Battle of Tsushima

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Battle of Tsushima
Part of the Russo-Japanese War
Admiral Tōgō on the bridge of Mikasa
Admiral Tōgō on the bridge of Mikasa, at the beginning of the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. The signal flag being hoisted is the letter Z, which was a special instruction to the Fleet.
Date 27–28 May 1905
Location Straits of Tsushima
34°33.977′N 130°9.056′E / 34.566283°N 130.150933°E / 34.566283; 130.150933Coordinates: 34°33.977′N 130°9.056′E / 34.566283°N 130.150933°E / 34.566283; 130.150933
Result Decisive Japanese victory[1]
Belligerents
 Empire of Japan  Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Empire of Japan Tōgō Heihachirō
Empire of Japan Kamimura Hikonojō
Empire of Japan Dewa Shigetō
Russian Empire Zinovy Rozhestvensky  (POW)
Russian Empire Nikolai Nebogatov (POW)
Russian Empire Oskar Enkvist
Strength
total: 89 ships
4 battleships
27 cruisers
21 destroyers
37 torpedo boats plus gunboats, and auxiliary vessels
total: 28 ships
8 battleships
3 coastal battleships
8 cruisers
9 destroyers
Casualties and losses
117 dead
583 injured
3 torpedo boats sunk
4,380 dead
5,917 captured
21 ships sunk (including six battleships and a coastal defense ironclad)
seven ships captured
six ships disarmed

The Battle of Tsushima (Russian: Цусимское сражение, Tsusimskoye srazheniye), commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” (Japanese: 日本海海戦, nihonkai-kaisen) in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. This was naval history's only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets,[2][3] the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy (radio) played a critically important role, it has been characterized as the "dying echo of the old era – for the last time in the history of naval warfare ships of the line of a beaten fleet surrendered on the high seas."[4]

It was fought on May 27–28, 1905 (May 14–15 in the Julian calendar then in used in Russia) in the Tsushima Strait between Korea and southern Japan. In this battle the Japanese fleet under Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō destroyed two-thirds of the Russian fleet, under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, which had traveled over 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km) to reach the Far East. In London in 1906, Sir George Sydenham Clarke wrote, "The battle of Tsu-shima is by far the greatest and the most important naval event since Trafalgar";[5] decades later, historian Edmund Morris agreed with this judgement.[6] The destruction of the Russian navy caused a bitter reaction from the Russian public, which induced a peace treaty in September 1905 without any further battles.

Prior to the Russo-Japanese War, countries constructed their battleships with mixed batteries of mainly 152 mm (6-inch), 203 mm (8-inch), 254 mm (10-inch) and 305 mm (12-inch) guns, with the intent that these battleships fight on the battle line in a close-quarter, decisive fleet action. The Battle of Tsushima demonstrated that battleship speed and big guns[7] with longer ranges were more advantageous in naval battles than mixed batteries of different sizes.[8]

The wireless telegraph was invented in the last half of the 1890s; by the turn of the century all major navies were adopting this improved communications technology. Although Alexander Stepanovich Popov of the Naval Warfare Institute had built and demonstrated a wireless telegraphy set in 1900, equipment from the firm Telefunken in Germany was initially adopted by the Imperial Russian Navy. In Japan, Professor Shunkichi Kimura was commissioned into the Imperial Navy to develop their own wireless system, and this was in place in many Japanese warships before 1904. Although both sides had early wireless telegraphy, the Russians were using German sets and had difficulties in their use and maintenance, while the Japanese had the advantage of using their own equipment.

Background[edit]

Conflict in the Far East[edit]

On 8 February 1904 destroyers of the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the Russian Far East Fleet anchored in Port Arthur; three ships—two battleships and a cruiser—were damaged in the attack. The Russo-Japanese war had thus begun. Japan's first objective was to secure its lines of communication and supply to the Asian mainland, enabling it to conduct a ground war in Manchuria. To achieve this, it was necessary to neutralize Russian naval power in the Far East. At first, the Russian naval forces remained inactive and did not engage the Japanese, who staged unopposed landings in Korea. However, the Russians were revitalised by the arrival of Admiral Stepan Makarov and were able to achieve some degree of success against the Japanese. Admiral Makarov's flagship, the battleship Petropavlovsk struck a mine, Makarov was among the dead. His successors failed to challenge the Japanese Navy, and the Russians were effectively bottled up in their base at Port Arthur.

