Japanese cruiser Maya

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Heavy Cruiser Maya.jpg
Career Japanese Navy Ensign
Name: Maya
Namesake: Mount Maya
Ordered: FY1927
Builder: Kawasaki Shipyards, Kobe
Laid down: 4 December 1928
Launched: 8 November 1930
Commissioned: 20 June 1932
Struck: 20 December 1944
Fate: Torpedoed, 23 October 1944
General characteristics
Class & type: Takao-class heavy cruiser
Displacement: 9,850–13,350 tons
Length: 203.76 m (668.5 ft)
Beam: 19 m (62 ft)
Draft: 6.11 m (20.0 ft)
Installed power: 130,000 hp
Speed: 35.5 kn (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph)
Range: 8,000 nmi (9,200 mi; 15,000 km) at 14 kn (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Complement: 921 – 996
Armament: As built:

After final refit:

  • 8 × 20 cm guns
  • 12 × 12 cm guns
  • up to 117 × 25 mm AA guns
  • 8 × torpedo tubes
Aircraft carried: 3

Maya (摩耶?) was one of four Takao-class heavy cruisers, designed to be an improvement over the previous Myōkō-class design. These ships were fast, powerful and heavily armed, with enough firepower to hold their own against any cruiser in any other navy in the world. The Takao-class ships were approved under the 1927 fiscal year budget as part of the Imperial Japanese Navy's strategy of the Decisive Battle, and forming the backbone of a multipurpose long range strike force. Maya was built by the Kawasaki shipyards in Kobe. It shares its name with the early Japanese gunboat Maya, and per Japanese naval naming conventions, is named after a mountain, specifically Mount Maya outside Kobe.

Service history[edit]

At the start of the Pacific War, Maya was assigned to support the invasion of the Philippine Islands. From January–March 1942, Maya was involved in operations to seize the oil-rich Dutch East Indies. On 3 March 1942, Maya was present at the sinking of the gunboat Asheville south of Java.

Returning to Japan in April 1942, Maya was assigned to the unsuccessful pursuit of Admiral William F. Halsey's Task Force 16.2 after the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, which had damaged the aircraft carrier Ryūhō during her conversion. In May–June 1942, she participated in the successful invasion of the Aleutian Islands.

In August 1942, Maya was assigned south, to the reinforcement of the Solomon Islands, and participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. Maya was based out of Truk through the remainder of 1942. During the bombardment of Henderson Field on 14 November, Maya '​s task force was attacked by the submarine USS Flying Fish, which missed the cruiser with six torpedoes. Later, Maya was attacked by Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers of VB-10 squadron, one of which dropped a 500-lb (227 kg) bomb astern of the ship, but whose starboard wing struck Maya '​s mainmast; the plane crashed into the ship's portside and ignited 12 cm (5 in) shells. Thirty-seven crewmen were killed.

Maya returned to Yokosuka for repairs and refit in January 1943, and was then reassigned to the Northern fleet, supporting supply missions to the Kurile Islands and the Aleutian islands. On 26 March, Maya participated in the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, off Kamchatka Peninsula. The cruisers USS Richmond, Salt Lake City, and four destroyers of Rear Admiral Charles H. McMorris' Task Group 16.6 engaged the cruisers Nachi, Maya, Tama, Abukuma and two destroyers of Vice Admiral Hosogaya's Fifth Fleet, escorting a convoy with troops and supplies for the isolated garrison on Attu. Maya catapulted her spotter aircraft and launched Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedoes, but scored no hits. In a four-hour running gun battle, Salt Lake City and destroyer Bailey were damaged by gunfire. Maya and Nachi were also damaged in the exchange of fire and the Japanese were forced to abort their resupply mission.

After repairs again at Yokosuka, Maya returned to the Kuriles in late April, and became flagship of the Fifth Fleet, assisting in the evacuation of Kiska island after the loss of Attu to the Americans in August 1943.

After refit in Yokosuka with additional twin-mount Type-96 AA guns (bringing its total to 16 barrels), Maya accompanied the heavy cruiser Chōkai back to Truk, arriving in late September, and started shuttling troops and supplies between Truk and Rabaul. In November, Maya was attacked by SBD Dauntless dive bombers from the carrier USS Saratoga. A bomb hit the aircraft deck portside above the No. 3 engine room and started a major fire. Seventy crewmen were killed. Emergency repairs were made at Rabaul, and Maya returned to Yokosuka at the end of 1943.

At Kure, Maya embarked two Aichi E13A1 "Jake" long-range scout planes, troops and materials. A monkey, donated to Maya by the Kure Zoo, was also embarked. During the voyage, the aircrew taught the monkey to smartly salute the senior officers, much to their annoyance.

From April–June 1944, Maya supported other units in the defense of the Philippines, culminating in the 19–20 June Battle of the Philippine Sea, in which she was damaged slightly by near-misses. On 20 June, Maya retired with the remnants of the fleet via Okinawa to Yokosuka, where the aircrew and their pet monkey disembarked.

On 22 October, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Maya was assigned to Cruiser Division 5 with sister ships Atago, Takao and Chōkai. On 23 October, Maya was part of the Battle of the Palawan Passage. At 05:33, Maya '​s sister-ships Atago and Takao were torpedoed by the submarine USS Darter. Atago sank in approximately 18 minutes. Twenty minutes later, submarine USS Dace fired six torpedoes at Maya, mistaking it for a Kongō-class battleship; Maya was struck by four torpedoes portside: one in the forward chain locker, another opposite No. 1 gun turret, a third in No. 7 boiler room and the last in the aft engine room. Powerful secondary explosions followed immediately, and by 06:00 Maya was dead in the water and listing heavily to port. She sank five minutes later, taking 336 officers and men to the bottom, including her captain (09°27′N 117°23′E / 9.450°N 117.383°E / 9.450; 117.383Coordinates: 09°27′N 117°23′E / 9.450°N 117.383°E / 9.450; 117.383).[1]

Akishimo rescued 769 men, and transferred them to the battleship Musashi, which was sunk the following day; 143 of Maya '​s crewmen were lost with Musashi. Thus, from the final crew of 1,105 crewmen, 479 were lost.



  • 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]


  1. ^ Hackett, Bob; Sander Kingsepp (2009). "HIJMS Maya: Tabular Record of Movement". Junyokan!. combinedfleet.com. Retrieved 2010-07-05.