Japanese cruiser Isuzu

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Japanese cruiser Isuzu 1944.jpg
Isuzu after modification at Mitsubishi Yokohama in 1944
Career (Japan) Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Isuzu
Namesake: Isuzu River
Ordered: 1919 Fiscal Year
Builder: Uraga Dock Company
Laid down: 10 August 1920
Launched: 29 October 1921
Commissioned: 15 August 1923[1]
Refit: 1944
Struck: 20 June 1945
Fate: Sunk 7 April 1945 by United States Navy submarines off Sumbawa, Java Sea
07°38′S 118°09′E / 7.633°S 118.150°E / -7.633; 118.150
General characteristics
Class & type: Nagara-class light cruiser
Displacement: 5,088 tons (standard)
5,832 tons (full load)
Length: 163 m (534 ft 9 in)
Beam: 14.8 m (48 ft 5 in)
Draught: 4.9 m (16 ft)
Propulsion: 4 shaft Gihon geared turbines
12 Kampon boilers
90,000 shp
Speed: 67 km/h (36 kt)
Range: 9,000 nautical miles (17,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 438
Armament: 7 × 140 mm (5.5 in) guns (7x1)
2 × 25 mm AA guns,
6 × 13 mm machine guns,
8 × 610 mm (24 in) torpedo tubes (4x2)
48 naval mines
Armor: 62 mm (belt)
30 mm (deck)
Aircraft carried: 1 x floatplane, 1 catapult

Isuzu (五十鈴 軽巡洋艦 Isuzu keijun'yōkan?) was one of six Nagara-class cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was named after the Isuzu River, near Ise Shrine in the Chūbu region of Japan.

Background[edit]

Isuzu was the second of the six vessels completed in the Nagara-class of light cruisers, and like other vessels of her class, she was intended for use as the flagship of a destroyer flotilla.

Service career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Isuzu was completed at the Uraga Dock Company shipyards on 15 August 1923. Shortly after completion, Isuzu was assigned to patrol duty on the Yangtze River. As the war situation with China continued to deteriorate, Isuzu was sent to patrol the coasts of central China, and to cover landings of Japanese troops in southern China.

Early stages of the Pacific War[edit]

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Isuzu was participating in the invasion of Hong Kong, as part of the 15th Escort Squadron in Vice Admiral Kiyoshi Hara's Second China Expeditionary Fleet. Isuzu remained based in Hong Kong after its capture by Japan from the end of December 1941 to April 1942, returning briefly to its home port of Mako, in the Pescadores to escort reinforcements for the Japanese 25th Army to Singora, Thailand and Camranh Bay, French Indochina.

The 15th Escort Squadron was deactivated on 10 April 1942 and Isuzu was reassigned to Rear Admiral Kenzaburo Hara's CruDiv 16 under Vice Admiral Ibō Takahashi's Second Southern Expeditionary Fleet. It was joined by the Natori and Kinu and was assigned a patrol area in the Dutch East Indies extending from Makassar, Celebes to Balikpapan, Borneo and Surabaya, Java, becoming flagship of CruDiv 16 from 1 May 1942.

On 28 June 1942, Isuzu returned to Yokosuka for repairs and overhaul, which was completed in time for Isuzu to participate in the Banda Sea Operation on 26 July 1942, where Isuzu supported landing operations on the Tanimbar Islands.

In August, 1942, the Isuzu was reassigned to the Indian Ocean theatre, patrolling between Singapore, Mergui, Burma, Sabang Harbor, Sumatra and Penang, Malaya; however, on 24 August 1942, Isuzu was reassigned back to Makassar.

The Solomon Islands campaigns[edit]

On 16 September 1942, Isuzu and Kinu were assigned to escort the first wave of transports with Lieutenant General Masao Maruyama's 2nd Infantry Division from Batavia for the Solomon Islands (Rabaul, New Britain and Shortland Island and Bougainville). From Shortland, Isuzu was ordered on to Truk, in the Caroline Islands, where it replaced the damaged Jintsu as flagship of Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka's DesRon 2's DesDivs 15, 24 and 31 (9 destroyers).