By May, the Japanese had landed forces on the Liaodong Peninsula and in August began the siege of the naval station. On 9 August, Admiral Wilgelm Vitgeft, commander of the 1st Pacific Squadron, was ordered to sortie his fleet to Vladivostok,[9] link up with the Squadron stationed there, and then engage the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in a decisive battle.[10] Both squadrons of the Russian Pacific Fleet would ultimately become dispersed during the battles of the Yellow Sea on 10 August and the Ulsan on 14 August 1904. What remained of Russian naval power would eventually be sunk in Port Arthur.

The Second Pacific Squadron[edit]

With the inactivity of the First Pacific Squadron after the death of Admiral Makarov and the tightening of the Japanese noose around Port Arthur, the Russians considered sending part of their Baltic Fleet to the Far East. The plan was to relieve Port Arthur by sea, link up with the First Pacific Squadron, overwhelm the Imperial Japanese Navy, and then delay the Japanese advance into Manchuria until Russian reinforcements could arrive via the Trans-Siberian railroad and overwhelm the Japanese land forces in Manchuria. As the situation in the Far East deteriorated, the Tsar (encouraged by his cousin Kaiser Wilhelm II), agreed to the formation of the Second Pacific Squadron. It would consist of five divisions of the Baltic Fleet, including 11 of its 13 battleships. The squadron departed on 15 October 1904 under the command of Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky.

The Second Pacific Squadron sailed through the North Sea. As there were rumours of Japanese torpedo boats in the North Sea, several Russian ships fired upon British fishing trawlers off the Dogger Bank, causing the Royal Navy to shadow the Russian fleet until a diplomatic agreement was reached. Barred by Britain from using the Suez Canal, the Russians sailed around Africa, and by April and May 1905 had anchored at Cam Ranh Bay in French Indochina (now Vietnam). The voyage was long and arduous, and the morale of the crews plummeted. The Russians had been ordered to break the blockade of Port Arthur, but the city had already fallen on 2 January, so the Russian port of Vladivostok became the objective.

Tsushima Strait[edit]

The Russians could have sailed through any one of three possible straits to enter the Sea of Japan and reach Vladivostok: La Perouse, Tsugaru, and Tsushima. Admiral Rozhestvensky chose Tsushima in an effort to simplify his route. Admiral Tōgō, based at Busan, also believed Tsushima would be the preferred Russian course. The Tsushima Strait is the body of water eastward of the Tsushima Island group, located midway between the Japanese island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula, the shortest and most direct route from Indochina. The other routes would have required the fleet to sail east around Japan. The Japanese Combined Fleet and the Russian Second and Third Pacific Squadrons, sent from Europe, would fight in the straits between Korea and Japan near the Tsushima Islands.

Prelude[edit]

Because of the 18,000-mile journey, the Russian fleet was in relatively poor condition for battle. Apart from the four newest Borodino-class battleships, Admiral Nebogatov's 3rd Division[11] consisted of older and poorly maintained warships. Overall neither side had a significant maneuverability advantage.[12] The long voyage, combined with a lack of opportunity for maintenance, meant the Russian ships were heavily fouled, significantly reducing their speed.[13] The Japanese ships could reach 15 knots (28 km/h), but the Russian fleet could reach just 14 knots (26 km/h), (only in short bursts).[12]

Tōgō was able to use the superior maneuverability of his fleet to his advantage, "crossing the T" twice. Additionally, there were significant deficiencies in the Russian naval fleet's equipment and training. Russian naval tests with their torpedoes exposed major technological failings.[14] Tōgō's greatest advantage was that of experience, being the only active admiral in any navy with combat experience aboard battleships.[15] (The others were Russian Admirals Oskar Victorovich Stark, who had been relieved of his command following his humiliating loss in the Battle of Port Arthur, and Wilgelm Vitgeft, who had been killed in the Battle of the Yellow Sea.)

