3rd Fleet (Imperial Japanese Navy)

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The 3rd Fleet (第三艦隊 Dai-san Kantai?) was a fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy (OJN), which was created, and subsequently disbanded on six separate occasions and revived on five separate occasions.

History[edit]

Russo-Japanese War[edit]

First established on 28 December 1903, the 3rd Fleet was created by the Imperial General Headquarters as an administrative unit to manage vessels considered obsolete for front-line combat service. These vessels were used primarily for training and for coastal patrol duties. The 3rd Fleet came under the aegis of the Combined Fleet for the duration of the Russo-Japanese War from March 1904. Although initially derided as a "dinosaur fleet",[1] the 3rd fleet proved invaluable at the Battle of Tsushima and the Invasion of Sakhalin. It was disbanded on 20 December 1905.

South China Fleet[edit]

The 3rd Fleet was revived on 24 December 1908 as an expeditionary force during the Chinese Republican Revolution, to safeguard Japanese interests (civilians and property} on the Chinese mainland and (if necessary) to conduct emergency evacuation. It was nicknamed the "South China Fleet" after its chief area of envisioned activity was the South China Sea]]. It's cruisers patrolled the Yangtze River and other large rivers in China, and its headquarters was based in the Japanese concession in Shanghai. It was disbanded on 25 December 1915.

World War I[edit]

The 3rd Fleet was reconstituted on the same day as the dissolution of the "South China Fleet", initially to act as a training force to supplement Japan's contribution to the World War I under the terms of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. When the Russian Revolution was proclaimed by the communist forces in Russia, the mission of the 3rd Fleet was changed to that of patrols of the Russian sea coast for the Siberian Intervention by Japanese ground forces in support of anti-Bolshevik forces. The 3rd Fleet was disbanded on 1 December 1922, and many of its vessels were scrapped almost immediately under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.

First China Expeditionary Fleet[edit]

The 3rd Fleet was again raised on 2 February 1938 as part of Japan's emergency buildup of forces after the Shanghai Incident. The buildup took the form of three separate expeditionary fleets, consisting primarily of cruisers and gunboats to patrol the Chinese coast and major riverways and to support the landings of Japanese ground forces. With the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the 3rd Fleet came under the aegis of the China Area Fleet. It was disbanded on 15 November 1939; however, some of the organizational and command structures for ground forces under the First China Expeditionary Fleet remained in place until August 1943.

Southern Expeditionary Fleet[edit]

The 3rd Fleet was recreated once again on 10 April 1941 with the additional designation "Southern Expeditionary Fleet" for the specific task of invading the Philippine islands. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, its headquarters was based in Palau and its mission expanded to include the invasions of Java, Borneo and other islands of the Netherlands East Indies. It was superseded by the 2nd Southern Expeditionary Fleet under the aegis of the Southwest Area Fleet on 10 March 1942.

World War II[edit]

The sixth (and final) incarnation of the 3rd Fleet was formed on 14 July 1942 immediately after the disastrous Battle of Midway as an aircraft carrier task force modeled after similar units in the United States Navy. It was centered on the new aircraft carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku. It played an important role during the Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Santa Cruz, in which the American aircraft carrier Hornet was sunk, but at the cost of many of the best air crews in the Japanese Navy. After March 1944, the 3rd Fleet was basically merged with the 2nd Fleet (Imperial Japanese Navy), and suffered through the disastrous Battle of the Philippine Sea, losing 3 of its aircraft carriers, including the newly commissioned Taihō and over 350 carrier planes. With the loss of 4 aircraft carriers at the Battle off Cape Engaño, the 3rd Fleet effectively ceased to exist. It was officially disbanded on 15 December 1944.[2]

Commanders of the 3rd Fleet[edit]

Commander in chief [3]

