)
12th Division, Qingdao Area Special Base Force
10 December 1941 China Area Fleet 3rd China Expeditionary Fleet Coast defence ship Iwate, 11th Torpedo boat Division, Qingdao Area Special Base Force
10 April 1942 Dissolved and reorganized to Qingdao Area Special Base Force.
  • Commander in chief
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Vice-Admiral Soemu Toyoda 20 October 1937
2 Vice-Admiral Masaharu Hibino 15 November 1938
3 Vice-Admiral Naokuni Nomura 15 November 1939
4 Vice-Admiral Mitsumi Shimizu 30 September 1940
5 Vice-Admiral Rokuzō Sugiyama 5 July 1941
6 Vice-Admiral Shiro Kawase 16 December 1941
  • Chief of staff
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Captain
Rear-Admiral
Masami Kobayashi 20 October 1937
1 December 1937
2 Captain
Rear-Admiral
Arata Oka 1 September 1938
15 November 1938
3 Rear-Admiral Takeo Tada 15 November 1939
4 Captain Shigeji Kaneko 8 August 1940
10 April 1941

Commander of the Qingdao Area Special Base Force
5 Captain Masaki Ogata 24 May 1941 Commander of the Qingdao Area Special Base Force
6 Captain Morikazu Ōsugi 20 August 1941
15 January 1942
Commander of the Qingdao Area Special Base Force
Commander of the Qingdao Area Special Base Force and Qingdao Guard Unit

Organizations of pre-China Area Fleet[edit]

Describe about pre-China Area Fleet in this section. The Southern Qing Fleet, China Expeditionary Fleet, 1st Expeditionary Fleet and 2nd Expeditionary Fleet were ancestor of China Area Fleet.

Southern Qing Fleet[edit]

The Southern Qing Fleet (南清艦隊 Nanshin Kantai?) was organized after the Russo-Japanese War. They were reinforced by Xinhai Revolution in 1911, however, Beiyang Government declared neutrality in World War I. All gunboats were detained, and Southern Qing Fleet became extinct before long.

  • Structure (extract)
Date Higher unit Unit name Lower units, vessels and elements
20 December 1905 (original) Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff Southern Qing Fleet Cruiser Takachiho, Chitose, Gunboat Uji, Sumida
22 November 1906 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff Southern Qing Fleet Cruiser Takachiho, Akitsushima, Gunboat Uji, Sumida, Fushimi
24 December 1908 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff 3rd Fleet
(renamed)
Cruiser Akashi, Otowa, Gunboat Uji, Sumida, Fushimi
1 December 1911 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff 3rd Fleet Cruiser Chiyoda, Niitaka, Suma, Dispatch vessel Mogami, Chihaya, Tatsuta, Gunboat Uji, Sumida, Fushimi, Toba
5 February 1915 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff 3rd Fleet Cruiser Kasuga, Tsushima, Akitsushima
23 December 1915 Dissolved.
  • Commander
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Rear-Admiral Kunikane Taketomi 20 December 1905
2 Rear-Admiral Chikataka Tamari 22 November 1906
3 Rear-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Izō Teragaki 22 November 1906
1 December 1909
4 Rear-Admiral Reijirō Kawashima 1 December 1910
5 Rear-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Matahachirō Nawa 20 April 1912
1 December 1912
6 Rear-Admiral Mitsukane Tsuchiya 25 March 1914
7 Vice-Admiral Takeshi Takarabe 5 February 1915
  • Chief of staff
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Captain Hisatsune Iida 13 September 1913
1 December 1913
Newly established
Commanding officer of the cruiser Kasagi
x Chief of staff was abolished. 27 May 1914
2 Commander Yasuhira Yoshikawa 8 August 1914
x Chief of staff was abolished. 1 December 1914

China Expeditionary Fleet/1st Expeditionary Fleet[edit]

The 1st Expeditionary Fleet (第一遣外艦隊 Dai-Ichi Kengai Kantai?) was reorganized on 9 August 1919 from China Expeditionary Fleet (遣支艦隊 Kenshi Kantai?). Their ancestor was 7th Division (第七戦隊 Dai-Nana Sentai?) under World War I. They became 11th Division only for gunboats and became extinct.