Battle[edit]

Naval tactics[edit]

Battleships, cruisers, and other vessels were arranged into divisions, each division being commanded by a Flag Officer (Admiral). At the battle of Tsushima, Admiral Tōgō was the officer commanding in the battleship Mikasa (the other divisions being commanded by Vice Admirals, Rear Admirals, Commodores, Captains and Commanders for the destroyer divisions). Next in line after Mikasa came the battleships Shikishima, Fuji and Asahi. Following them were two armoured cruisers.

Admiral Tōgō, by using reconnaissance and choosing his position well, "secured beyond reasonable hazard his strategic objective of bringing the Russian fleet to battle, irrespective of speeds."[16] When Tōgō decided to execute a turn to port in sequence, he did so to preserve the sequence of his battleline, with the flagship Mikasa still in the lead (which could indicate that Admiral Tōgō wanted his more powerful units to enter action first).

Turning in sequence meant that each ship would turn one after the other whilst still following the ship in front. Effectively each vessel would turn over the same piece of sea (this being the danger in the maneuver as it gives the enemy fleet the opportunity to target that area). Tōgō could have ordered his ships to turn "together", that is, each ship would have made the turn at the same time and reversed course. This maneuver, the same one was effected by the French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, would be quicker but would have disrupted the sequence of the battleline and caused confusion by altering the battle plans and placing the cruisers in the lead. This was something Tōgō wished to avoid.

Departure of the Combined (Japanese) Fleet.

First contact[edit]

Because the Russians desired to slip undetected into Vladivostok, as they approached Japanese waters they steered outside regular shipping channels to reduce the chance of detection. On the night of 26/27 May 1905 the Russian fleet approached the Tsushima Strait.

In the night, thick fog blanketed the straits, giving the Russians an advantage. At 02:45 Japan Standard Time (JST), the Japanese auxiliary cruiser Shinano Maru observed three lights on what appeared to be a vessel on the distant horizon and closed to investigate. These lights were from the Russian hospital ship Oryol, which in compliance with the rules of war, had continued to burn them.[17] At 04:30, Shinano Maru approached the vessel, noting that she carried no guns and appeared to be an auxiliary. The Oryol mistook the Shinano Maru for another Russian vessel and did not attempt to notify the fleet. Instead, she signaled to inform the Japanese ship that there were other Russian vessels nearby. The Shinano Maru then sighted the shapes of ten other Russian ships in the mist. The Russian fleet had been discovered, and any chance of reaching Vladivostok undetected had disappeared.

Wireless telegraphy played an important role from the start. At 04:55, Captain Narukawa of the Shinano Maru sent a message to Admiral Tōgō in Masampo that the "Enemy is in square 203". By 05:00, intercepted wireless signals informed the Russians that they had been discovered and that Japanese scouting cruisers were shadowing them. Admiral Tōgō received his message at 05:05, and immediately began to prepare his battle fleet for a sortie.

Beginning of the battle[edit]

Z flag

At 06:34, before departing with the Combined Fleet, Admiral Tōgō wired a confident message to the navy minister in Tokyo:

In response to the warning that enemy ships have been sighted, the Combined Fleet will immediately commence action and attempt to attack and destroy them. Weather today fine but high waves.[18]

The final sentence of this telegram, conveying a poetic and almost serene attitude towards a battle that would risk the entire Japanese fleet, became legendary in the annals of Japanese military history.

At the same time the entire Japanese fleet put to sea, with Tōgō in his flagship Mikasa leading over forty vessels to meet the Russians. Meanwhile, the shadowing Japanese scouting vessels sent wireless reports every few minutes as to the formation and course of the Russian fleet. There was mist which reduced visibility and the weather was poor. Wireless gave the Japanese an advantage; in his report on the battle, Admiral Tōgō noted the following:

Though a heavy fog covered the sea, making it impossible to observe anything at a distance of over five miles, [through wireless messaging] all the conditions of the enemy were as clear to us, who were 30 or 40 miles distant, as though they had been under our very eyes.[19]

At around 13:55, Tōgō ordered the hoisting of the Z flag, issuing a predetermined announcement to the entire fleet:

The Empire's fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man do his utmost duty.[20]

At 13:40, both fleets sighted each other and prepared to engage. By 14:45, Tōgō had 'crossed the Russian T'[21] enabling him to fire broadsides, while the Russians could only reply with their forward turrets.[22][23][24]

