Combined Fleet

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For the "Carrier Striking Task Force", see Kido Butai.
聯合艦隊
Rengo Kantai
Combined Fleet
(Imperial Japanese Navy)

Naval Ensign of Japan.svg
Active 1894–1945
Country Empire of Japan
Allegiance  Empire of Japan
Type Sea-going component of Imperial Japanese Navy
Engagements First Sino-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
World War I
Second Sino-Japanese War
World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Isoroku Yamamoto
Togo Heihachiro
Hiroyasu Fushimi
and many others
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg
Imperial Seal of Japan and Seal of the Imperial Japanese Navy

The Combined Fleet (聯合艦隊 Rengō Kantai?) was the main ocean-going component of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Until 1933, the Combined Fleet was not a standing force, but a temporary force formed for the duration of a conflict or major naval maneuvers from various units normally under separate commands in peacetime.

History[edit]

Sino-Japanese War (1894–95)[edit]

The Combined Fleet was formally created on 18 July 1894 by the merger of the Standing Fleet and the Western Fleet. The Standing Fleet (also known as the Readiness Fleet) contained the navy's most modern and combat-capable warships. The Western Fleet was a reserve force consisting primarily of obsolete ships deemed unsuitable for front-line combat operations, but still suitable for commerce protection and coastal defense. Vice-admiral Itoh Sukeyuki was appointed the first Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet.[1] for the duration of the first Sino-Japanese war against China.

Russo-Japanese War (1904–05)[edit]

The Combined Fleet was re-formed during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 to provide a unified overall command for the three separate fleets in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The IJN 1st Fleet was the main battleship force, which formed the backbone of the navy and was intended to be used in a traditional line-of-battle showdown with an equivalent enemy battleship fleet (kantai kessen). The IJN 2nd Fleet was a fast, mobile strike force with armored cruisers and protected cruisers. The IJN 3rd Fleet was primarily a reserve fleet of obsolete vessels considered too weak for front-line combat service, but which could still be used in the operation to blockade Port Arthur. Admiral Togo Heihachiro was commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during the Russo-Japanese War.

Interwar years[edit]

The Combined Fleet was not a permanent organization, but was temporarily created when necessary—either during wartime or during fleet maneuvers. Thus, during the period from 1905–1924, the Combined Fleet was created only sporadically as the occasion or circumstances dictated, and disbanded immediately afterwards.

In 1924, the Imperial Japanese Navy declared in an edict on fleet organization that "for the time being" the Combined Fleet would be a standing organization consisting of the IJN 1st Fleet and IJN 2nd Fleet. As the commander of IJN 1st Fleet concurrently directed the Combined Fleet, the Combined Fleet did not have a Headquarters staff of its own.

From 1933, with the Manchurian Incident and the increasing tension with China, a permanent HQ staff for the Combined Fleet was established. By the late 1930s, it included most of Japan's warships—only the base units, the Special Naval Landing Forces, and the China Area Fleet lay outside the Combined Fleet.

World War II[edit]

Admiral and commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet Isoroku Yamamoto

The Combined Fleet came under command of the Imperial General Headquarters in 1937. With the start of the Pacific War with the attack on Pearl Harbor carried out by the Combined Fleet's Kido Butai, the Combined Fleet became almost synonymous with the Imperial Japanese Navy. It comprised the battleships, aircraft carriers, aircraft, and the components that made up the main fighting strength of the IJN. It was first mobilized on the whole for the Battle of Midway. After the devastating carrier losses at Midway and in the Solomon Islands campaign, the navy re-organized into a number of "Area Fleets" for local operational control of various geographic zones. The Combined Fleet then evolved into more of an administrative organization.

As the war situation deteriorated for the Japanese and the territories controlled by the "Area Fleets" fell one after another to the United States Navy, the Imperial General Headquarters and the Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff acted to force the American fleet into a "decisive battle" in the Philippines per the kantai kessen philosophy. In the resultant Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf the Japanese fleet was decimated. The remnants of the Combined Fleet fled to Okinawa, but further operations were hindered by lack of fuel and air cover. By the time of the final suicide mission of the battleship Yamato in Operation Ten-Go, the Combined Fleet had ceased to exist as an effective combat force. The Combined Fleet was formally dissolved on 10 October 1945.