From 11–12 October 1942, it led DesDiv 31 against Guadalcanal, accompanied by the battleships Haruna and Kongō and aircraft carriers Jun'yō and Hiyo, CruDiv 4's Maya, and CruDiv 5's Myōkō. Isuzu provided cover with DesDivs 15 and 31 and also fired on Marine batteries on Tulagi Island during the Bombardment of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal by the Kongō and Haruna.

On 24–25 October 1942, Isuzu participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz, but was not damaged. On 3–5 November 1942, it escorted transports with reinforcements for the 38th Infantry Division to Shortland.

Isuzu also participated in the second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942. Isuzu sustained two near misses from Marine SBD Dauntless dive-bombers. Her No. 3 boiler room flooded and her speed was reduced to 15 knots (28 km/h). She was assisted by the destroyer Asashio and returned to Shortland for emergency repairs, probably by the repair ship Yamabiko Maru. Additional repairs were performed at Truk on 20 November 1942, but Isuzu was forced to retire to Yokosuka, arriving 14 December 1942.

At the Mitsubishi Yokohama shipyard, Isuzu was repaired and modified with the installation of a Type 21 air-search radar. The No. 7 140-mm mount was replaced by an unshielded twin 12.7-cm/40-cal HA-gun mount. The No. 5 gun was removed. Two triple 25-mm mounts were added bringing the light AA suite to ten 25-mm AA mounts and one quadruple 13-mm in front of bridge.

On 1 April 1943, with repairs and modification yet incomplete, Isuzu was assigned to Rear Admiral Kenzo Ito's new CruDiv 14 with the Naka. Isuzu was finally able to depart Yokosuka on 21 May 1943, returning to Truk with supplies and troop reinforcements on 21 June 1943. It was then assigned to ferry troops for the occupation of Nauru on 25 June 1943. Isuzu continued to be based out of Truk to 15 October 1943, when it was recalled to Tokushima and (together with Naka) re-assigned to ferry troops to Shanghai. On 23 October 1943 Isuzu was attacked in the East China Sea by the USS Shad, which fired ten torpedoes, but failed to hit either Isuzu or Naka.

Isuzu returned to Truk on 28 October 1943 and was assigned to escort a convoy of troops for Kavieng, New Ireland. The convoy was attacked 60 miles (97 km) north of Kavieng by 13th Air Force B-24 Liberator bombers, and Isuzu was damaged by a mine laid by the USS Silversides, suffering hull damage forward disabling two gun mounts. Isuzu returned to Rabaul for repairs and was thus in Rabaul harbor during the 5 November 1943 American Carrier Raid on Rabaul. However, the planes from Task Force 38's USS Saratoga and Princeton did little more than strafe Isuzu, which later returned to Truk for repairs.

Operations in South Pacific[edit]

On 20 November 1943, the United States launched "Operation Galvanic" to retake the Gilbert Islands. Isuzu ferried troops from Ponape to Kwajalein and Mili (Mille). While at Roi, on 5 December 1943, Isuzu was attacked by SBD Dauntless dive-bombers and TBF Avenger torpedo-bombers from TG 50.1's new USS Yorktown and the new Lexington. Repairs were conducted at Kwajalein and Truk, but Isuzu was forced to withdraw once again to Yokosuka on 17 January 1944.

While back in Japan, Isuzu was converted to an anti-aircraft cruiser at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. All of her 140 mm (5.5 in) gun mounts were removed and two twin 127 mm (5 in) guns were installed. The number of Type 96 25 mm AA guns was increased to 38 barrels. The catapult and seaplane equipment were removed. Type 13 air-search, Type 21 air-search and Type 22 surface-search radars were fitted or modified. Sonar and depth charge rails were added. On 20 August 1944, Isuzu became flagship of Rear Admiral Heitaro Edo's CruDiv 31 (antisubmarine), and Isuzu was declared combat ready again on 14 September 1944.