Daylight action[edit]

The Russians sailed from south southwest to north northeast; "continuing to a point of intersection which allowed only their bow guns to bear; enabling him [Togo] to throw most of the Russian batteries successively out of bearing." [25] The Japanese fleet steamed from northeast to west, Tōgō ordered the fleet to turn in sequence, which enabled his ships to take the same course as the Russians, although risking each battleship consecutively. This U-turn was successful. Rozhestvensky had only two alternatives, "a charge direct, in line abreast", or to commence "a formal pitched battle." [25] He chose the latter, and at 14:08, the Japanese flagship Mikasa was hit at about 7,000 meters, with the Japanese replying at 6,400 meters. Superior Japanese gunnery then took its toll, [26] with most of the Russian battleships being crippled. As naval engagements traditionally began at a considerably closer range, Tōgō immediately gained the advantage of surprise.

Commander Vladimir Semenoff, a Russian staff officer aboard the flagship Knyaz Suvorov, noted that "It seemed impossible even to count the number of projectiles striking us. Shells seemed to be pouring upon us incessantly one after another.[27] The steel plates and superstructure on the upper decks were torn to pieces, and the splinters caused many casualties. Iron ladders were crumpled up into rings, guns were literally hurled from their mountings. In addition to this, there was the unusually high temperature and liquid flame of the explosion, which seemed to spread over everything. I actually watched a steel plate catch fire from a burst." [24]

A direct hit on the Borodino's magazines by the Japanese battleship Fuji caused her to explode, which sent smoke thousands of feet into the air and trapped all of her crew on board as the ship slid under the sea.[24] The Japanese ships suffered only light damage. Rozhestvensky was knocked out of action by a shell fragment that struck his skull. In the evening, Rear Admiral Nebogatov took over command of the Russian fleet. The Russians lost the battleships Knyaz Suvorov, Oslyabya, Imperator Aleksandr III and the Borodino.

Night attacks[edit]

At night, around 20:00, 21 destroyers and 37 Japanese torpedo boats were thrown against the Russians. The destroyers attacked from the vanguard while the torpedo boats attacked from the east and south of the Russian fleet. The Japanese were aggressive, continuing their attacks for three hours without a break, as a result during the night, there were a number of collisions between the small craft and Russian warships. The Russians were now dispersed in small groups trying to break northwards. By 23:00, it appeared that the Russians had vanished, but they revealed their positions to their pursuers by switching on their searchlights — ironically, the searchlights had been turned on to spot the attackers. The old battleship Navarin struck a mine and was compelled to stop, she was consequently torpedoed four times and sunk. Out of a crew of 622, only three survived to be rescued by the Japanese.

The battleship Sissoi Veliky was badly damaged by a torpedo in the stern, and was scuttled the next day. Two old armoured cruisersAdmiral Nakhimov and Vladimir Monomakh — were badly damaged, the former by a torpedo hit to the bow, the latter by colliding with a Japanese destroyer. They were both scuttled by their crews the next morning, the Admiral Nakhimov off Tsushima Island, where she headed while taking on water. The night attacks had put a great strain on the Russians, as they had lost two battleships and two armoured cruisers, while the Japanese had only lost three torpedo boats.

XGE signal and Russian surrender[edit]

During the night action, Tōgō was able to rest his main fleet. At 09:30 on 28 May, what remained of the Russian fleet was sighted heading northwards. Tōgō's battleships proceeded to surround Nebogatov's remaining squadron south of the island of Takeshima.[24] At 10:34, realising that his situation was hopeless, Nebogatov ordered the six ships remaining under his command to surrender. XGE, an international signal of surrender, was hoisted; at 10:53, the Japanese agreed to accept the surrender. Realising the battle had become futile, Nebogatov was unwilling to sacrifice the lives of his sailors simply to save his own honour.[24] He decided instead to accept the shame of surrender, knowing full well he might be shot when he returned to Russia.[24] He said to his men:

You are young, and it is you who will one day retrieve the honour and glory of the Russian Navy. The lives of the two thousand four hundred men in these ships are more important than mine.[24]

The wounded Admiral Rozhestvensky was a prisoner in a Japanese hospital. The victorious Admiral Tōgō would later visit him, comforting him with kind words:

Defeat is a common fate of a soldier. There is nothing to be ashamed of in it. The great point is whether we have performed our duty.[28]

Neither Nebogatov nor Rozhestvensky were shot when they returned home to Russia. However, both were placed on trial. Rozhestvensky claimed full responsibility for the fiasco; but as he had been wounded and unconscious during the last part of the battle, the Tsar commuted his death sentence. Nebogatov, having actually surrendered the fleet at the end of the naval engagement, was imprisoned for several years and eventually pardoned by the Tsar. Both men's reputations were ruined.

