Japanese cruiser Nisshin

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Japanese cruiser Nisshin.jpg
Nisshin in 1905
Career Naval Ensign of Japan.svg
Name: Nisshin
Ordered: 1903 Fiscal Year
Builder: Ansaldo Yards, Genoa, Italy
Launched: 9 February 1903
Commissioned: 7 January 1904
Struck: 1 April 1935
Fate: Scuttled, 1936
Later raised and expended as a target ship, sunk by Yamato on 18 January 1942
General characteristics
Type: Armored cruiser
Displacement: 7,698 long tons (7,822 t)
Length: 108.8 m (356 ft 11 in) w/l
111.73 m (366 ft 7 in) o/a
Beam: 18.9 m (62 ft 0 in)
Draught: 7.32 m (24 ft 0 in)
Propulsion: 2 shaft Reciprocating Vertical Triple Expansion (VTE) Engines
13,500 shp (10,100 kW)
Speed: 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km) at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h)
Complement: 600
Armament: • 4 × 20.3 cm/45 Type 41 naval gun guns
• 14 × QF 6 inch /40 naval guns
• 10 × QF 12 pounder 18 cwt naval guns
• 6 × QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss
• 2 × Maxim guns
• 4 × 457 mm (18.0 in) torpedo tubes
Armour: Belt: 70–150 mm (2.8–5.9 in)
Deck): 25–38 mm (0.98–1.50 in)
Barbette: 100–150 mm (3.9–5.9 in)
Casemate & Conning tower: 150 mm (5.9 in)

Nisshin (日進?), also transliterated as Nissin, was a Kasuga-class armored cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy designed and built by Ansaldo in Genoa Italy, where the type was known as the Giuseppe Garibaldi-class cruiser. Designed as a cross between a battleship and a cruiser, but with a very small displacement, it had the ability to stand in the line of battle and the speed to avoid action with battleships. Its armor belt was only 6 inches (150 mm) thick, but covered a far greater percentage of the hull than previous armored cruiser designs. The second ship of her class, Nisshin was sister ship to the Kasuga.


Nisshin was the last of the Giuseppe Garibaldi-class cruiser armored cruisers to be built. The first ship in the class had been completed in 1895 and the series had enjoyed considerable export success, and had evolved with improvements over the years based on operational experience.

Originally ordered by the Italian Navy as Roca in the spring of 1902, it was sold immediately after launch to the Argentine Navy, who renamed it the Mariano Moreno. However, the possibility of war between Argentina and Chile abated before the ship was completed, making it surplus.[1] The Italian government attempted to sell the ship to Russia, but in December 1903 rejected the Russian counter-offer. The Japanese government quickly stepped in and purchased it due to increasing tension with Russia.

The keel was laid in May 1902, and the vessel was launched on 9 February 1903. The ship was designated Nisshin on 7 January 1904.[1]


Nisshin had an overall length of 111.73 m (366 ft 7 in), and beam of 18.71 m (61 ft 5 in), with a nominal displacement of 7,698 long tons (7,822 t) and draught of 7.4 m (24 ft 3 in). The ship was armored with Italian-made Terni Steel, similar to Krupp armor in performance.

She was powered by two vertical triple expansion steam engines made by Ansaldo, with eight cylindrical boilers, driving two screws. This type of boiler was considered obsolete at the time, but was used to provide standardization with other ships in the Argentine Navy. The engine had a nominal output of 14,896 shp (11,108 kW), which yielded a theoretical speed of 20.15 kn (23.19 mph; 37.32 km/h)) (although for practical purposes, Nisshin could only make around 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)).

