Japanese cruiser Chōkai

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Chokai-1.jpg
Chōkai
Career Naval Ensign of Japan.svg
Name: Chōkai
Namesake: Mount Chōkai
Ordered: March 26, 1928
Laid down: April 5, 1931
Launched: June 30, 1932
Commissioned: 1932
Struck: December 20, 1944
Fate: Scuttled after gunfire/bomb
damage in Battle off Samar,
October 25, 1944
General characteristics
Displacement: 15,781 tons
Length: 661 ft (203.76 m)
Beam: 68 ft (18.999 m)
Draught: 20 ft 9 in (6.3 m)
Propulsion: 130,000 hp
Speed: 35.5 knots (65.7 km/h)
Range: 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km)
@ 14 knots (26 km/h)
Complement: 773
Armament: ten 20 cm/50 3rd Year Type naval guns,
four 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns,
up to 66 25 mm AA guns,
eight 24-inch tubes for the Type 93 torpedo

Chōkai (鳥海?) was a Takao-class heavy cruiser, armed with ten 8-inch (200 mm) guns, four 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns, eight tubes for the Type 93 torpedo, and assorted anti-aircraft guns. Chōkai was designed with the Imperial Japanese Navy strategy of the great "Decisive Battle" in mind, and built in 1932 by Mitsubishi's shipyard in Nagasaki. She was sunk in the Battle off Samar in October 1944. Chōkai was named for Mount Chōkai.

Operational history[edit]

At the start of the Pacific War, the Chōkai supported the invasion of Malaya and participated in the pursuit of the Royal Navy's battleship Force Z. During January and February 1942, the Chōkai was involved in operations to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies and the island of Borneo. Steaming near Cape St. Jacques, the Chōkai struck a reef, sustaining hull damage on 22 February 1942. On the 27th, she reached Singapore for repairs.

After repairs, the Chōkai was once again assigned to a support role in an invasion, this time the landings at Iri, Sumatra, and the invasion of the Andaman Islands and the seizure of Port Blair a few days later. Afterwards, the Chōkai sailed to Mergui, Burma.

On April 1, 1942, the Chōkai left Mergui to participate in Operation C, a raid on merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean. First, the Chōkai torpedoed and sank the American freighter Bienville, and later on, the British steamship Ganges on 6 April. With her role in the operation successfully concluded, the Chōkai returned to Yokosuka on 22 April 1942.

The Guadalcanal campaign[edit]

By mid-July 1942, the Chōkai was the new flagship of Vice Admiral Mikawa Gunichi and his Eighth Fleet. She proceeded towards Rabaul. On 7 August 1942, with Guadalcanal having been invaded by the Americans, the Chōkai headed for the Guadalcanal waters, with Vice Admiral Mikawa aboard. In the battle of Savo Island Mikawa's squadron of heavy cruisers inflicted a devastating defeat on an Allied squadron, sinking four heavy cruisers (three American and one Australian) and damaging other ships. However, the Chōkai sustained several hits from the cruisers Quincy and Astoria, disabling her "A" turret and killing 34 men. The Chōkai returned to Rabaul for temporary repairs. For the rest of the Solomon Islands campaign, the Chōkai would fight in an assortment of night battles with the U.S. Navy, sustaining varied, but mostly minor, damage.

Cruiser Chōkai

Relieved as the Eighth Fleet flagship shortly after the final evacuation of Guadalcanal, the Chōkai headed back to Yokosuka on 20 February 1943. Tasked with various minor duties for the remainder of 1943 and first half of 1944, the Chōkai was made the flagship of the Cruiser Division Four ("CruDiv 4") on 3 August 1944. She survived a harrowing submarine attack on 23 October 1944, becoming the only undamaged ship of CruDiv 4.

Sunk in the Battle off Samar[edit]

The Chōkai was then transferred to Cruiser Division Five, where she survived another attack on October 24, 1944, this time by aircraft. On the morning of 25 October, the Chōkai, as a part of a large war fleet of IJN battleships, cruisers, and destroyers engaged an American force of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts in the Battle off Samar, the Philippines, as part of the huge Battle of Leyte Gulf. Targeted by 5 in (130 mm) gunfire by the destroyers and destroyer escorts, Chōkai was hit amidships, starboard side, most likely by the sole 5 in (130 mm) gun of the carrier White Plains.[1] While the 20 lb (9.1 kg) payload of the shell could not pierce the hull, it set off the deck-mounted eight Japanese Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes, which were especially volatile because they contained pure oxygen, in addition to their 1,080 lb (490 kg) warheads. The explosion resulted in such severe damage that it knocked out the rudder and engines, causing Chōkai to drop out of formation. Within minutes, an American aircraft dropped a 500 lb (230 kg) bomb on her forward machinery room. Fires began to rage and she went dead in the water. Later that day, she was scuttled by torpedoes from the destroyer Fujinami (11°22′N 126°22′E / 11.367°N 126.367°E / 11.367; 126.367Coordinates: 11°22′N 126°22′E / 11.367°N 126.367°E / 11.367; 126.367),[2] which also rescued some of her crew. Two days later the Fujinami was itself sunk with the loss of all hands, including the Chōkai survivors, which makes Chōkai one of the largest vessels to be sunk with all hands aboard during World War II. This is also one of the deepest shipwrecks, possibly the deepest known, at a depth of approximately 8100 meters (26,600 ft).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Cox, Robert Jon (2010). The Battle Off Samar: Taffy III at Leyte Gulf (5th Edition). Agogeebic Press, LLC. ISBN 0-9822390-4-1. 
  • 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. 
  • Lacroix, Eric; Linton Wells (1997). Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-311-3. 

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hornfischer, James D.. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour, p.308-310. Bantam. ISBN 978-0-553-38148-1. 
  2. ^ Hackett, Bob; Sander Kingsepp (2010). "HIJMS Chokai: Tabular Record of Movement". Junyokan!. combinedfleet.com. Retrieved July 5, 2010.