  • Structure (extract)
Date Higher unit Unit name Lower units, vessels and elements
1 December 1917 (original) 3rd Fleet 7th Division Cruiser Chitose, Gunboat Uji, Toba, Sumida, Fushimi
10 August 1918 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff China Expeditionary Fleet
(renamed)
Cruiser Chitose, Gunboat Saga, Uji, Toba, Sumida, Fushimi
9 August 1919 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff 1st Expeditionary Fleet
(renamed)
Cruiser Suma, Gunboat Yodo, Saga, Uji, Toba, Sumida, Fushimi, 29th Destroyer Division
1 December 1924 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff 1st Expeditionary Fleet Cruiser Tone, Gunboat Ataka, Saga, Toba, Sumida, Fushimi, Seta, Hira, Hozu
30 November 1929 Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff 1st Expeditionary Fleet Cruiser Hirado, Yahagi, Gunboat Ataka, Saga, Toba, Sumida, Fushimi, Seta, Hira, Katada, Hozu,
Destroyer Urakaze
2 February 1932 3rd Fleet 1st Expeditionary Fleet Cruiser Hirado, Tsushima, Tenryū, Minelayer Tokiwa, Gunboat Ataka, Uji, Toba, Sumida, Fushimi,
Seta, Hira, Katada, Hozu, Atami, 24th Destroyer Division, Destroyer Urakaze
20 May 1933 3rd Fleet 11th Division
(renamed)
Cruiser Tsushima, Gunboat Ataka, Uji, Toba, Sumida, Fushimi, Seta, Hira, Katada, Hozu,
Atami, Futami, 24th Destroyer Division, Destroyer Urakaze
15 December 1938 3rd Fleet 11th Division Gunboat Ataka, Toba, Seta, Hira, Katada, Hozu, Atami, Futami, Destroyer Tsuga, Kuri, Hasu,
1st Torpedo Boat Division
15 November 1939 1st China Expeditionary Fleet 11th Division Gunboat Ataka, Toba, Seta, Hira, Katada, Hozu, Atami, Futami, Fushimi
15 November 1940 Dissolved.
  • Commander
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
x Vacant post 1 December 1917
1 Rear-Admiral Toyokazu Yamaoka 15 December 1917
2 Rear-Admiral
Vice-Admiral
Masujirō Yoshida 8 November 1919
1 December 1920
3 Rear-Admiral Kenzō Kobayashi 1 May 1922
4 Rear-Admiral Kichisaburō Nomura 15 September 1923
5 Rear-Admiral Osami Nagano 20 April 1925
6 Rear-Admiral Jirō Araki 20 August 1926
7 Rear-Admiral Wataru Ugawa 1 December 1927
8 Rear-Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai 10 December 1928
9 Rear-Admiral Kōichi Shiozawa 1 December 1930
10 Rear-Admiral Tsuneyoshi Sakano 6 June 1932
11 Rear-Admiral Teijirō Sugisaka 15 November 1933
12 Rear-Admiral Masaharu Hibino 2 December 1935
13 Rear-Admiral Umatarō Tanimoto 1 December 1936
14 Rear-Admiral Eijirō Kondō 1 December 1937
15 Rear-Admiral Rokuzō Sugiyama 15 December 1938
16 Vice-Admiral Umatarō Tanimoto 15 November 1939 Commander in chief of the 1st China Expeditionary Fleet

2nd Expeditionary Fleet[edit]

The 2nd Expeditionary Fleet (第二遣外艦隊 Dai-Ni Kengai Kantai?) was organized on 16 May 1927 for reinforcements for 1st Expeditionary Fleet. Their role was the guard of Northern China.

  • Structure (extract)
Date Higher unit Lower units, vessels and elements
16 May 1927 (original) Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff Cruiser Hirado, Tsushima, 9th Destroyer Division
2 February 1932 3rd Fleet Cruiser Kuma, Coast defence ship Yakumo, 13th Destroyer Division, 16th Destroyer Division
20 April 1933 Dissolved.
  • Commander
Rank Name Date Note, additional post
1 Rear-Admiral Susumu Nakajima 16 May 1927
2 Rear-Admiral Kin'ichi Mukōda 1 April 1928
3 Rear-Admiral Kiyohiro Ijichi 10 December 1928
4 Rear-Admiral Shizue Tsuda 21 May 1930

Bibliography[edit]

  • Naval Minister's Secretariat/Ministry of the Navy (keep by "Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR)". , National Archives of Japan)
    • Monograph: Year of 1900 - Extract of naval war history of Qing Incident, each volume
    • Fleet boat division organization and warship torpedo boat deployment, each volume
    • Vessels boat service list, each volume
  • Senshi Sōsho each volume, Asagumo Simbun (Japan)
  • Rekishi Dokuhon, Special issue No. 33 Overview of admirals of the Imperial Japanese Navy, Shin-Jinbutsuōraisha, 1999
  • The Japanese Modern Historical Manuscripts Association, Organizations, structures and personnel affairs of the Imperial Japanese Army & Navy, University of Tokyo Press, 1971 ISBN 978-4-13-036009-8
  • The Maru Special series each volume, "Ushio Shobō".  (Japan)
  • Ships of the World series each volume, "Kaijinsha". , (Japan)