Until the evening of 28 May, single Russian ships were pursued by the Japanese until almost all were destroyed or captured. Three Russian warships reached Vladivostok. The cruiser Izumrud, which escaped from the Japanese despite being present at Nebogatov's surrender, was scuttled by her crew after running aground near the Siberian coast. Some ships returned to Russia or were interned in neutral ports.

Contributing factors[edit]

The Japanese fleets had practised gunnery regularly since the beginning of the war, using sub-calibre adapters in their guns and gaining more experience than the Russians. The Japanese also used mostly high-explosive shells with shimose (melinite), which was designed to explode on contact and wreck the upper structures of ships.[29] The Russians used armour-piercing rounds with small guncotton bursting charges and unreliable fuses.[30] Japanese hits caused more damage to Russian ships relative to Russian hits on Japanese ships, setting the superstructures, the paintwork and the large quantities of coal stored on the decks on fire. (The Russian fleet often bought low-quality coal at sea from merchant vessels on most of their long voyage due to the lack of friendly fuelling ports).

Japanese fire was also more accurate because they were using the latest issued (1903) Barr & Stroud FA3 coincidence rangefinder, which had a range of 6,000 yards (5,500 m), while the Russian battleships were equipped with Liuzhol rangefinders from the 1880s, which only had a range of about 4,000 yards (3,700 m).[31] And finally, by 27 May 1905, Admiral Tōgō and his men had two battleship fleet actions under their belts, which amounted to over four hours of combat experience in battleship-to-battleship combat at Port Arthur and the Yellow Sea[32]—experience which would eliminate the miscalculations and rash decisions made during those battles, while applying the learned lessons from those sea engagements with both finesse and ruthlessness at Tsushima.[33]

Aftermath[edit]

Battle damage to the cruiser Zhemchug. Note the shell hole in the stack.
Battle damage to the cruiser Oleg, in Manila Bay

Russian losses[edit]

The battle was a devastating humiliation for Russia which lost all its battleships and most of its cruisers and destroyers. The battle effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War in Japan's favour. The Russians lost 4,380 killed and 5,917 captured, including two admirals, with a further 1,862 interned.[28]

Battleships

The Russians lost eleven battleships, including three smaller coastal vessels, either sunk or captured by the Japanese, or scuttled by their crews to prevent capture. Four ships were lost to enemy action during the daylight battle on 27 May: Knyaz Suvorov, Imperator Aleksandr III, Borodino and the Oslyabya. The Navarin was lost during the night action, on 27–28 May, while the Sissoi Veliky, Admiral Nakhimov and Admiral Ushakov were either scuttled or sunk the next day. Four other battleships under Rear Admiral Nebogatov, were forced to surrender and would end up as prizes of war. This group consisted of only one modern battleship, Oryol, along with the old battleship Imperator Nikolai I and the two small coastal battleships General Admiral Graf Apraksin and Admiral Seniavin. The small coastal battleship Admiral Ushakov refused to surrender and was scuttled by her crew.

Cruisers[edit]

The Russian Navy lost four of its eight cruisers during the battle, three were interned by the Americans, with just one reaching Vladivostok. The Vladimir Monomakh and Svetlana were sunk the next day, after the daylight battle. The cruiser Dmitrii Donskoi fought against six Japanese cruisers and survived; however, due to heavy damage she was scuttled. The Izumrud ran aground near the Siberian coast. Three Russian protected cruisers, Aurora, Zhemchug, and Oleg escaped to the US naval base at Manila in the then-American-controlled Philippines where they were interned, as the United States was neutral. The armed yacht (classified as a cruiser), Almaz, alone was able to reach Vladivostok.