Rank Name Dates
1 Admiral Shichiro Kataoka 28 December 1903 20 December 1905
X Disbanded 20 December 1905 13 December 1915
1 Admiral Kakuichi Murakami 13 December 1915 6 April 1917
2 Admiral Ryokitsu Arima 6 April 1917 1 December 1918
3 Admiral Teijiro Kuroi 1 December 1918 1 December 1919
4 Admiral Kaneo Nomaguchi 1 December 1919 1 December 1920
5 Admiral Kozaburo Oguri 1 December 1920 1 December 1921
6 Admiral Baron Kantarō Suzuki 1 December 1921 27 July 1922
7 Vice-Admiral Naoe Nakano 27 July 1922 1 December 1922
8 Disbanded 1 December 1922 2 February 1932
1 Admiral Kichisaburō Nomura 2 February 1932 28 June 1932
2 Vice-Admiral Seizo Sakonji 28 June 1932 1 December 1932
3 Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai 1 December 1932 15 September 1933
4 Vice-Admiral Shinjiro Imamura 15 September 1933 15 November 1934
5 Admiral Gengo Hyakutake 15 November 1934 1 December 1935
6 Admiral Koshirō Oikawa 1 December 1935 1 December 1936
7 Admiral Kiyoshi Hasegawa 1 December 1936 25 April 1938
8 Admiral Koshirō Oikawa 25 April 1938 15 November 1939
X Disbanded 15 November 1939 10 April 1941
1 Admiral Ibō Takahashi 10 April 1941 10 March 1942
X Disbanded 10 March 1942 14 July 1942
1 Admiral Chuichi Nagumo 14 July 1942 11 November 1942
2 Vice-Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa 11 November 1942 15 November 1944

Chief of Staff

Rank Name Dates
1 Rear-Admiral Shizuka Nakamura 28 December 1903 12 January 1905
2 Vice-Admiral Koshi Saito 12 January 1905 2 November 1905
X Disbanded 20 December 1905 13 December 1915
1 Rear-Admiral Shichitaro Takagi 13 December 1915 1 April 1916
2 Rear-Admiral Tokutaro Hiraga 1 April 1916 19 March 1917
3 Vice-Admiral Hisatsune Iida 19 March 1917 1 December 1917
4 Vice-Admiral Shichigoro Saito 1 December 1917 1 December 1918
5 Vice-Admiral Shinzaburo Furukawa 1 December 1918 10 June 1919
6 Vice-Admiral Kosaburo Uchida 10 June 1919 20 November 1920
7 Rear-Admiral Hisamori Taguchi 20 November 1920 1 December 1921
8 Vice-Admiral Naomoto Komatsu 1 December 1921 1 December 1922
X Disbanded 1 December 1922 2 February 1932
1 Admiral Shigetarō Shimada 2 February 1932 28 June 1932
2 Vice-Admiral Shigeru Kikuno 28 June 1932 1 April 1933
3 Rear-Admiral Seizaburo Mitsui 1 April 1933 15 November 1933
4 Admiral Shirō Takasu 15 November 1933 15 November 1934
5 Vice-Admiral Eijiro Kondo 15 November 1934 2 December 1935
6 Vice-Admiral Seiichi Iwamura 2 December 1935 16 November 1936
7 Vice-Admiral Rokuzo Sugiyama 16 November 1936 25 April 1938
8 Vice-Admiral Jinichi Kusaka 25 April 1938 23 October 1939
9 Admiral Shigeyoshi Inoue 23 October 1939 15 November 1939
X Disbanded 15 November 1939 10 April 1941
1 Vice-Admiral Toshihisa Nakamura 10 April 1941 10 March 1942
2 Vice-Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka 14 July 1942 23 November 1942
3 Vice-Admiral Sadayoshi Yamada 23 November 1942 6 December 1943
4 Rear-Admiral Keizo Komura 6 December 1943 1 October 1944
5 Rear-Admiral Sueo Obayashi 1 October 1944 15 November 1944

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jukes, The Russo-Japanese War
  2. ^ D'Albas, The Death of a Navy
  3. ^ Wendel, Axis History Database

References[edit]

  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • Jukes, Geoffry (2002). The Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905. Osprey Essential Histories. ISBN 978-1-84176-446-7. 
  • Lacroix, Eric; Linton Wells (1997). Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-311-3. 

External links[edit]