Japanese cruiser Agano
Agano in October 1942, off Sasebo, Nagasaki
|Ordered:||1939 Fiscal Year|
|Builder:||Sasebo Naval Arsenal|
|Laid down:||18 June 1940|
|Launched:||22 October 1941|
|Commissioned:||31 October 1942|
|Struck:||31 March 1944|
|Fate:||sunk 15 February 1944 by USS Skate (SS-305) north of Truk
|Class and type:||Agano class cruiser|
|Displacement:||6,652 t (6,547 long tons) (standard); 7,590 t (7,470 long tons) (loaded)|
|Length:||162 m (531 ft)|
|Beam:||15.2 m (50 ft)|
|Draught:||5.6 m (18 ft)|
|Propulsion:||4 shaft Gihon geared turbines
6 Kampon boilers
|Speed:||35 knots (67 km/h)|
|Range:||6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h)|
|Armament:||6 × 152mm Type 41 guns (3×2)
4 × 8cm/60 Type 98 naval guns (2x2),
2 × triple Type 96 25mm AA guns,
2x twin 13mm machine guns
8 × 610 mm torpedo tubes (4x2)
48 naval mines
|Armor:||60 mm (belt)
20 mm (deck)
|Aircraft carried:||2 x floatplane|
|Aviation facilities:||1 aircraft catapult|
Agano (阿賀野?) was the lead ship of the Agano-class cruisers which served with the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during World War II. She was named after the Agano River in Fukushima and Niigata prefectures in Japan.
Agano was the first of the four vessels completed in the Agano-class of light cruisers, which were intended to replace increasingly obsolete light cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Funding was authorized in the 4th Naval Armaments Supplement Programme of 1939, although construction was delayed due to lack of capacity in Japanese shipyards. Like other vessels of her class, Agano was intended for use as the flagship of a destroyer flotilla.
Agano was armed with six 152 mm Type 41 guns in three gun turrets. Secondary armament included four 8cm/60 Type 98 naval guns designed specifically for the class, in two twin turrets amidships. Anti-aircraft weapons included two triple 25 mm AA guns in front of the bridge, and two twin 13 mm mounts near the mast. Agano also had two quadruple torpedo launchers for Type 93 torpedoes located below the flight deck, with eight reserve torpedoes. The torpedo tubes were mounted on the centerline, as was more common with destroyers, and had a rapid reload system with eight spare torpedoes. Being mounted on the centerline allowed the twin launchers to fire to either port or starboard, meaning that a full eight-torpedo broadside could be fired, whereas a ship with separate port and starboard launchers can only fire half of its torpedoes at a time. Two depth charge rails and 18 depth charges were also installed aft. Agano was also equipped with two Aichi E13A aircraft and had a flight deck with a 26-foot catapult.
The engines were a quadruple-shaft geared turbine arrangement with six boilers in five boiler rooms, developing 100,000 shp (75,000 kW) for a maximum speed of 35 knots (65 km/h).
Built at Sasebo Naval Arsenal, Agano was laid down on 18 June 1940, launched on 22 October 1941 and completed on October 31, 1942. On completion, she was assigned as flagship of Destroyer Squadron 10 of the IJN 3rd Fleet. On 16 December 1942, Agano began her first combat operation, joining the Jun'yō and other ships to escort troops to Wewak and Madang in New Guinea, and later patrolling in the Bismark Sea and covering landings of Japanese forces at Hollandia. Agano was next involved in the evacuation of Japanese troops from Guadalcanal, which was completed in February 1943, with about 12,000 Japanese soldiers evacuated.
In May 1943, Agano returned to Kure Naval District and was assigned to the powerful fleet intended to counterstrike against American forces which had landed on Attu Island in the Aleutians. However, by the time the force was assembled, the Americans had completed their capture of the island, and the strike was called off. In June 1943, Agano put in at Kure Naval Arsenal for refit, including the addition of air search radar Type 21 and an additional ten 25 mm Type 96 antiaircraft guns in two twin and two triple mounts, adding to the original two triple mounts for a total of sixteen guns.
Operations in the Solomons
After refitting and dry dock, Agano departed for Truk in the Caroline Islands with a large Japanese force. Despite numerous sightings by American submarines and an attack on the Zuihō, Agano made it safely to Truk where she began ferrying troops and supplies to Rabaul from July to October 1943.
Agano sortied with the fleet to attempt to intercept American raiding forces near Eniwetok in September 1943, but failed to make contact. Another attempt to intercept the Americans in October was a failure as well. However, on 2 November 1943, while part of the fleet supporting the defense of Rabaul, Agano participated in a major action (the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay) against American units in which the Sendai and Hatsukaze were both sunk. Three days later, back in port at Rabaul, Agano was barely missed by an American air strike launched by the USS Saratoga (CV-3) and USS Princeton (CVL-23), sustaining slight damage and with one crewman killed. The fleet put to sea to engage American forces but this was cancelled and the fleet returned to Rabaul by November 7, 1943.
In harbor at Rabaul on 11 November, a Mark 13 torpedo launched by a Grumman TBF Avenger aircraft hit Agano in the stern, bending one of her shafts and flooding four compartments. Rear Admiral Morikazu Osugi as also injured in the attack. The next day, Agano was taken under tow by its sister ship, Noshiro together with four destroyers, for repairs at Truk. However, a few hours after departure, the ships were sighted by the American submarine USS Scamp (SS-277), which launched four torpedoes. Agano was struck again in the stern, damaging a second screw shaft and severely buckling several plates. Later that day, the accompanying destroyers fought off an attack by USS Albacore (SS-218) using a four-hour long depth charge barrage. Agano finally reached Truk on 16 November.
After three months of emergency field repairs, from November 1943 until mid-February 1944, Agano was finally able to leave Truk, albeit on only two of her four screws. In the course of repairs, 19 of her bulkheads had to be removed. She departed Truk on 15 February 1944, escorted by the destroyer Oite and submarine hunter CH-28, for the Japanese home islands where she was to be properly repaired, but could make only 16 knots. On the afternoon of 16 February 170 nautical miles (310 km) north of Truk the three vessels were spotted by the American submarine USS Skate (SS-305), which launched four torpedoes. Two struck Agano on the starboard side, flooding boiler rooms 3 and 5, and setting the ship ablaze. She remained afloat until the early morning of 17 February, allowing Oite to rescue 523 survivors from her crew of 726 men. Agano sank at at 05:17 on 17 February. Agano was removed from the navy list on March 31, 1944.
However, as it attempted to return to Truk that afternoon, Oite was sunk by torpedoes launched TBF Avengers in the course of Operation Hailstone, and sank within minutes at the north entrance to the atoll, taking all but twenty of her own crew down with her. All of the Agano crewmembers originally rescued were lost.
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