Destroyers and auxiliaries[edit]

Imperial Russia also lost six of its nine destroyers in the battle, had one interned by the Chinese, with two escaping to Vladivostok. They were—the Buiny, Buistry, Bezupreshchny, Gromky and Blestyashchy—sunk on 28 May, the Byedovy surrendered that day. Bodry was interned in Shanghai; the Grosny and Bravy reached Vladivostok.

Of the auxiliaries, the Kamchatka, Ural and Rus were sunk on 27 May, Irtuish ran aground on 28 May, Koreya and Svir were interned in Shanghai; the Anadyr escaped to Madagascar. The hospital ships Oryol and Kostroma were captured, the Kostroma was released afterwards.

Japanese losses[edit]

The Japanese lost only three torpedo boats (Nos. 34, 35 and 69), with 117 men killed and 500 wounded.[28]

Political consequences[edit]

Imperial Russia's prestige was badly damaged and the defeat was a severe blow to the Romanov dynasty. Nearly the entire Russian fleet was lost in a single battle; the fast armed yacht Almaz (classified as a cruiser of the 2nd rank) and the destroyers Grozny and Bravy were the only Russian ships to reach Vladivostok. In The Guns of August, the American historian and author Barbara Tuchman argued that Russia's loss destabilized the balance of power in Europe, it emboldened the Central Powers and contributed to their decision to go to war in 1914.

The battle had a profound cultural and political impact upon Japan. It was the first defeat of a European power by an Asian nation in the modern era,[34][35] using the full breadth of then-modern industrial technology. It also weakened the notion of white superiority, widely accepted in Western society before that.[36] The victory established Japan as the sixth greatest naval power[37] while the Russian navy declined to one barely stronger than that of Austria-Hungary.[37]

In The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles, the British historian Geoffrey Regan argues that the victory bolstered Japan's increasingly aggressive political and military establishment. According to Regan, the lopsided Japanese victory at Tsushima:

...created a legend that was to haunt Japan's leaders for forty years. A British admiral once said, 'It takes three years to build a ship, but 300 years to build a tradition.' Japan thought that the victory had completed this task in a matter of a few years ... It had all been too easy. Looking at Tōgō's victory over one of the world's great powers convinced some Japanese military men that with more ships, and bigger and better ones, similar victories could be won throughout the Pacific. Perhaps no power could resist the Japanese navy, not even Britain and the United States.[28]

Regan also believes the victory contributed to the Japanese road to later disaster, "because the result was so misleading. Certainly the Japanese navy had performed well, but its opponents had been weak, and it was not invincible... Tōgō's victory [helped] set Japan on a path that would eventually lead her" to the Second World War.[28]

Dreadnought arms race[edit]

Main article: Dreadnought

Britain's First Sea Lord, Admiral Fisher, reasoned that the Japanese victory at Tsushima confirmed the importance of large guns and speed for modern battleships;[38] in October 1905 the British started the construction of HMS Dreadnought, which upon her launching in 1906 began a naval arms race between Britain and Germany in the years before 1914. The British and German fleets met in only one major action in World War I, the indecisive Battle of Jutland.[39]

Timeline[edit]

The battleship Mikasa, Admiral Tōgō's flagship at the battle of Tsushima, preserved as a memorial in Yokosuka, Japan

27 May 1905 (JST)

  • 04:45 The Shinano Maru (Japan) locates the Russian Baltic Fleet and sends a wireless signal.
  • 05:05 The Japanese Combined Fleet leaves port and sends a wireless signal to Imperial Headquarters: "Today's weather is fine but waves are high. (Japanese: 本日天気晴朗なれども波高し)".
  • 13:39 The Japanese Combined Fleet gains visual contact with the Russian Baltic Fleet, and sends up the battle flag.
  • 13:55 Distance (Range): 12,000 meters. The Mikasa sends up 'Z' flag. (Z flag's meaning: The Empire's fate depends on the result of this battle, let every man do his utmost duty.).
  • 14:05 Distance (Range): 8,000 meters. The Japanese Combined Fleet turns their helm aport (i.e. starts a U-turn).
  • 14:07 Distance (Range): 7,000 meters. The Mikasa completes her turn. The Russian Baltic Fleet opens fire with their main batteries.
  • 14:10 Distance (Range): 6,400 meters. All Japanese warships complete their turns.
  • 14:12 Distance (Range): 5,500 meters. The Mikasa receives her first hit from the Russian guns.
  • 14:16 Distance (Range): 4,600 meters. The Japanese Combined Fleet begins concentrating their return fire on the Russian flagship, the Knyaz Suvorov.
  • 14:43 The Oslyabya and Knyaz Suvorov are set on fire and fall away from the battle line.
  • 14:50 The Imperator Aleksandr III starts turning to the north and attempts to leave the battle line.
  • 15:10 The Oslyabya sinks, and the Knyaz Suvorov attempts to withdraw.
  • 18:00 The two fleets counterattack each other (distance (range): 6,300 m), and begin exchanging main battery fire again.
  • 19:03 The Imperator Aleksandr III sinks.
  • 19:20 The Knyaz Suvorov and Borodino sink.