Battle of Leyte Gulf[edit]

On 20 October 1944, Isuzu participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf as part of Vice Admiral Jisaburō Ozawa's Northern Mobile ("Decoy") Force. In the Battle off Cape Engano on 25 October 1944 – 26 October 1944 Ozawa's force was attacked by TBM-1C aircraft of VT-21 from TG 38.4's USS Belleau Wood and VT-51 from the San Jacinto. The Chitose was hit heavily and Isuzu unsuccessfully attempted to take it in tow. After Chitose sank, Isuzu rescued 480 survivors. Later the same day, Isuzu attempted to protect the Chiyoda, which was damaged by a second strike by aircraft from the Lexington and the Franklin. However, a force of four US cruisers and nine destroyers appeared on scene and sank Chiyoda with all hands. While rescuing survivors, Isuzu itself came under fire from the American units and 13 crewmembers were killed.

Isuzu returned to Okinawa on 27 October 1944, and from there to Kure, where it was assigned to make a troop transport run to Manila and Brunei. On 19 November 1944, 55 miles (89 km) west of Corregidor, Isuzu was attacked by USS Hake and hit by one of six torpedoes fired, with severe damage to its stern and destroying her rudder. After at-sea emergency repairs, Isuzu, limped into Singapore for temporary repairs.

Operations in the Dutch East Indies[edit]

After temporary repairs, the Isuzu was transferred to Surabaya for more complete repair work on 10 December 1944.

When repairs were completed, on 4 April 1945, Isuzu was sent to transport an army detachment from Kupang to Sumbawa Island. She was spotted by a wolf pack with the USS Charr, Besugo and Gabilan, which was joined by the HMS Spark. On 6 April 1945, Isuzu was attacked north of Sumbawa by ten B-25 Mitchell bombers of the No. 18 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron, based at Batchelor airfield south of Darwin, Australia. Isuzu was slightly damaged by near misses off her starboard bow by some of the 60 bombs dropped. Later on 6 April, she landed troops at Bima Bay, on the northeast coast of Sumbawa. Afterwards, while withdrawing near Flores, Isuzu was hit in the bow section by bombs from B-24 Liberator bombers, from No. 21 Squadron RAAF and No. 24 Squadron RAAF, based in the Northern Territory of Australia. Two B-24s were shot down by Imperial Japanese Army Air Force fighters.

Between Sumbawa and Komodo Islands, USS Besugo fired nine torpedoes at the Isuzu group. Isuzu was undamaged, and one Japanese minesweeper was sunk. The following day, 7 April 1945, 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Bima, Isuzu was struck by one of five torpedoes fired by USS Gabilan. The torpedo hit portside, below the bridge, causing flooding forward. Isuzu's speed fell below 10 knots (19 km/h), she took on a list and went down at the bow. While her crew was performing emergency repairs, USS Charr fired four torpedoes, hitting Isuzu portside twice near the aft engine room. Charr fired two more torpedoes, one of which broke off Isuzu's bow. Isuzu sank at 07°38′S 118°09′E / 7.633°S 118.150°E / -7.633; 118.150, witnessed by Spark. Her captain and 450 crewmen were rescued; 190 crewmen went down with the ship. On the same day, just a few hours apart, the battleship Yamato and her escorts were sunk by US aircraft in an attempted suicide attack on Okinawa.

Isuzu was officially removed from the Navy List on 20 June 1945.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lacroix, Japanese Cruisers, p. 794.

References[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • 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. 
  • Evans, David (1979). Kaigun : Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887–1941. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-192-7. 
  • Howarth, Stephen (1983). The Fighting Ships of the Rising Sun: The drama of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1895–1945. Atheneum. ISBN 0-689-11402-8. 
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Lacroix, Eric; Linton Wells (1997). Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-311-3. 
  • Whitley, M.J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-141-6. 

External links[edit]