Her main armament consisted of four 20.3 cm/45 Type 41 naval guns, paired in gun turrets in the bow and stern. Secondary armament consisted of 14 QF 6 inch /40 naval guns and 10x QF 12 pounder 18 cwt naval gun and six QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss. She also had four 457-mm torpedo tubes.[1]

Service record[edit]

Still not fully completed in January 1904, Nisshin and Kasuga sailed, from Genoa to Japan under the command of British captains with combined British, Italian and Arab crews. Nisshin was commanded by Captain J.H. Lea and Kasuga was commanded by Captain H.H. Paynter,[2] both captains having their Royal Navy commissions temporarily withdrawn in order to avoid a diplomatic incident should the ships came into conflict with Russian forces. During the voyage, the Imperial Russian Navy shadowed the two vessels with the intention of sinking them as soon as the conflict started, however, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS King Alfred (1901) also shadowed the Japanese ships in the Indian Ocean once they had passed Port Said. On their arrival in Japan, the officers and men of both ships were welcomed as heroes in Japan, and their British captains had the honor of an interview with Emperor Meiji.

Russo-Japanese War[edit]

Nisshin and Kasuga reached Yokosuka Naval District on 16 February 1904 just as Japan opened up hostilities with its naval attack on Port Arthur, and work to obtain combat readiness status was accelerated. Both vessels were declared ready on 11 April 1904, and joined the IJN 1st Fleet under the overall command of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō. Immediately on arrival, on 13 April Nisshin participated in the action outside Port Arthur which led to the sinking of the Russian battleship Petropavlovsk and the death of Russian admiral Stepan Makarov. On 14 April, under the command of Vice Admiral Kataoka Shichirō, Nisshin took part in the shore bombardment of the town and land fortifications of Port Arthur using indirect fire over the intervening range of hills.

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the Imperial Japanese Navy had six modern battleships. This was slightly fewer than the number of Russian battleships in the Pacific. On 15 May 1904 in a major disaster for the Imperial Japanese Navy, two Japanese battleships were lost to Russian mines, and Kasuga accidentally rammed and sunk the cruiser Yoshino in a fog bank. With a third of Japan's battleships thus depleted, the unprecedented decision was taken to use Nisshin and Kasuga in the line of battle together with the remaining four first line battleships Mikasa, Asahi, Shikishima and Fuji during Battle of the Yellow Sea (10 August 1904).[3] Nisshin received significant damage, including 16 killed and 15 wounded, but stayed in the fight.

At the subsequent Battle of Tsushima on 26 May 1905, Nisshin, as flagship of Vice-Admiral Misu Sotarō (second in command after Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō), was 6th and last in the line of battle, following Kasuga. At 14:15, Nisshin opened fire on the Oslyabya, the lead ship in the second column of the Russian fleet at a range of 7,000 yards (6,400 m). At 14:40 Nisshin received her first hit as a Russian 12-inch (300 mm) shell cut the right 8-inch gun of her forward turret in half. Between 14:57 and 15:05, the Japanese fleet reversed course to block Russian northward movement, which put Nisshin as the first ship in the battle line. At 15:00, a Russian 12-inch (300 mm) shell punched through the armor belt of Nisshin one foot below the waterline and flooded a coal bunker. Another 12-inch (300 mm) shell hit the belt about three feet above the waterline but did not penetrate. At 15:06, the Russian cruiser Zhemchug charged the Japanese line for a torpedo attack but was driven off by fire from Nisshin, Kasuga and Iwate at 3,300 yards (3,000 m).

At 15:30, the Japanese line again reversed course, placing Nisshin at the rear again. Another 12-inch (300 mm) hit was made on Nisshin but without any significant damage. At 16:05, Nisshin was struck once more by a 9-inch (230 mm) hit on the forward turret sent shell splinters into the conning tower, wounding Admiral Misu. By 17:07, the Japanese line was firing into the light of the setting sun and the Russian line had better visibility. Nisshin was hit again at 17:20 by another 12-inch (300 mm) shell, which cut the left 8-inch gun of her aft turret in half. She was now down to half her main armament. As daylight was dying, Nisshin was hit yet again at 19:00 by a 12-inch (300 mm) shell with the left 8-inch gun of her forward turret being cut in half. She now just had a single 8-inch (200 mm) gun operable: the right gun of her aft turret. After nightfall, the action of the main Japanese line concluded. Nisshin had expended 181 8-inch (200 mm) shells during the battle. Her rate of expenditure obviously decreased significantly as she lost first one, then two and finally three of her four 8-inch (200 mm) guns.