Commanders of the IJN Combined Fleet[edit]

Commander in chief

Rank Name From To
1 Vice Admiral Itoh Sukeyuki 18 July 1894 11 May 1895
2 Vice Admiral Arichi Shinanojo 11 May 1895 16 November 1895
3 Vice Admiral Togo Heihachiro 28 December 1903 20 December 1905
4 Vice Admiral Ijuin Goro 8 October 1908 20 November 1908
5 Vice Admiral Motaro Yoshimatsu 1 November 1915 13 December 1915
6 Vice Admiral Motaro Yoshimatsu 1 September 1916 14 October 1916
7 Admiral Motaro Yoshimatsu 1 October 1917 22 October 1917
8 Admiral Yamashita Gentaro 1 September 1918 15 October 1918
9 Admiral Yamashita Gentaro 1 June 1919 28 October 1918
10 Admiral Yamaya Tanin 1 May 1920 24 August 1920
11 Admiral Tochinai Sojiro 24 August 1920 31 October 1920
12 Admiral Tochinai Sojiro 1 May 1921 31 October 1921
13 Vice Admiral Takeshita Isamu 1 December 1922 27 January 1924
14 Admiral Suzuki Kantaro 27 January 1924 1 December 1924
15 Admiral Okada Keisuke 1 December 1924 10 December 1926
16 Vice Admiral Hiroharu Kato 10 December 1926 10 December 1928
17 Admiral Naomi Taniguchi 10 December 1928 11 November 1929
18 Vice Admiral Eisuke Yamamoto 11 November 1929 1 December 1931
19 Vice Admiral Seizo Kobayashi 1 December 1931 15 November 1933
20 Vice Admiral Nobumasa Suetsugu 15 November 1933 15 November 1934
21 Vice Admiral Sankichi Takahashi 15 November 1934 1 December 1936
22 Vice Admiral Mitsumasa Yonai 1 December 1936 2 February 1937
23 Admiral Osami Nagano 2 February 1937 1 December 1937
24 Vice Admiral Zengo Yoshida 1 December 1937 30 August 1939
25 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto 30 August 1939 18 April 1943
26 Admiral Mineichi Koga 21 May 1943 31 March 1944
27 Admiral Soemu Toyoda 3 May 1944 29 May 1945
28 Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa 29 May 1945 10 October 1945

Chief of staff

Rank Name From To
1 Captain Samejima Kazunori 19 July 1894 17 December 1894
2 Captain Dewa Shigeto 17 December 1894 25 July 1895
3 Captain Kamimura Hikonojo 25 July 1895 16 November 1895
4 Captain Shimamura Hayao 28 December 1903 12 January 1905
5 Rear Admiral Kato Tomosaburo 12 January 1905 20 December 1905
6 Rear Admiral Fujii Koichi 20 December 1905 22 November 1906
7 Captain Yamashita Gentaro 22 November 1906 10 December 1908
8 Captain Takarabe Takeshi 10 December 1908 1 December 1909
9 Rear Admiral Nomaguchi Kaneo 1 December 1909 11 March 1911
10 Captain Akiyama Saneyuki 11 March 1911 24 May 1912
11 Captain Isamu Takeshita 1 December 1912 24 May 1913
X X Vacant 23 May 1913 1 December 1913
12 Rear Admiral Satō Tetsutarō 1 December 1913 17 April 1914
13 Captain Kazuyoshi Yamaji 17 April 1914 1 December 1914
14 Rear Admiral Shibakichi Yamanaka 1 December 1914 13 December 1915
15 Rear Admiral Saburo Horiuchi 13 December 1915 1 December 1917
16 Rear Admiral Hanroku Saito 1 December 1917 1 December 1918
17 Rear Admiral Kajishiro Funakoshi 1 December 1918 1 December 1919
18 Rear Admiral Hansaku Yoshioka 1 December 1919 1 December 1921
19 Rear Admiral Kumazo Shirane 1 December 1921 1 December 1923
20 Rear Admiral Bekinari Kabayama 1 December 1923 10 November 1924
21 Captain Kanjiro Hara 10 November 1924 1 December 1925
22 Rear Admiral Naotaro Ominato 1 December 1925 1 November 1926
23 Rear Admiral Sankichi Takahashi 1 November 1926 1 December 1927
24 Rear Admiral Eijiro Hamano 1 December 1927 10 December 1928
25 Rear Admiral Ken Terajima 10 December 1928 30 October 1929
26 Rear Admiral Koichi Shiozawa 30 October 1929 1 December 1930
27 Rear Admiral Shigetarō Shimada 1 December 1930 1 December 1931
28 Rear Admiral Zengo Yoshida 1 December 1931 15 September 1933
29 Rear Admiral Soemu Toyoda 15 September 1933 15 March 1935
30 Rear Admiral Nobutake Kondō 15 March 1935 15 November 1935
31 Rear Admiral Naokuni Nomura 15 November 1935 16 November 1936
32 Rear Admiral Yasutaro Iwashita 16 November 1936 18 February 1937
33 Rear Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa 18 February 1937 15 November 1937
34 Rear Admiral Ibo Takahashi 15 November 1937 5 November 1939
35 Captain Shigeru Fukudome 5 November 1939 10 April 1941
36 Rear Admiral Seiichi Ito 10 April 1941 11 August 1941
37 Rear Admiral Matome Ugaki 11 August 1941 22 May 1943
38 Vice Admiral Shigeru Fukudome 22 May 1943 6 April 1944
39 Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka 6 April 1944 24 June 1945
40 Rear Admiral Shikazo Yano 24 June 1945 25 September 1945

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Books[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. 

External links[edit]