28 May 1905 (JST)

  • 09:30 The Japanese Combined Fleet locates the Russian Baltic Fleet again.
  • 10:34 Admiral Nebogatov signals "XGE", which is "I surrender" in the International Code of Signals used at the time.
  • 10:53 Admiral Tōgō accepts the surrender.


On film[edit]

The 1969 film The Battle of the Japan Sea (佐藤 勝: 日本海大海戦, Nihonkai-Kaisen) depicts the battle.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 100 Battles, Decisive Battles that Shaped the World, Dougherty, Martin, J., Parragon, p.144-45
  2. ^ Sterling, Christopher H. (2008). Military communications: from ancient times to the 21st century. ABC-CLIO. p. 459. ISBN 1-85109-732-5. "The naval battle of Tsushima, the ultimate contest of the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, was one of the most decisive sea battles in history." 
  3. ^ Naval War College Press (U.S.), ed. (2009). Joint Operational Warfare Theory and Practice and V. 2, Historical Companion. Government Printing Office. p. V-76. ISBN 1-884733-62-X. "In retrospect, the battle of Tsushima in May 1905 was the last "decisive" naval battle in history." 
  4. ^ Brown p. 10
  5. ^ Semenoff (1907) p. ix
  6. ^ Morris, Edmund (2001). Theodore Rex. ISBN 0-394-55509-0. 
  7. ^ Massie p. 470-480
  8. ^ Semenoff (1907) p. 124, 135
  9. ^ Forczyk p. 48
  10. ^ Forczyk p. 26 & 54
  11. ^ Forczyk p. 66
  12. ^ a b Forczyk p. 33
  13. ^ Forczyk, p. 32
  14. ^ In one such trial, of the seven torpedoes fired, one jammed in the tube, two veered ninety degrees to port, one went ninety degrees to starboard, two kept a steady course but went wide of the mark, and the last went round in circles 'popping up and down like a porpoise', causing panic throughout the fleet." Regan, Geoffrey; The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles, 'The Battle of Tsushima 1905', p.176
  15. ^ Forczyk 8, 43, 73 & back cover
  16. ^ Mahan p. 456
  17. ^ Watts p. 22
  18. ^ Translated by Andrew Cobbing in Shiba Ryotaro, Clouds Above the Hill, volume 4, p. 212. Routledge, 2013.
  19. ^ Admiral Togo’s report on the Battle of Tsushima, as published by the Japanese Imperial Naval Headquarters Staff, Sept. 1905; http://www.russojapanesewar.com/togo-aar3.html
  20. ^ Koenig, Epic Sea Battles, p. 141.
  21. ^ Semenoff (1907) p. 70
  22. ^ Mahan p. 457, 458
  23. ^ Regan; The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles-The Battle of Tsushima 1905, pp.176-177
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Regan; The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles-The Battle of Tsushima 1905, p.177
  25. ^ a b Mahan p. 458
  26. ^ Sondhaus, Lawrence, Naval Warfare, 1815-1914, P.191
  27. ^ Semenoff (1907) p. 62, 63
  28. ^ a b c d e Regan; The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles-The Battle of Tsushima 1905, p.178
  29. ^ Semenoff (1907) p. 63
  30. ^ Semenoff (1907) p. 56
  31. ^ Forczyk p. 56, 57
  32. ^ Forczyk p. 43 & 73
  33. ^ Forczyk p. 22 & 77
  34. ^ Forczyk back cover
  35. ^ Pleshakov p. XVI
  36. ^ "the Impact of the Russo-Japanese War in Asia". The American Forum for Global Education. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  37. ^ a b Sondhaus, Lawrence, Naval Warfare, 1815-1914, P.192
  38. ^ Massie, p. 471, 474, 480
  39. ^ The Rivalry of Germany and England, Edward Raymond Turner, The Sewanee Review, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Apr., 1913), pp. 129-147