While serving on Nisshin at the Battle of Tsushima, then Ensign Yamamoto Isoroku lost two fingers on his left hand.

Of the battle damage received by the Japanese, Nisshin received the second most hits after Mikasa. Mikasa received over 40 hits, of which ten were from 12-inch (300 mm) shells. Nisshin was hit 13 times, including six 12-inch (300 mm) and one 9-inch (230 mm) hits. Given the number of hits on Nisshin and the fact that she stayed in line throughout the battle, it can certainly be said that she had validated the hopes of the designer: a cruiser able to stand in the line of battle. The performance of the Japanese armored cruisers during the Battle of Tsushima and that of Nisshin in particular was such that it led to a burst of construction of armored cruisers in the world's navies and also directly led to the battlecruiser designs that were shortly to follow.

After the battle, Nisshin participated in the July–August 1905 invasion of Sakhalin.

World War I and subsequent history[edit]

From 1917, Nisshin participated in a limited extent in World War I. During the early part of the war, she participated in the unsuccessful search in the Pacific Ocean for the cruiser squadron of the Imperial German Navy, from a forward base in Truk in the Caroline Islands.

Later in the war, from 1917, she was assigned to the Mediterranean theater, where she led a group of eight Japanese destroyers based in Malta, in a mission to protect Allied shipping against German and Austrian submarine attacks, as part of Japan’s contribution to the Allied war effort under the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

On 1 September 1921, Nisshin was partially disarmed in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty and was reclassified as a Coastal Defense Vessel. She was used to transport Japanese soldiers and supplies to Siberia in 1922 as part of Japan's Siberian Intervention.

She was used from 1927 primarily as a training vessel for officer cadets at the Imperial Japanese Navy Academy and was based out of Yokosuka Naval District until decommissioned in April 1, 1935. Renamed Hai-Kan No.6, her hulk was sunk as a target ship during live fire exercises off of Kure in the Seto Inland Sea in 1936.

Nisshin was later raised, and towed as a target by the battleship Mutsu at the Kamegakubi Naval Proving Ground in the Seto Inland Sea, 15 miles (24 km) SW of Kure (34°05′N 132°53′E / 34.083°N 132.883°E / 34.083; 132.883) . There, on 18 January 1942, it was sunk again by the battleship Yamato with her new 18.1 inch guns.

The city of Nisshin in Aichi prefecture was named after the cruiser Nisshin in 1905.



  • Chesneau, Roger (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5. 
  • Evans, David C.; Peattie, Mark R. (1997). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941. Annapolis, MD: 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. 
  • Jane, Fred T. (1904). The Imperial Japanese Navy. Thacker, Spink & Co. 
  • Jentsura, Hansgeorg (1976). Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869-1945. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-893-X. 
  • Kofman,V.L. Armored Cruiser Type Garibaldi, Morskaya Kollektsia 3-1995
  • Roberts, John (ed). (1983). 'Warships of the world from 1860 to 1905 - Volume 2: United States, Japan and Russia. Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Koblenz. ISBN 3-7637-5403-2. 
  • Schencking, J. Charles (2005). Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4977-9. 
  • Warner, Dennis & Peggy (1974). The Tide at Sunrise; A History of the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905. Charterhouse. ISBN 0-7146-8234-9. 
  • Tōgō Shrine and Tōgō Association (東郷神社・東郷会), Togo Heihachiro in images, illustrated Meiji Navy (図説東郷平八郎、目で見る明治の海軍), (Japanese)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Chesneau, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905, p. 226.
  2. ^ "Hugh Haweis Paynter". Chris Newman. 
  3. ^ Warner, The Tide at Sunrise, p. 187.