References[edit]

  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Arms and Armor Press, Great Britain. ISBN 0-85368-802-8.
  • Forczyk, Robert (2009). Russian Battleship vs Japanese Battleship, Yellow Sea 1904-1905. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84603-330-8.
  • Koenig, William (1977, 2004 revised edition). Epic Sea Battles. London: Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. ISBN 0-7537-1062-5. 
  • Mahan, Alfred Thayer (1906). Reflections, Historic and Other, Suggested by the Battle of the Japan Sea. (Article) US Naval Proceedings magazine, June 1906, Volume XXXVI, No. 2; US Naval Institute, Heritage Collection.
  • Massie, Robert K. (1991). Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War. Random House, NY. ISBN 0-394-52833-6.
  • Pleshakov, Constantine (2002). The Tsar's Last Armada; The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima. ISBN 0-465-05792-6.
  • Regan, Geoffrey (1992) 'The Battle of Tsushima 1905' in The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles, Guinness Publishing.
  • Semenoff, Vladimir Captain (1907). The Battle of Tsushima. Translated by Captain A. B. Lindsay; Preface by Sir George Sydenham Clarke, G.C.M.G., F.R.S., John Murray, London, second edition 1907.
  • Sondhaus, Lawrence (2001). Naval Warfare, 1815-1914. New York: Funk & Wagnall’s. 
  • Watts, Anthony J. The Imperial Russian Navy. Arms and Armour Press, Villiers House, 41-47 Strand, London, 1990. ISBN 0-85368-912-1.

Further reading[edit]

  • Busch, Noel F. (1969). The Emperor's Sword: Japan vs. Russia in the Battle of Tsushima. New York: Funk & Wagnall’s. 
  • Corbett, Julian (1994). Maritime Operations In The Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905. ISBN 1-55750-129-7. 
  • Grant, R. (1907). Before Port Arthur in a Destroyer, The Personal Diary of a Japanese Naval Officer. London: John Murray. 
  • Hailey, Foster; Milton Lancelot (1964). Clear for Action: The Photographic Story of Modern Naval Combat, 1898-1964. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pierce. 
  • Hough, Richard Alexander (1960). The Fleet That Had to Die. New York: Ballantine Paperbacks. 
  • Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Dieter Jung; Peter Mickel (1977). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1869-1945. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Novikoff-Priboy, A (1936). Tsushima. London: George Allen & Unwin. 
  • Olender, Piotr (2010). Russo-Japanese Naval War 1904-1905, Vol. 2, Battle of Tsushima. Sandomierz, Poland: Stratus s.c. ISBN 978-83-61421-02-3. 
  • Seager, Robert (1977). Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man And His Letters. ISBN 0-87021-359-8. 
  • Semenoff, Vladimir (1910). Rasplata (The Reckoning). London: John Murray. 
  • Semenoff, Vladimir (1912). The Battle of Tsushima. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. 
  • Tomitch, V. M. (1968). Warships of the Imperial Russian Navy. Battleships. 
  • Warner, Denis and Peggy (1975). The Tide at Sunrise. A History of the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905. ISBN 0-7146-5256-3. 
  • Wilson, H. W. (1969, 1999 revised edition). Battleships in Action. Scholarly Press. ISBN 0-85177-642-6. 
  • Woodward, David (1966). The Russians at Sea: A History of the Russian Navy. New York: Praeger Publishers. 

External links[edit]

  • History.com— This Day In History: The Battle of Tsushima Strait
  • Battlefleet 1900—Free naval wargame rules covering the pre-dreadnought era, including the Russo-Japanese War.
  • Russojapanesewar.com—Contains a complete order of battle of both fleets. It also contains Admiral Tōgō's post-battle report and the account of Russian ensign Sememov.